Easy Does It

At Casa d'Angelo, the surprises come where you least expect them.

The zucchini flowers were filled with creamy cheese and shredded crab; they'd been sprinkled with semolina and fried golden, served with a little dish of yellow tomato marinara and a chopped Italian salad of radicchio and arugula. Despite the care taken with these delicate flowers (they barely last a day after being picked, and they're a pain to stuff), the flavors were bland and the flowers a little greasy. We liked the baby artichokes on their long stems better, tenderized with marinade and fragrant with herbs, the rich mouthfuls spiked with salty pink sheets of prosciutto.

We split an order of homemade cheese tortellini tossed in tomato cream sauce; the little ricotta-filled pillows looked like clouds drifting in a rose tangerine sunset, and they were so delicate that they hardly required chewing. It was a beautifully restrained plate of pasta.

A wood-roasted branzino, a European sea bass, still wearing its tail, needed nothing beyond light lemon butter sauce, a sprinkling of salty capers, and a few snips of parsley and fennel fronds. This fish was incomparable — flesh the color of new snow, a silky texture, the embodiment of luxury. I took most of it home and ate it cold the next day, and the taste hadn't deteriorated one iota. Our bone-in veal chop, cooked just pink in the center and cosseted in a carmelized layer of fat, was equally beautiful, set in a refined sauce infused with rosemary and made even more elegant with the warm perfumes of wild mushrooms, set against a multicolored pile of roasted eggplant, zucchini, and peppers.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Casa D'Angelo

1201 N. Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Fort Lauderdale

Casa D'Angelo

171 E. Palmetto Park Road
Boca Raton, FL 33432

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Boca Raton

Details

Casa d'Angelo, 1201 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; call 954-564-1234. And 171 E. Palmetto Park Rd., Boca Raton; call 561-338-1703. Open Sunday through Thursday 5:30 till 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday till 11 p.m.

These meats, vegetables, and pastas, so modest and graceful, are textbook Northern Italian cuisine. The ingredients speak for themselves; no fancy culinary trick is ever permitted to drown out the personal and individual voice of what comes from earth, sea, or pasture. Such simplicity can be deceptive — I ran across Elia's recipe somewhere for pasta al pomodoro e basilica (capellini with fresh tomato sauce and basil — it's $15 at the restaurant) and thought to myself, "Big deal! This is like the idiot's guide to dinner!" And truly, there's very little here, apart from the painstakingly stuffed zucchini flowers, that just about anybody couldn't manage at home given a little practice and the right tools.

We don't, of course, want to be at home, which is why we've come to Casa d'Angelo. But apart from gracious service and mostly excellent food, I found myself appreciating things here that I'd begun to take for granted. I'd thought Casa d' had no surprises for me, but the revelations came unbidden and unexpected. The precise flavor of an artichoke. The dewy, translucent hues of a perfect Mediterranean fillet. The open-air, medicinal pungency of summer rosemary.

How unlike these are from any other thing. And also how glorious.

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