Dinner at Bash Wine Cafe & Catering in Sunrise

I really enjoyed my grilled, bone-in pork chop basted in Coca-Cola sauce and apple chutney at Bash Wine Cafe in Sunrise. The chop could've been a touch less done, but the Cola sauce was wonderfully balanced -- not overly sweet like I'd expected -- and the chutney was soft and tangy. As I savored a bite, I glanced up at the flat-screen TV above Bash's lacquered bar and watched as Saints cornerback Tracy "I'm Not Joey" Porter intercepted Chad Henne and streamed into the end zone for the score that proved to be the backbreaker against the Miami Dolphins. Below the television was an autographed picture of Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, just one of the many Dolphins Bash's chef and co-owner Nikki Pettineo has catered for. Though the Dolphins ended up losing to the Saints, Pettineo's pork chop was a clear winner that day.

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Pettineo and co-owner Veronica Lopez run Bash, a tiny cafe and wine bar nestled into the white-washed plaza that faces Oakland Park Boulevard and University Drive in Sunrise. The restaurant is barely as big as an average living room and is about as visually impressive (note to self: Black vinyl tablecloths make a restaurant look like a funeral parlor). But the staff is friendly and enthusiastic, and Pettineo's cooking is passionate. And the prices are recession-proof.

The pork chop I had came with sauteed spinach (Bash's vegetable of the day) and a wedge of potatoes au gratin that looked like a starchy version of lasagna, all for only $15. The al dente potatoes were layered with a not-too-thick cream sauce and gobs of melty cheddar and jack cheeses. I ended up taking half of the meaty, thick pork chop to go. It felt like the kind of food my mother would cook when I was growing up, only Pettineo's recipes are way more refined than Betty Crocker's.

Our table also sampled a plate of pumpkin ravioli -- Bash features a unique ravioli special as well as one seafood special every day. I enjoyed the silky pasta (I wonder if Pettineo uses wonton wrappers to make her square ravioli) and the dense, pumpkin filling; I only wish the brown butter sauce and accompanying spices had been better spread out around the plate instead of congregating largely on one or two raviolis. Still, for $12, it was a great meal.

I'll definitely be going back to Bash to check out more of Pettineo's home-spun cooking: I've yet to try the apricot chipotle chicken topped with goat cheese or the short ribs braised in Mr. Pibb (the chef must be a huge fan of soda). With nothing over $20 on the menu, I could afford to go for every Dolphins game this year. Hopefully they win one next time.

Bash Wine Cafe and Catering
8067 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise

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