Louie Bossi's Ristorante, Bar & Pizzeria

Since it's July 2015 opening, the scene at Louie Bossi's Ristorante Bar and Pizzeria in Fort Lauderdale is fueled by intense energy. On any given evening, every inch of the main dining room is jammed like the Dolphin Expressway at rush hour. Except here, people seem perfectly agreeable with being elbow to elbow. From a large table of elderly patrons picking over a few pizza pies, to the couple at the 15-seat salumi bar sharing slabs of cured meat and a bottle of wine, and the rowdy group at the corner booth in back putting back cocktails and sharing a trilevel, tiered platter of appetizers, the commotion never seems to stop. Lisabet Summa, Big Time's director of culinary operations, and former Big City Tavern phenom chef Louie Bossi are the dynamic duo behind this custom-curated operation. Years in the making, the sprawling custom design complete with an outdoor garden that is more piazza than patio, allowing for quasi-alfresco dining beneath a retractable opaque glass roof, tables, and lounge-style seating propped atop a faux grass lawn. The hype, however, is over the food, a menu of biblical proportions, with everything from homemade pasta and wood-grilled, dry-aged steaks to Neopolitan-style pizza and house-cured meats. As a result, the flavors at Louie Bossi's can be so assertive, just one meatball, just one bite of pasta, or just one slice of pizza can be enough to experience every ingredient. That includes bowls of hand-shaped pasta, such as the hearty mafaldine, scallop-edged shoelace lengths as thick as octopus tentacles smothered in a tangy ragu sauce made with 'nduja, a spreadable spicy pork sausage. But it's the pizza — baked for 90 seconds in a 900-degree wood-burning oven — that takes center stage, a wet sourdough bakes up thin and chewy, blistered black in spots and delivering a strong smoky essence that can be overpowering or just right, depending on your taste.