Broward County is known for many things: beautiful beaches, spring break, giant yachts, the largest per-capita gay community in the country, an inability to vote properly, the most hated woman on the internet in Taylor Chapman (well, a couple of months ago, at least), the nice Prancercise lady, ass-kicking (and not in a good way) bouncers on the beach — the list goes on and on.
What you may have noticed is that a world-renowned culinary scene is not on the register.
Personally, we just think the rest of the world doesn't know what it's missing; we may have no recent James Beard nominees, but we have plenty of all-star and celebrity chefs. We think these talented men and women deserve some credit.
From spots on Hell's Kitchen, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Martha Stewart Living Radio to cooking in Michelin-rated spots to just blowing our minds with amazing food, we have some damned good talent in these parts — if you're not taking advantage, you need to get the heck out of the house and check these people out.
In honor of Broward County's kitchen greats, we bring to you the Ten Best Chefs in Broward County.
10. Steve Martorano
Martorano's Italian-American Kitchen, 5751 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Call 954-585-4450. Cafe Martorano, 3343 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-561-2554. Visit cafemartorano.com.
Cook, DJ, celebrity, author, New Times Tastemaker, and just overall restaurant personality Steve Martorano is one of Broward's most highly recognized chefs. You don't get that level of praise or recognition by being average. Twenty years ago, the cook — he hates the term "chef" — set up shop in a rundown strip mall not far from Fort Lauderdale beach, and he's been blowing us away ever since with his old-school Italian food. Martorano has expanded over the years, adding locations in the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood and in Vegas; however, he hasn't lost that classic Italian-American touch. From his awesome eggplant stack to his classic lasagna, this is Italian food like your Nonna used to make but better — sorry, G-ma.
9. Mike Hampton and Christy Samoy
Hot & Soul, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 754-206-2155, or visit hotandsoul.com.
They say, "Two heads are better than one." In the case of this mom-and-pop couple, we completely agree with whoever "they" are. Separately, each one can cook up a storm; however, we're glad these two found each other, in more ways than one. Together the pair creates fully homemade international fare with soul. From Italian "Gnaughty Gnocchi" with oxtail, San Marzano tomatoes, basil, and pecorino to Pilipino Chicken Adobo with soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns, and jasmine rice to Cajun "Gumbo Yumbo," a combination of ham hock, andouille sausage, and chicken gumbo served with scallion rice, you can feel the love. Isn't that all you need?
8. Fulvio Sardelli
Sardelli Italian Steakhouse, 331 Van Buren St., Hollywood. Call 954-921-8331. The Tipsy Boar, 1906 Harrison St., Hollywood. Call 954-920-2627. Visit sardellis.com.
A staple on the local restaurant scene since he was just a kid — his family had owned restaurants in Davie and Hollywood since the mid-1980s — Fulvio Sardelli Jr. has brought innovative high-end Italian and porkcentric gastropub fare to Hollywood. From Barolo-braised short ribs in a $1.6 million four-story Mediterranean-style villa right near the beach to pork-belly sliders and beer-can chicken and a Cigar City brew on Harrison Street downtown, Sardelli has a knack for staying on trend and doing it well. That's what being a restaurant "lifer" is all about.
7. Tony Sindaco
Sea, 235 E. Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Call 954-533-2580.
Set in a nondescript strip mall less than a mile from the beach, Sindaco's restaurant pumps out seafood like you wouldn't believe; unless, of course, you've tried it out for yourself or have seen his résumé. He's held positions at world-class spots, such as the commis de cuisine at Michelin 5-Star Palace Hotel in Gstaad, Switzerland, and chef poissoniere at the Five Diamond Helmsley Palace in New York City under Andre Rene. From tuna Bolognese to braised black grouper with an ever-changing selection of accessories, Sindaco's skill is evident in every last bite of his cuisine.
6. Angelo Elia
Casa D'Angelo Ristorante, 1201 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-564-1234, or visit casa-d-angelo.com.
