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FORT LAUDERDALE, THE VENICE OF AMERICAFlorida’s city of Fort Lauderdale has been termed as the “Venice of America” due to its intricate waterways. Tour these waterways and what you’ll encounter are many homes owned by the rich and famous. There are a few local cruise ships, the Water Taxi and a gondola ride.
An Italian flare would certainly ooze on a gondola if it weren’t for that there are no row boats allowed in these waters, thus it is powered by a motor. The gondola is quite old and enclosed, not like the ones that I have encountered in Long Beach California’s Naples Island. I didn’t find the gondolier to be very informative on his own unless I asked questions as some mood music was playing inside. If you don’t mind this, then you can pay the big bucks and even bring your own wine aboard.
I spent some time on the Water Taxi with a cost of $20 for the day, which will take you to 18 stops including the beach strip, some marinas, and locations around East Las Olas Blvd. the more “artsy” area. There is actually more than one stop along East Las Olas Blvd. To include the Science Center and IMAX, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, near the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District and the Museum of Art. It is the location of the Riverside Hotel that I found not only to be the best locale, but within a block of two fabulous Italian eateries.
Pan’e Dolci recently opened their second location for the utmost in gelato. I met owner Roberto Pacella as a batch of gelato was about to emit from the machine. I sampled the kiwi and tasted as if I was eating a fresh cold piece of fruit. It was a first for me on a Tirimasu gelato that actually tasted like the cake version.
Gelato isn’t the only offering as baked goods fill the showcases as well, which leads me to Roberto’s first location on East Oakland Park Blvd. near the beach strip. It isn’t unusual to find patrons talking in Italian, the area of Tuscany being displayed and current Italian music filling the air.
It was there that I sampled my two favorite pastries, sfogliatelle and cannoli. Most of the Italian pastry shops seem to do fine in the way of the sfogliatelle’s crispy shell. It’s the inside that makes a difference for me. The recipe calls for the use of ricotta cheese with the rest of the mixture up to the pastry chef. In this case and orange zest was used as was with the cannoli. I liked that. Imagine a chocolate cannoli with that orange zest.
Make sure to order a loaf of a fresh baked olive bread that filled with pitted olives. Have a sandwich or salad but by all means leave room for a showcase of pastries. Seating is available at this locale.
Gran Forno is located within steps of the Riverside Hotel. As with Pan’e Dolci, one place just isn’t enough. The bistro, called Pronto, has both tables on the outside and inside. I heard about the pizza being “real”. I watched as they prepared one. Thin dough with store made sauce and fresh mozzarella. Place it in the wood-fired oven for about two minutes and it’s perfect! You have that thin slightly crispy crust and the simple topping. That’s not to say that this is the only pizza topping.
If pizza isn’t your thing, there is always some Italian staple such as lasagna. Sandwiches are a biggy here due to having their main bakery about four blocks up on E. Las Olas. I didn’t compare the breads from Gran Forno and Pan’e Dolci but do remember that having tasted both, they were similar. Pronto doesn’t seem to push the fact that they make ice cream that’s excellent, even though it would not be construed as being gelato.
Not having made my way to the bakery, I did not sample the pastries to compare Gran Forno with Pan’e Dolci. I’ll leave that to you. I did have a cappuccino at Pronto and was served in a martini glass with a visible three layers.
Be sure to check out a store across the street that sells a sculpture of Michelangelo sculpting a statue of David.
March 10, 2011 - Giornale Italo Americano
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