Split Decision

Our meal at Limoncello ended in a draw

Thus, your dishes will likely be filling but uninspired. Caesar salad ($8.95) takes a grand old classic and offers the paint-by-numbers version: lettuce tossed in bottled caesar dressing with a lot of croutons and cheese. It's only when you recall the original tableside preparation made with raw egg, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, and the essence of garlic rubbed into a wooden bowl that you realize exactly how far this famous salad has devolved. An antipasto of prosciutto with mozzarella ($11) was edible — it's hard to screw up imported prosciutto. But the hunk of mozzarella that came with it was unappealingly bland and rubbery, and if you've gotten used to the taste of fresh mozz (since so many restaurants are making their own these days and so many gourmet grocers are selling it), your sensibility is going to re­bel. Burrata, this ain't. As for carpaccio di manzo ($12), our raw beef was soggy and listless, clearly too long frozen and sliced too thick (you should be able to read your watch through a proper carpaccio) and sprinkled with greasy shreds of inferior-quality Parmesan. But our young lovers cooed and ahh'd. "Why does anybody ever bother to cook beef at all?" they enthused. I know why. And so does the USDA.

There's plenty of bread. And garlicky olive oil to dip it in.

Limoncello serves a most generous portion of spaghetti carbonara. I haven't seen carbonara on any menu in ages — the ultimate comfort food, breakfast dressed for dinner. Limoncello's version cooks the spaghetti al dente, tossed in lots of delicious bacon fat and cooked egg with a generous grinding of black pepper and Parmesan. Doing this at home, I might top it with a soft-yolked fried egg (though any chef who tried this in a public restaurant would probably get arrested).

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Limoncello Trattoria

208 SW 2nd St.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Category: Restaurant >

Region: Fort Lauderdale

Details

Limoncello Trattoria, 208 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale. Open for lunch and dinner 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, till midnight Friday and Saturday. Call 954-525-7656.

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On the other hand, a dish of scaloppini Marsala ($19.95) employed a pinkish piece of cardboard-thin veal that might as well have been cut from a Kate Spade handbag for all the flavor it had. Extra-sweet Marsala sauce couldn't save it.

One of the boys and I nearly came to blows over the flounder with artichokes (a special, $24). He pronounced it de­lish; I thought it wretched. And there you have the limitations of culinary criticism, a profession in which few friendships long survive. For me, those canned marinated artichokes and capers in the "francese" (oh sauce beloved of wedding receptions and Rotary Club banquets!) were a blow I couldn't recover from. For him, they added just the right note of piquancy (er, tinny sourness) to the moist and flavorful (um, mushy and insipid) fish.

My friends had the wisdom to skip dessert: What could be sweeter than gazing into your beloved's limpid eyes? But I dragged ahead and ordered the only one available that evening — a tiramisu ($6.95) that tasted as if it too had been frozen too long, basically just a bowl of espresso-flavored cream. I won't be doing that again anytime soon.

So here's the question we're facing, friends. Are you young, hungry, brilliant, slim, philosophically inclined? The sort of person who knows that there are many questions the universe has yet to answer and that the tenderness of the veal scaloppini at a middling trattoria in Fort Lauderdale is certainly not one of the major ones? Or are you just the opposite: somebody whose dearest wish is to dine as far from a leaky air conditioning vent as possible? Assume your positions. You know where you stand.

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