Chef Marco Vico and his wife, Eclair, have owned and operated Cafe Vico in Fort Lauderdale since the mid-'90s. The successful 110-seat restaurant with a family feel keeps guests coming back for more.
New Times: Cafe Vico is an Italian restaurant with Tuscan influence. How did you settle on this cuisine?
Marco Vico: While
doing my apprenticeship in New Jersey, I developed a Northern Italian
cooking style, because this is what the family taught me. So I started
with that as a base, and then, when I became my own boss, I began
experimenting with new dishes and adding some new flavors to the items
to make them my own.
What do you think has been one of the key
reasons you and your wife continue to see success at Cafe Vico even
after all these years?
I always remind myself and the staff
that when people come in through our doors, they are coming in for a
special experience. It is our responsibility to preserve this unique
moment. It is also very important to stay current with what is going on
in the industry, be innovative and open to change. The trend now is on
small plates or "tapas," so we are offering a small Italian sampling. Five dishes paired with five wines. This way, people can try a lot of
things without having to order to huge portions of each.
What role do you think social media makes in the success of a restaurant?
These days, everyone is online, and with Facebook and Twitter, we easily connect with guests and share our special events like movie nights, wine pairings, and specials.
Tell us a little bit more about the movie nights.
Well, people love going to the movies and often have dinner before or after the show. So we decided to combine the two. We take one of our private dining rooms and put up a big screen. Everyone sits around a large table, like a big Italian family dinner setting, and enjoys a menu inspired by the movie. For example, when we showed Woman on Top with Penelope Cruz, the food had a Brazilian infusion to reflect the main character's heritage.
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Can we expect to see any new menu items this fall?
We make all our pasta and bread in-house, and I work with the pasta maker to come up with flavors and textures that are uniquely ours. I am working on a few new dishes, but we will keep our popular items like the lasagna bolognese.
What will you be featuring at the Pairings event?
I think we will do a simple penne vodka. It's a flavor people know, and our recipe has gotten great reviews.
Tomorrow, we'll share Chef Vico's famous lasagne bolognese recipe. If you come to tonight's Pairings event, you can meet him and many other talented chefs.