Good thing there are more and more options coming online every day. So many, in fact, we've compiled a short list of a few recent additions to the South Florida food scene to help you answer that very question. From an Italian restaurant offering homemade tortellini to a Mexican-Japanese eatery that serves some super funky fusion, each features a unique approach to some of our favorite fare.
Here are five new restaurants that recently opened in Broward County:
Il Faro Pizzeria and Restaurant
Go for: homemade Northern Italian dishes like handmade tortellini.
760 Riverside Drive, Coral Springs; 954-796-0405; facebook.com.
Il Faro, Italian for "the lighthouse," is certainly a beacon of light inside the somewhat desolate shopping plaza off Riverside Drive near the Coral Square Stadium 8 movie theater. The Italian restaurant opened in August, the first U.S. establishment from chef-owner Marco Baruffaldi, author of popular Italian memoir Confession of a Chef: Secrets, Bad Luck, and Chef’s Anecdotes. The Italian native said he wanted to offer South Florida a place to experience the traditional regional dishes of his hometown in Modena. Reclaimed wood accents, white-washed furniture, and artful wine cork décor give the place a shabby-chic flair. The food coming out of Baruffaldi's kitchen is anything but simple. The menu is a nod to the chef's hometown just outside Bologna, the birthplace of tortellini, so it only makes sense to order the homemade ones here. Stuffed with prosciutto, seasoned with nutmeg, and topped with a Parmigiana cream sauce, they're made — as many of the dishes here are — with imported Italian ingredients the chef sources directly from his birthplace. You might want to start your trip to Italy with the Gran Tagliere, a selection of imported cheeses like Parmigiana Reggiano and charcuterie such as prosciutto and mortadella Baruffaldi serves alongside fresh-baked bread, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh Roma tomatoes. Sicilian arancini — an appetizer stuffed with a Bolognese sauce, peas, and cheese — has earned the dish the nickname "the bomb" by the staff. In the future, expect to find cooking classes led by Baruffaldi himself, where you can learn to create some of his grandmother's favorite recipes in your own kitchen.
Go for: a one-stop shop for noodle soups like ramen and pho.
706 S. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954 618-7005; wokftl.com.
The tiny space once occupied by New River Pizza is now home to Wok, a new restaurant by the same owners. (The original pizza and late-night takeout eatery moved to a larger storefront directly across the street four years ago.) Today, the old locale offers a drastically different approach with new Pan-Asian fusion. Eat in or take out, it's up to you. The menu offers all the usual suspects you'd expect to find at your typical Chinese, Thai, Korean, or Japanese restaurant, from small-plate starters like egg rolls, sweet and sour chicken, and dumplings to Korean-style chicken wings, coconut curry shrimp, and a banh mi sandwich. Soft, airy Bao Steamed Buns take up a section on the menu, available with a choice of hoisin pork belly, smoked brisket, honey chicken, or crispy tofu. The two most popular Asian noodle soups are offered here, as well: four varieties of both ramen and pho. Try the 24-hour slow-roasted beef (pictured here) prepared with a red miso and beef stock-based broth with scallion, bok choy, cilantro, and lime.
Our Passion at the Trio
Go for: creative New American fare.
2881 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-990-6143; ourpassionatthetrio.com.
Our Passion at the Trio opened in July, a quaint eatery offering executive chef Paul Lobeck's take on eclectic, modern American fare. It joins the Pinnacle Lounge and the Trio Bistro in Fort Lauderdale. Lobeck says his love for the kitchen was passed down at an early age from his maternal grandfather, developing into a career that spans 20 years in cooking and food-service management at South Florida establishments like Blondies Diner in Tequesta and Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita in Miami. Through his varied experience, the chef has put together a number of eclectic dishes that range from sweet corn fritters and bruschetta to shrimp risotto and roasted rosemary chicken. Signature dishes include the El Chichon (pictured here), named after a volcano in Mexico, and its towering pile of yellow rice, slow-cooked shredded pork, sauteed peppers and onions, fresh pico de gallo, and cilantro avocado cream served on a fried tortilla. You can also find another favorite available year-round, the bleu-cheese-stuffed pork chop, a massive bone-in cut topped with sautéed apple compote and served on a bed of roasted garlic and white cheddar mashed potatoes. The restaurant also recently launched a weekend-long brunch in November, served from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday with bottomless mimosas and sangrias for $15 per person (or by the glass for $5). Dishes include fried chicken and waffles, smoked bacon quesadillas topped with a fried egg, or the Spanish-inspired chorizo and gravy with biscuits.
Viva Tokyo Mexican and Japanese
Go for: fusion dishes like sushi burritos and tacos.
1538 E. Commercial Blvd., Oakland Park; 954-908-5588; vivatokyorestaurant.com.
Mexico and Japan — two very different countries with two very different cuisines. At Viva Tokyo in Oakland Park Florida, they're serving both under one roof. Here, tempura and tacos coexist in peaceful harmony. The menu is expansive, one side devoted to Mexican eats like tacos and burritos, the other offering sushi and ramen. The fusion comes into focus with a few off-menu specials, often available daily, including the spicy tuna sushi burrito (pictured here) with field greens, cilantro, cucumber, carrots, avocado, kimchi, and spicy mayo; tempura shrimp tacos topped with red cabbage, wasabi guacamole, and spicy mayo on corn tortillas; and ceviche tostadas, shrimp and mahi marinated in fresh lime juice with julienned red onions, cilantro, chopped tomatoes, and serrano peppers.
Bento Asian Kitchen + Sushi
Go for: fast-casual Asian eats and build-your-own noodle bowls.
2260 S. University Dr., Davie; 754-200-8375; bentocafesushi.com.
Szechuan beef. Bubble tea. Poke bowls. Bento sushi boxes. Pretty much anything Asian you can list off, Bento Cafe offers on its menu. The fast-casual sushi spot opened its first location in the summer of 2002 a few blocks west of the University of Florida. Today, there are over nine locations across Orlando, Gainesville, Jacksonville, and Tallahassee. Recently, a Davie location marked the restaurant's expansion into South Florida. Here, they think inside the box — literally — serving dishes in plastic bento boxes. You can also create your own rice and noodle bowls that can be filled with dozens of stir-fried, grilled, or deep-fried entrees or sushi rolls. The Bento "Envy Roll" is one of the most popular and combines salmon, tuna, krab delite, avocado, kiwi, and masago with a sweet chili sauce. End it all with a boba tea, available in a rainbow of flavors and add-ins like boba tapioca pearls.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.