The new SoLita Las Olas sure looks South Beach chic. It's as much a bar as a restaurant, with two lounge areas and a living-room-style hangout with couches and love seats smack in the middle. There are tables for dinner too, but it's clear by the trip-hop bass thumping in the background that SoLita is going for style.
That's also evident from the slightly melancholy slogan on its website: "The perfect place to socialize or be romantic in an ambience reminiscent of more glamorous times."
There's no mention of food in that slogan, but at least according to a first taste of a few dishes recently, the menu is far from overlooked.
SoLita, an acronym for South of Little Italy, was opened by Steven Dapuzzo, a former Taverna Eros consultant, and Alan Myers, who spent ten years at Café
Martorano. Like Café Martorano, food is unquestionably home-style
Italian, with generous plates of pasta and an emphasis on things like
meatballs and ricotta. Not what you'd expect to find at a South
Oddly, however, that mix seems to have
worked. On a recent Tuesday night, every seat was taken, and
Drakkar-wearing patrons were lined up at the hostess stand wondering
when a table would open up.
those guys in three-buttons-opened shirts ended up with a table, they'd
find a menu dominated by simple Italian classics, like cheese and
spinach ravioli and linguine with clams. We started with one of the
more unusual-sounding items, the "Italian poppers" ($8.50), small,
grilled peppers stuffed with fresh ricotta, herbs, and lemon. They were
nicely simple, but a bit hard to eat with the cheese spurting out from
the fat end.
The rigatoni was great, but it doesn't look much like South Beach. Instead, it's a great representation of that simple Sunday-dinner-style plate. It came with
two meatballs, a chunk of slow-braised pork, and a heap of nicely
seasoned ricotta. It was clear the place hasn't adopted South Beach
prices, though, considering that massive meal rang in at just $22.
impressive, however, was the "classic parmigiana style" chicken with
fresh mozzarella. The chicken was pounded so thin that it's no surprise
it got a bit overcooked, and the breading lacked the crispy edges of
"classic" chicken Parmesan. Just the same, the red gravy, which also
appeared on the rigatoni, did impart the $20 dish with the flavors of a
well-seasoned sauce. Just get those edges crispy.
month-old place, SoLita had a good command of service. A mistake on the
appetizer, for instance, was corrected not only by removing it from the
bill but also by the manager's comping our table a round of drinks.
a good thing to get drinks comped at SoLita too, because that's the
only part of the menu that's South Beach-like, with glasses of wine
hovering around $13.
But judging from the turnout, patrons
aren't so worried about the drink prices. They're eating huge plates of
pasta and, apparently, reminiscing about "more glamorous times."
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is located at 1032 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. It opens at 5
p.m. and closes "when the party's over." Call 954-357-2616, or visit