On the Waterfront

At Serafina, every night is a "fine night."

And that's why our risotto was so baffling. The menu had made a point to say the rice was imported Vialone Nano, an ideal grain for risotti because it's superabsorbent, soaking up twice its own weight in liquid, but still our risotto "tutto mare" ($24) with clams, shrimp, and squid, was bland and dry instead of rich and creamy. It had no flavor from either shellfish broth or seasoning. I wondered if the risotto had been partially cooked earlier, or if the lineup of three or four risottos were just differently costumed versions of the same dish — a bit of seafood added here or mushrooms or cheeses there — instead of individually prepared to highlight their unique personalities. That risotto left us all wishing we'd ordered a plate of rigatoni all'Ametriciana or capellini fra diavolo instead.

Our risotto, it turned out, was the only disappointment of the night, because the desserts that followed were spectacular. I love a good ricotta cheesecake, and the slightly savory version made at Serafina ($7) from the chef's grandmother's recipe was just the thing: not too sweet, gently fragrant with lemon zest, of a beautiful, almost foamy consistency that our waiter explained was tricky to achieve, requiring a tortuous cooling process. The cake almost never came out exactly the same way, he said. But the one we were eating that night was perfect. And so was a layered chocolate and cream mousse ($7), dark semi-sweet against airy white clouds. We couldn't stop eating it.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Serafina Waterfront Trattoria

926 NE 20th Ave.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Fort Lauderdale

Details

Serafina Trattoria Italiana, 926 NE 20th Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Lunch Monday through Friday 11 a.m. till 3 p.m., dinner Sunday through Thursday 5 till 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday till 11 p.m. Call 954-463-2566.

I've had Italian meals in Fort Lauderdale that were more finessed or creative but none that put together a total evening as comfortable, romantic, and memorable as Serafina. That package explains why Palm Beach millionaires pull up in yachts for lunch, sending the staff scurrying to feed crew and passengers on Italian sausage, poached pears, and salmon roulade; it explains why you need to make a reservation for dinner and why you may have to wait a few minutes once you show up while some earlier diners linger for every pleasurable second over dessert and coffee. Nobody, once they settle in, is in any big hurry to leave this place.

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