The usual Las Olas crowds tend to be fickle in their choice of hot spots.
Somewhere in between all the back-and-forth Rocco's Tacos set up shop on the opposite end of the boulevard, holding in its grasp a steady and vibrant bar scene. Like the lone ranger on the eastern frontier, its kept the masses happy and drunk with its extensive tequila offerings, far away from the rest of the Las Olas eateries.
Now it has a new neighbor, one who might be able to reinvent that part of the street.
We took a peek at the Restaurant People's (the group responsible for YOLO, Tarpon Bend, and S3) newest concept Fork & Balls.
At 7 p.m. on a Thursday evening, the place was packed with the expected happy hour crowds. The bar was surrounded with a mix of young professionals dressed for a night out, twenty-somethings in shorts and t-shirts out for a drink, and middle aged business men and women donning suits and office apparel.
The bar offers a nice selection of wine-by-the-glass served on draft, Italian wines-by-the-bottle, craft beers, and specialty cocktails.
If you like gin, try the Furry Wall ($10), a combination of cucumber, mint, Averna Amaro, and Bombay Sapphire; it's a bold, but refreshing drink.
The menu is comprised of a selection of balls -- hey, Las Olas -- available in customizable or composed options.
Guests can chose from just balls ($8) with options ranging from classic beef or spicy pork to veggie and the special of the day. With three meatballs, focaccia, and choice of sauce (think traditional tomato, herb pesto, Parmesan cream), it's more of a snack than meal.
If you're looking for a DIY meal, the balls on top is a better option. For $13, it comes with three meatballs of your choice on top of either salad, daily veggie, garlic spinach, creamy polenta, or pasta.
Balls in between, which are offered in sliders or heros, are another heartier option.
While the customizable options are great for pickier eaters, the composed dishes are more interesting. The majority of the menu selections are based in Italian flavors, but it also features some interesting twists on meatballs and sides.
Brussels sprouts ($7), which seem to be on just about every menu for the past couple years, are different here. Flash-fried, they're served in a toasted garlic-tomato sauce with bacon and parmesan.
A B.L.T. has been reinvented, with a grilled romaine B.L.T. salad ($7); it features applewood-smoked bacon, grape tomatoes, blue cheese, and ranch dressing.
Meatball dishes are all over the place. The grandma's bowl ($14) is the most traditional, composed of F&B blend balls (veal and pork), spaghetti, tomato-eggplant sauce, and mozzarella. The Texan ($13) is the most eclectic; it's a combination of classic beef meatballs, slow-cooked chili, aged cheddar, and corn tortillas. On the lighter end is the Toscana ($14), a combination of F&B blend, rapini, butter beans, prosciutto, and pamesan in a light broth.
F&B sandwiches include diverse plays on the classic meatball sub. The B&E grinder ($11), mixes chicken balls, roasted mushrooms, parmesan cream, and pesto in between Italian or whole wheat bread. The Greek ($12) combines lamb balls, tomato, sweet onion, and tzatziki sauce in a pita. All sandwiches come with a side of arugula salad.
Vegetarians have plenty of options from which to chose. In addition to several veggie ball dishes, a wide selection of sides are offered, including braised green beans ($5), kale chips ($5), white beans and kale ($5), creamy polenta ($5), and a Greek-style farro tomato feta ($5).
The crowds might be going just for the sake of checking out the newest spot; however, with comfortable decor, good food (everything we tried was spot on), interesting cocktails, a laid-back vibe, and the Restaurant People's track record, we think this place is going to do well.
Fork & Balls is open for lunch and dinner, from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. It's located at 1301 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-771-2257, or visit facebook.com/forkandballs.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.