What Would Bruno Eat?

Austria sits down with Italy at Josef's.

An autumnal entrée of rare, roasted loin of venison ($35) had been seasoned and seared; the medallions were paired with a tart baked pear topped with gorgonzola and a bright ruby-red sauce of pomegranates. This dish was full of sharp flavors, its colors and textures as varied as a northern fall landscape. The sweet-sour flavor of pomegranate held its own against the rich, head-clearing cheese; the assertive, salty venison played off the mound of buttery whipped potatoes. Luscious. A pounded and butterflied veal chop ($36), prepared Milanese style with a coating of egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan, and herbs, came topped with the simplest accompaniment: a flawless green salad tossed in olive oil and vinegar, and a half-lemon to squeeze over it. This may have been the most beautiful veal chop I've ever been served in a restaurant — a creamy-pale interior of delicately seasoned meat under a perfect home-style Milanese crust. A side dish, served family style, of snappy French beans, roasted potatoes, and lightly charred red peppers was impeccably presented, each vegetable basking in its own unique flavor. Tables around us were tucking into chicken baked in a clay terrine, plates of pan-fried wiener schnitzel, crisp halves of honey-roasted duck with pine nuts, and herb-roasted rack of lamb.

Desserts change seasonally too — a berry tart, a flourless chocolate cake, a scoop of homemade basil-mint gelato. We went with the classic, a charming twist on the apple strudel ($8.50). Layers of baked apple come balanced between the thinnest, flakiest sheets of brittle pastry I've ever seen, dusted with granulated sugar, vanilla sauce pooling in its crevices and hollows. And after we'd polished that off, one final touch — a little plate of two complimentary chocolate-dipped strawberries arrived.

This month, Josef's has opened for lunch on Thursdays and Fridays only — an experiment Beth says they'll continue if they get enough traffic. Some of the dinner items appear at lunch: veal Milanese, the homemade fiocchi, along with new offerings like an apple and fresh mozzarella tart, and a lump crabmeat cake. Prices are in the $10-$15 range.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Josef's

9763 W. Broward Blvd.
Plantation, FL 33324

Category: Restaurant > Austrian

Region: Davie/West Hollywood

Details

Lunch Thursday and Friday only, 11:30 a.m. till 2:30 p.m.; Dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. Call 954-473-0000.
Josef's 9763 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation.

This is deceptively simple food, put together with utmost care. The personality and freshness of home-cooking are paired with the sure hand of an accomplished chef. Twenty years ago driving through Austria, we stopped, late, at a remote inn where the host and hostess roused themselves to serve us dinner in an empty, darkened dining room. We got the feeling we were their only guests for the night, but the supper they brought us tasted clean and clear, like the Austrian alpine air outside their open windows, and they welcomed us in spite of the late hour. It made America seem very far away, a lifetime away, a cluttered, noisy, restless country that I suddenly had no wish to ever get back to. We sat in that shadowed dining room for a long time while our hosts cheerfully poured us glass after glass of reisling, as if they had nothing better to do and their warm beds weren't waiting. We left Austria the next morning. Sitting over a long meal at Josef's reminded me of what I'd left that day. And it gave me something to be glad I'd come home for.

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