Restaurant Reviews

Dine by Your Sign

Having a hard time deciding where to dine? Not sure what you want to eat tonight? Try turning to your astrological sign. It gives dining under the stars a whole new meaning. Astrologer and columnist Sydney Omarr, along with the late chef Mike Roy, put together a cookbook of culinary constellations, Cooking With Astrology. Using Omarr's tips on food to fit the heavens as a starting point, here's a horoscope for your next meal.

Aquarius (January 20-February 18): Those born under this air sign make light meals out of salads, enjoy cold foods like yogurt, and get kicks out of packaged convenience foods eaten on the run. Ruled by Uranus, Aquarians are frequently perceived as eccentric and avant-garde and have a fondness for anything made with lemons, oranges, tomatoes, or avocados. They snack frequently, on cheese in particular. Quality Quirk: The Water Bearer? Nonsense. The favorite Aquarian drink is champagne. Fatal Flaw: These highly verbal folks may be more interested in dinner conversation than dinner. Ultimate Eatery: The menu at Black Orchid Cafe (2985 N.Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-561-9398) is as eccentric as an Aquarian, with items like grilled ostrich, loin of Canadian elk, and wild African game pheasant. This elegant place will never bore the Water Bearer.

Pisces (February 19-March 20): Pisces are born under Neptune, what Omarr labels "the planet of illusion." Sensitive, perceptive, and dreamy, Pisceans appreciate fare that has been veiled when cooked -- fish steamed in parchment paper, for example. The subtle flavors of shellfish are irresistible to the average Pisces, as are delicate broths, stocks, and dishes that focus on one ingredient. Quality Quirk: They put their emotions into every meal; watching a pleased Pisces is as satisfying as reading a good book. Fatal Flaw: The Piscean longing for simplicity can come across as picky. Ultimate Eatery: A Pisces dish doesn't have to be cooked -- just fresh. Which they are at Tokyo Delite (61 S.Federal Hwy., Deerfield Beach, 954-571-7181). Order the Love Boat -- a combo of sushi, sashimi, and rolls -- for the Pisces you adore.

Aries (March 21-April 19): Aries is associated with Mars, the planet that represents action, leadership, aggression -- and the color red. Fire-sign eaters enjoy blood-hued food, including tomatoes, beets, and red wine. The Aries diner likes to choose the restaurant and order for the table. Quality Quirk: Good decision-making skills. Give Aries the menu and the check. Fatal Flaw: Becomes impatient and has difficulty tolerating incompetence, from a wait staff or a dining companion. Ultimate Eatery: Say it with me: "Steak house, steak house, steak house." New York Prime (2350 NW Executive Center Dr., Boca Raton, 561-998-3881) fits the (rather pricey) bill to a T bone, with service that includes plenty of satisfying pandering and beef that muscles out the competition.

Taurus (April 20-May 20): Taurus is associated with the planet Venus. Born under an earth sign, Taureans are direct, practical, and blunt. They appreciate beauty as long as it serves its purpose. The basic bull considers eating a necessary business and likes to get his money's worth. Generous Taureans are also "substance abusers" -- skimpy portions piss them off. Quality Quirk: More versatile than you might think. Fatal Flaw: Insatiable appetite. Ultimate Eatery: At Sally O'Brien's (BeachPlace, 17 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-522-4641) Taureans will delight in the huge bowl of creamy potato soup garnished with cheddar cheese and bacon, the lamb stew rife with chunks of lean meat and potatoes, and the shepherd's pie, seasoned beef topped with -- what else? -- mashed potatoes.

Gemini (May 21-June 20): Talkative and energetic, Gemini-born diners have a good sense of humor and a healthy dose of curiosity. They don't enjoy eating repetitively; Gemini customers make poor "regulars." Something of a nosher, the peckish Gemini is sustained by variety and small portions and is sporadic in tastes and unpredictable in appetite. Omarr notes that Geminis have "an affinity with buttermilk… [and] coleslaw is a specific Gemini dish." Quality Quirk: Knowledgeable about food and drink without being pretentious. Fatal Flaw: The aftereffects of consuming a lot of buttermilk and coleslaw aren't always appetizing. Ultimate Eatery: España Tapas (Royal Palm Plaza, 309 Via de Palmas, Boca Raton, 561-361-7576) allows Geminis to sample away. Cold tapas include goat cheese rolled in pecans or octopus marinated with peppers and sherry. Hot tapas include dates wrapped in bacon with red-pepper sauce or grilled oysters rolled in freshly cracked pepper.

Cancer (June 21-July 22): Cancer is the gourmet's sign. Those fortunate enough to be born under this sign savor the crab that symbolizes it, as well as just about any other foodstuff cultivated by man. Cancers live to eat and entertain; they are nurturers, the Jewish mothers and Cuban grandmothers of gourmets everywhere. Quality Quirk: Generosity of spirit translates into "eat, bubbelah, eat." Fatal Flaw: Cancer is also the gourmand's sign; some crabs use food as consolation, and many have weight problems. Ultimate Eatery: Konakai (2640 N.University Dr., Sunrise, 954-746-9793) is a Peruvian-Chinese joint that offers pork lo mein alongside papas àla huancaina, boiled potatoes smothered in cheese sauce -- a bicultural experience no grandmother could ever forget.

