It was with mild trepidation that my fiance and I ventured to Rice and Dough in downtown Fort Lauderdale for our first visit. Husband and wife team Amy and Goran Perovic opened the lunch and dinner spot this spring as part pizzeria/sandwich shop (dough) and part sushi bar (rice).
We wondered how successful the marriage of the two disparate -- and equally beguiling -- cuisines could be. Granted, it's not as if the restaurant is offering pies topped with volcano rolls, but these are two very different genres, with vastly different eating rituals and distinct aromas. How does one design a space that merges the two distinct dining experiences into one?
The Rice and Dough answer seems to be to play it cool, with a clean, minimalistic decor in the always-stylish combo of red, black, and white. That trio of colors lends the pizzeria vibe (like a checkered tablecloth, as my fiance mused), while the organic shapes of the white lamps hanging from the ceiling were reminiscent of a South Beach sushi bar.
It's an interesting dichotomy, this rice and dough relationship. Certainly not a carb-phobic's first choice, but the lunch menu does carry a few lighter options, like the Fort Lauderdale seaweed salad ($6.95) which I ordered -- somewhat unnecessarily -- incorrectly thinking that my Erica vegan roll ($6.95) wouldn't be enough to satiate my appetite. A few other salads dot the menu and the kitchen does offer daily specials for lunch, as our server -- who was nice and welcoming as could be, like everyone else in the restaurant -- explained.
My fiance (Adam), took the "go big or go home" stance and ordered a Margherita pie ($13.95) to himself. Our server's eyes widened slightly as his noted in lightly-accented English; "It's very big." Indeed, it was much too large for our two-top and so it sat somewhat awkwardly on a tray-stand in the narrow hallway where we were seated near the back of the space. While it didn't blow me away on a first bite at lunch (probably because I was in full-on rice mode) the pie tasted terrific later on that same night when taken straight from the fridge and eaten over the sink.
Someone of authority seemed to be within eye-sight of the dining room at all times and a polite woman, who we took to be the owner or manager, stopped by our table at least twice to see how we were doing and to give a friendly "hello." The location is a stone's throw from Las Olas and parking was surprisingly easy; we snagged a metered spot directly across from the restaurant as soon as we pulled up. We were low on change, but things moved quickly enough with service that we were out before the meter expired. Though our check ballooned to more than $40 with tax and tip, sticking to the sandwiches or sushi rolls would keep the lunch bill in the $10 mark.