The patriarch of fine dining in Fort Lauderdale, executive chef/owner Angelo Elia is known for elevating the food scene in this city — and probably all of Broward and Palm Beach counties. Over the years, he's racked up a number of accolades, ranging from Zagat's America's Top Restaurants; Wine Spectator's Best of Award of Excellence on numerous occasions, including 100 Best Wine Restaurants in 2012; and, most important, a number of New Times awards, including Best Place to Close the Deal in 2009. When he's not cooking a dinner for the fine folks at the James Beard Foundation or some other elite culinary event, he's at one of his many local spots watching over simple Tuscan fare like bistecca alla fiorentina (dry-aged New York strip steak marinated in olive oil, rosemary, and garlic) or one of the many daily specials. He's good like that.
5. Lauren DeShields
Market 17, 1850 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-835-5507, or visit market17.net.
One of the leading ladies of the Fort Lauderdale culinary scene, this Florida native churns out an always-changing menu full of as many local products as she can get her hands on. From grilled locally caught grouper with crispy mofongo cakes, farm zucchini, sautéed kale, pickled pearl onions, and chimichurri sauce to pan-roasted pork tenderloin with brown-butter corn bread, mustard greens, broccolini, rutabaga, rainbow carrots, and mustard demi and everything in between, DeShields focuses on sourcing the highest-quality ingredients possible and treating them with the utmost respect. It's treatment like that that earned her a spot on our Tastemakers list — it's no wonder she's one of the best.
4. Chris Miracolo
S3, 505 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-523-7873, or visit s3restaurant.com.
Recently back in Fort Lauderdale after a long stint opening Max's Harvest in Delray Beach, Miracolo has been a staple on the South Florida scene since he opened Himmarshee Bar & Grill as a sous chef back in 1997 — after moving around in different positions, he took over the restaurant in 2009. While we've had a strong appreciation for his work all along, it was his tenure at Harvest that put him on the map, earning him New Times' award for Best Palm Beach County Chef in 2012 — up against the heavyweights of "the island" 's world-renowned all-stars. Now he's manning the helm of Fort Lauderdale Beach's new and shiny S3, where he's bringing his global eclectic style — and infamous pork belly — to the tourist-laden strip. And locals are finally making their way to the coast.
3. Steven Zobel
d.b.a./cafe, 2364 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-565-3392, or visit dba2z.com.
Like half the population of South Florida, Zobel is a born-and-bred New Yorker with cooking skills that show off time well spent in one of the leading culinary centers of the world. After more than two decades running kitchens in the Big Apple, he packed up the fam and moved to South Florida in 2011. Since then, he's made a name for himself locally with his classic technique and wide scope of flavor profiles — ranging from apricot-glazed duck confit with acorn squash crepe and Brussels sprouts to grilled Florida grouper with lemon, soy, and scallions — and his was New Times' pick for Best New Restaurant Broward County in 2013. He's one expat we're ecstatic to find in our midst.
2. Giovanni Rocchio
Valentino Cucina Italiana, 620 S. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-523-5767, or visit valentinoscucinaitaliana.com.
Born into an Italian restaurant family, Rocchio developed a passion for food at the ripe old age of 7 while working in the kitchen with his father, Tony, at the original Valentino in Plantation. After taking off to learn techniques and skills at high-end Italian spots in New York and the motherland itself, he came back to South Florida to open his own Valentino in Fort Lauderdale back in 2006 and has been wowing us ever since. After another move a few blocks north and across the street, Rocchio now serves homemade and innovative new Italian fare, ranging from homemade pastas to venison with butternut squash, braised red cabbage, and blueberry to monkfish accompanied by sunchoke, black trumpet mushroom, and crispy shallots. His fare is Italian like you've never had.
1. Paula DaSilva
3030 Ocean, 3030 Holiday Drive, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-4000, or visit 3030ocean.com.
After racking up the awards and accolades as executive chef of 1500 Degrees at the Eden Roc, including Esquire's Best New Restaurants in America in 2011, New Times Broward-Palm Beach's Best Celebrity Chef in 2009, Miami New Times' Tastemakers, and Miami New Times' Best Steak House 2011, DaSilva is back at her old alma mater, and we're all the better for it. She's currently in the process of revamping 3030 into more of a casual, small-plates eatery. It may have hurt when she walked away, but we're just glad to finally get her back to ourselves.