Big Cheese

Say what you will about Café Martorano. It's all ours.

Orecchiette with white and red beans, escarole, and sweet and hot sausage ($28) tastes creamy and rich. The beans sort of melt into a lovely, starchy sauce, the escarole wilts into that, the little balls of sausage pop with flavor, and you end up with a dish that's as textured as a relief map of the Italian alps. Because you'll never finish a second course after the huge appetizers, you'll find it reheats excellently the next day. So does a fat, meaty shank of osso buco ($44), at 18 ounces, something like four full servings of protein and a couple of veg, what with the fresh peas, sliced carrots, and onions in its superreduced bath of red gravy. There's lobster Française, veal chops, 12 ounces of Kobe beef cooked either with hot fried peppers or Sinatra-style with Marsala, chicken parmigiana, and pork chops with cherry peppers. And though Martorano has repeatedly promised, "You won't see salmon on my menu. Everything I like is what I do" — there it is, at $38, looking like Queen Sonja wrapped in a kimono and parachuted into the middle of a big fat Italian wedding. The description promises: "Norwegian salmon with shiitake mushroom reduction." Say, whaaaa?

The desserts, like those cannolis ($12), taste like they came from the corner deli, but who has room for dessert anyway? At Martorano's, you can't get hard liquor, although an Italy-focused wine list offers affordable Gavis and Chiantis all the way up to a magnum of Opus One. You can't get a glass of tap water to save your life (H20, at seven bucks a bottle, pairs much better with spaghetti, the waiter explains). There's no regular coffee. The place is noisy. Don't even bother to ask for substitutions. They do not take reservations. In short, Martorano's is a total pain in the ass.

Don't bust balls, his menu screams. You don't like it, go someplace else — you'll only make the wait in line that much shorter when the rest of us show up in haute party mode, with our baubles and minidresses, screaming with laughter and jonesing for a plate of carbonara, ready to dance all night with Babyface, Luda­cris, and the entire cast of The Sopranos.

Joe Rocco

Location Info


Cafe Martorano

3343 E. Oakland Park Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Beaches


Café Martorano, 3343 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Open daily 5 p.m. till 2 a.m. Call 954-561-2554.

You don't love Steve Martorano? There's plenty who do. And those who do are a hell of a lot more fun anyway.

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