Italian Food, Unchained

The owner of Pranzo hasn't let his chain-restaurant success spoil his excellent Italian eatery

Cappellini with jumbo lump crab was similarly flavor-challenged, though for a much better reason. Fresh Maryland crab is a wonderful thing, and any chef with his Italian sensibilities screwed on straight would sooner spread molten mozzarella over scampi alla griglia than obscure its delicate, candy-of-the-sea flavor. So chopped tomatoes, pancetta, olives, and peas were added in judicious amounts, but the seafood broth they swam in was too bland a backdrop to bring the various tastes into focus.

The kitchen nailed it on the next try, though. Fillets of yellowtail snapper, to my mind the best-eating fish in the country, were expertly sautéed and crowned with a simple but sublime relish of lemon, capers, and -- miracle of miracles! -- fresh tomatoes that actually tasted like the real thing, ripened on the vine. I don't know where Pizzo gets these babies, but I want a case delivered to my door before noon tomorrow.

Don't despair, carnivores: For you, there's the 14-ounce veal porterhouse, a thick slab of meat grilled to rosy perfection and succulent right down to your toenails, goosed with a very Frenchy morel sauce and truffle-infused mashed potatoes.

Maine lobster and jumbo shrimp fra diavolo, 
just one of Pranzo's winning entrées
Colby Katz
Maine lobster and jumbo shrimp fra diavolo, just one of Pranzo's winning entrées

Location Info

Map

Pranzo

402 Plaza Real
Boca Raton, FL 33432

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Boca Raton

Details

Open 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 5 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Sunday. Call 561-750-7442.
402 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton

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Frenchy is also a good way to describe Pranzo's take on the classic Italian zabaglione, especially since it's called by its Gallic moniker of sabayon. Typically a fiercely beaten mélange of liqueur, egg yolks, and sugar, here the liqueur is Grand Marnier, and the texture is French creamy rather than Italian frothy. Who cares? It's great stuff, poured over mixed berries as fantastically ripe as those tomatoes.

Of course, no meal would be complete without chocolate, and if Pranzo's heroically portioned, breathtakingly intense chocolate-espresso torte doesn't lift the chocolate jones off your back, see your physician. Or your pastry chef.

The best part of all this is now that James Cosentino has found happiness and truly Italian cuisine in a giant shopping mall in Boca Raton, you can too. In fact, after eating here, you might just leave saying, "Thank God it's Pranzo."

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