Paul Castronovo, a noted South Florida radio personality ("The Paul and Young Ron Morning Show") and partner in the Italian winery Castronovo Vineyards, is a self-described food and wine guy who's had the opportunity to eat at a number of South Florida's top restaurants.
After a recent talk with Castronovo about the growth of his wine label (the brand will expand this year with sales in all Florida Publix stores and an addition of a white wine to the label) Clean Plate Charlie asked the oenophile via email about some of his favorite places to eat and drink in South Florida. We were particularly interested in hearing about where he likes to head during the spring and summer months, and some of his favorite wines to sip when the temperatures start to rise. His answers, after the jump.
Clean Plate Charlie: What are your favorite restaurants in South Florida? Particularly in the spring/as summer approaches?
Paul Castronovo: I think what chef Chris Miracolo is doing at Max's Harvest in Delray Beach is great. Using sustainable seafood caught right here, hormone- and steroid-free meats and vegetables grown in farms from Delray and the Palm Beaches. He's a rock star in the kitchen and I may drive up right now for the deviled eggs.
While I'm in Delray, I have to tell you about D'Angelo's Trattoria, the newest effort from chef Angelo Elia of Casa D'Angelo fame. He, along with his protege, chef Rickie Piper -- who grew up in Rome -- created a great new menu with rustic Tuscan and Roman fare. For instance, braised oxtail, wood-oven roasted milk-fed piglet, and a ton of great pasta dishes, like buccatini de cecco with wild boar ragu. You just don't see that stuff on menus over here, but in Italy, mom makes it!
Here's a tip: Summer at Anthony's Runway 84. Once the tourists and New Yorkers go home, South Florida's classic Italian restaurant is wide open, buddy! Have a martini at the bar, relax and have fun with the greatest wait staff and crew in the business. Same goes for Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant. Chef Andre (Bienvenu) has a summer menu, featuring all sorts of wonderful seafood delights -- just not stone crabs -- and guess what, the line isn't too long!
Cafe Maxx consistently (has) some of the finest food anywhere. Chef Oliver Saucy is my "go to" guy when I need a great meal. They do a two-for-one wine deal every summer, and I'll tell you, that's hard to beat.
What are your favorite specific dishes from restaurants in Broward and Palm Beach counties?
The tuna sashimi pizza at Cafe Maxx is something I order every time I go. Lately, I've gotten hooked on his lemon pepper grilled Bell & Evans chicken. Healthy and I have no idea how he gets it so moist. There is a cult following for this chicken.
Casa d'Angelo Boca, the pear raviolini, if it's on the menu that night, may be the greatest pasta dish ever created.
Anthony's Runway 84, I could live off their antipasto alone. Anthony does this special green pepper stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese and other stuff that at gunpoint, he wouldn't tell me - so amazing. For dinner, I have to have the beef bracciola. Then I have a grappa and call it a night.
Favorite wine for spring/summer drinking?
I tend to go a bit lighter in the summer and end up going more towards white wines, and lighter dinner fare. The Honig Reserve sauvignon blanc is a killer; Whispering Angel Rose, if you can find it is a great starter. Then, I move to the pinot noirs and I particularly like what they are producing in Oregon right now. Ultimately though, I usually end up drinking Italian reds and if they don't carry Castronovo, I look for the best Super Tuscan I can find at a good price, and that isn't always easy.
Best healthy eating habit you've picked up in recent years?
Life is too short to eat bad food, but what I have learned is to eat lots of smaller meals, every three hours or so, and only eat bad once or twice on the weekends. I've also curtailed booze to Fridays and Saturday nights. Ah, the perils of growing older!
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What would you love to see more of in South Florida in terms of the dining or drinking scene?
Less chain restaurants. I know they are everywhere, and there are some good ones. I'd just like to see people support interesting local places with great menus and local fare. Try Assaggio del Forno in Boca - small plates, from all the different regions in Italy. You will eat plenty, try lots of different things and not walk away too stuffed - unless you want to.