Leo (July 23-August 22): The showman of the zodiac, Leo takes creativity to new levels. Extravagant and exuberant, the lion shines brightly and may be demanding, requiring foods served at temperatures as hot as the sun the sign represents. Leos love herbs and spices (particularly dill), flambéed dishes, and grilled fish and meats. Quality Quirk: Food is passion. Fatal Flaw: Leos can be so sensually sated by a good meal that a lusty after-dinner romp is a nonstarter. Ultimate Eatery: Angelo Elia, chef-proprietor of Casa D'Angelo (1201 N.Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, 954-564-1234) offers first-rate Tuscan fare that includes oven-roasted, free-range chicken with broccoli rabe and oak-grilled jumbo prawns with arugula and tomatoes.

Virgo (August 23-September 22): Practical, intelligent, and health-conscious, the Virgo diner can be, well, virtuous when it comes to restaurants. They follow rules and appreciate patterns; table settings must be in order. They observe proprieties as well as niceties, which can render them exquisitely polite or boringly predictable. For all their perfectionism, they're versatile and adore foreign flavors. Quality Quirk: Displaying an in-depth understanding of nutrition, cooking, and health, Virgos are the most successful at maintaining diets. Fatal Flaw: They can be pedantic and didactic. Ultimate Eatery: Gibby's (2900 NE 12th Terr., Fort Lauderdale, 954-565-2929) never fails to fill its dining room, and the reasons are obvious: twin Maine lobsters, prime rib, rack of lamb. And if Virgos can hold themselves back from ordering the house-baked strawberry shortcake, they might actually meet their stringent health requirements at the same time.

Libra (September 23-October 22): To many, Libras -- symbolized by the scales of justice -- are born contradictions. They appreciate subtlety (delicate sauces, thinly sliced meats, artistically arranged portions) but detest pretense. While French fare may suit them just fine, fussy nouvelle cuisine may seem unduly pseudo-sophisticated. The well-balanced Libra prefers the classic dishes of haute cuisine. Quality Quirk: Libras are often wine connoisseurs, but they despise excess. Fatal Flaw: Vegetables must show their true colors to these justice-seekers -- green for asparagus, yellow for corn -- which can lead to plain and undercooked veggies. Ultimate Eatery: The French brasserie Gigi's (Mizner Park, 346 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, 561-368-4488) offers the ideal Libra menu: updated but not too elaborate and interesting any way you look at it. Onion soup, for instance, is served with a sense of humor, along with scissors to cut that pesky Gruyère.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21): Let's be blunt: Food is sex and vice versa. Passionate, intense, and fascinated with fare that induces desire, this water sign can be obsessed with oysters, Tuaca (an Italian liqueur said to be an aphrodisiac), and the like. Scorpios are what many folks interested in the occult call "old souls"; they appreciate aged beef and cheeses, dark bread, red wine, and 20-year-old Scotch. They are mysterious and secretive and like their food to be complexly flavored. Quality Quirk: Scorpios prize authenticity and usually know the best places for regional/ethnic specialties. Fatal Flaw: Scorpio has a black-and-white mind and will never return to a restaurant -- or a dining companion -- he or she considers inferior in any way. Ultimate Eatery: The Scorpio's search for a fabulous Indian restaurant is now over, thanks to Dawat to India (6320 W.Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise, 954-742-7558), where the samosas are sumptuous, the curries sublime, and the blend of spices impossible to figure out.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21): Sagittarians are insatiably curious when it comes to food. Often experimenting with strange and wonderful ingredients, they work precisely with them before presenting them to others, which is almost always done in the manner of teaching a lesson. With fun-loving Jupiter as mentor, the Sagittarian also takes great delight in hosting parties, mixing drinks, and eating rich, cream-filled desserts. Quality Quirk: The exotic has appeal; Sagittarians are the first to swallow goldfish, crunch down on grasshoppers, or tackle raw meat. They make excellent taste-testers for cautious royalty. Fatal Flaw: They can't help but endlessly explain dishes and pontificate on food history. Ultimate Eatery: Storks don't deliver just babies, they deliver fabulous sweets via Stork's Cafe (2505 NE 15th St., Wilton Manors, 954-567-3220). For dessert beyond compare, Sagittarians need to order the Storkberry pie, which contains blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19): Earthy and basic, Capricorns prefer fare that comes from the ground (mushrooms, root vegetables). They're also big fans of texture and enjoy foods that need to be worked on, like nuts and crunchy vegetables. Capricorn diners are disciplined, even restrictive, and want items served on time and at their proper temperatures. Quality Quirk: Capricorns appreciate meals that make memories and are frequently inspired to celebrate special occasions with fine fare. Fatal Flaw: Ruled by the planet Saturn, Capricorns are frequently dry and thirsty, which can make them irritable. Ultimate Eatery: Capricorns may shy away from Hot Chocolates (3101 N.Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, 954-564-5552), which is both restaurant and nightclub. But items like the ragout of escargots and confit of duck baked with wild mushrooms and tomatoes should bring any Capricorn out of his or her shell.

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Jen Karetnick is an award-winning dining critic, food-travel writer, and author of the books Ice Cube Tray Recipes, Mango, and The 500 Hidden Secrets of Miami.
Contact: Jen Karetnick