Bravo Ristorante in Fort Lauderdale: Impressively Formal Yet Surprisingly Comfortable Italian Restaurant

This Italian eatery is the kind of place you'd be equally comfortable taking your visiting East Coast grandparents or a romantic interest with whom you're trying to "seal the deal." It maintains the perfect balance between modest and upscale, being both impressively formal (waiters in black, menu in Italian, a substantial wine list) yet surprisingly comfortable (big squishy booths, high ceilings, and warm lighting from strings of naked light bulbs). An outdoor seating area, with its bubbling fountain and cleverly placed greenery and flowering plants that create a "living wall," does a rather convincing job of masking the otherwise-blah plaza setting. Fare tends toward heavy-sounding meat and pasta dishes in the $15-to-$25 range (lasagna carnevale, totellini alfredo, veal saltimboca), but there are also tempting choices that are lighter on the wallet and the waistline (thin-crust pizza, a bright arugula salad). The service stands out — waiters are confident and solicitous without being condescending or fussy. This Fort Lauderdale dining veteran clearly has made it a priority to employ true professionals in the front of the house. Tricia Woolfenden
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Tricia Woolfenden