How did I not know that Gran Forno had a second location on Las Olas? I did not. I'd been going to the bakery the past four months I've lived here, unaware of Gran Forno Pronto table service down the street.
Why should it matter? Because the menu, the setting, and the price point hit a sweet spot for lunch. I had one of the most lovely outdoor midday meals yet in Lauderdale, aside from the guy who screeched his Porsche into the parking space out front. He and his statuesque lady friend urgently needed espresso.
In the meantime, I decided among an array of pizzas, crostini, and sandwiches, which would not be compelling unless you've feasted on Gran Forno bread.
Among the visuals inside: one beautiful crusty loaf that's several feet
long, stacked with Italian meats, provolone, and arugula. A very busy, graceful pizzaiolo. Old-school wainscoting and black-and-white-tile floors. Cakes posed on old-fashioned dishes aligning the counter.
Since I'm making the rounds tasting restaurants' 'balls, I opted for the
veal: three doused with red sauce and a healthy heap of Parmesan. Veal
is a more-coveted meat than beef or pork, obviously, so an entire
meatball of it is quite decadent. Milk and bread crumbs from the area's
most heavenly bakery mean they're light and almost pillowy, melded with
savory veal and spiked with acid from San Marzano sauce. Despite some
char from the wood-fired oven on the bottom, they're the best I've had
here yet. Total damage for a Moretti, focaccia, and meatballs was $23.
Gran Forno Pronto, 704 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-533-6276. Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.