The Angel Has Landed

Serafina ups the ante in Victoria Park

3. Well-taken-care-of: Oops! Shari and server Nicole ran themselves ragged trying to juggle a dozen-plus tables one night we were there, and the customers kept coming... and leaving. One guy and his date flounced out in a royal rage because they'd waited so long for their entrées. Serafina needs more help; a food runner or table busser would have calmed things considerably. Except for forgetting to bring our basket of foccacia with olive tapenade (and we really wanted it!), our waitress was unfailingly polite and exacting, and, somehow, always on top of things -- relighting our spent candle, ferrying carafes of wine. But watching her hustle -- mouth set in a thin, desperate line -- wasn't exactly conducive to relaxed dining. Let's face it: People get infantile over their food, and a long wait when you're hungry can reduce even the bravest of us to tears. When I asked about this, Woods said that she's frantic to hire another waitron and some kitchen aid but that summer help shortages have stumped her. Any readers out there need a cool job?

4. Boats and stars. Check! What a gorgeous place this is -- in a subtle, homey, European mode. Woods and her boyfriend, Jayson Burke, spent more than a year, lots of elbow grease, and several hundred trips to the Home Depot to turn what she describes as a "filthy pit" (formerly La Tavernetta, through several changes of owners) into a warm and personable space. The building is long and thin, with a fantastic fore and aft. The front is an unexpected twist on the idea of an "open kitchen": a glass storefront visible from the sidewalk, in front of which you can stand and gape at Hagan and his assistant as they plate up those stick-to-your-ribs ribs. Then down the narrow walkway you go, past a trickling fountain and pots of fresh flowers and garden herbs, through the glass doors, into a cozy room of six or seven tables arranged beneath scenic color photos. Starched linens, heavy wooden chairs, "pressed tin" ceiling panels, bas relief sculptures. Through another set of doors and you're on a wooden deck at the edge of a small harbor on the Middle River, where yachts and sailboats have dropped anchor an arm's length away. Candlelight, umbrellas, and, even in mid-August, a whiff of breeze. It's just beautiful.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Serafina Waterfront Trattoria

926 NE 20th Ave.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Fort Lauderdale

Details

Dinner 5:30 till 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, till 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Brunch Sunday 10:30 a.m. till 2:30 p.m. Call 954-463-2566.
926 NE 20th Ave., Fort Lauderdale

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This is great neighborhood dining if I've ever seen it, and it makes me wish I lived within walking distance. That Serafina has alighted in Victoria Park, where there are already so many dandy restaurants, seems brutally unfair to those of us who live elsewhere -- how'd this little triangle of turf turn out to be so blessed? Depending on your whim these days, you can go around the culinary world in three or four-odd blocks. The neighborhood is getting to be like a trip to Epcot without the long lines and the squalling infants. No, scratch that. It's getting to be like a city, a real city -- dense, patched together over time, filling up with diverse restaurants and the interesting people who run them. The Victoria Parkers have been touched by an angel. Envy them. Then get in your car and make the drive.

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