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SoLita Las Olas: SoBe Meets Home-Style Italian

Solita's chicken parm: great red sauce but soggy breading.
Solita's chicken parm: great red sauce but soggy breading.
Photos by Eric Barton

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

Beach-style venue.

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.

Italian poppers: nice and simple, just don't try to fork and knife them.
Italian poppers: nice and simple, just don't try to fork and knife them.

If

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.

SoLita Las Olas: SoBe Meets Home-Style Italian

Less

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.

For a

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.

It's

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."

SoLita

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

solitalasolas.com.


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