Steve Martorano Wants More Great Italian-American Places | Clean Plate Charlie | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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Steve Martorano Wants More Great Italian-American Places

A little over 20 years ago, Steve Martorano -- number seven on our Tastemaker countdown -- was on his way back up north. His dreams of opening a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale didn't work out and the cook (he doesn't like the word chef) was at the airport, waiting for a flight to Philadelphia. Then, as if in the movies, a call to a friend turned his fate around.

A small storefront in a shopping center in a slightly-seedy section of the beach was for sale. "I drove my car, I got out, I looked in the window. This is for me. If I didn't make that call, my entire life would be different," Martorano told Clean Plate Charlie.

From that point on, things started looking up for the muscular restaurateur with a positive attitude toward life and an old-school way of cooking. On a Saturday night, expect to wait hours for a table at his flagship, Cafe Martorano. His other restaurants, at the Seminole Hard Rock and the Rio in Las Vegas, are equally busy. What's the secret? People flock as much to meet Martorano as to dine on his famous meatballs. And he doesn't disappoint -- stepping away from the burners to schmooze or to spin tunes (he acts as his own DJ when the mood strikes).

With all that, Martorano still finds time to volunteer with endangered youth and has a jewelry line with proceeds donated to charity. And to think that Fort Lauderdale would have missed out on all this if Martorano boarded a plane. Philly's loss is our gain, cuz!

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss

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