Food News

Two Ugly Sisters Laugh & Lunch at 11th Street Annex

It's almost the stuff of fairytales. Hidden away between Andrews Avenue and Davie Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale, lies a lttle house and garden. In that house, Two Ugly Sisters (which, by the way, is the legal name of their company) serve lunch to a loyal following, filling the house with laughter and good food. This is not a fairytale, however. TheTwo Ugly Sisters are real life sisters Jonny Altobell and Penny Sanfilippo, both graduates of Johnson and Wales University. We had a talk (and some laughs) with Ugly Sister, Penny Sanfilippo.

Clean Plate Charlie: O.K. First of all you have to explain why you named your company "Two Ugly Sisters". Do you have some weird body issues?

Penny Sanfilippo: We're really sisters and before coffee we're known to be ugly. Seriously, a good friend had these nicknames for us - he called us "Slug" and "Ugh". When we went to incorporate our catering company, we found someone was already using the name we were going to register it under, so we had to figure out a name on the spot. "Two Ugly Sisters" was available so we're The Two Ugly Sisters. We do have fun with the name and there are days when it's more true than others.

Your restaurant, 11th Street Annex, doesn't have a set menu. Your menu changes daily. Who thought of doing that?

The real honest to God truth is that when we opened the restaurant by the third day, I said if I have to make the same food every day, I don't want to do this anymore.  Most of our customers really do enjoy us. They enjoy the food. The "get" us. Sometimes they don't even know what they had after they've already eaten it. 

How long have you had 11th Street Annex?

We've been there between nine and ten years. The bulding is owned by Trinity Lutheran Church and it was used as housing for one of the pastors. We were doing the school lunches for the church in exchange for using their kitchen for our catering business. Jonny and I always wanted to have a little restaurant and we asked the church if we could use this house when it became vacant. Sometimes doors open for you because all of a sudden this building was available and the church agreed that we could use it.

You have a rather ecentric menu and ecentric hours, too.

11th Street Annex is open for lunch only Monday-Friday 11:30am-2:00pm and the first Saturday of the month from 11:30am-3:00pm or until we kick the last person out.  My husband is a horticulturist so he does a plant talk on the Saturday we're open at 10am, we open at 11:30am and people can sit outside with their dogs and make the day of it. People bring wine and we have a lot of fun! And we rarely close exactly at 3 because customers are just hanging out, enjoying the day.

So do you wing the entire menu daily or do you have some sort of a plan?

We have a few different entrees each day and every entree is $9. Every day we have a different soup, which is homemade, including the stocks. The only thing we buy is bread from a bakery. If people have food issues (no gluten, no soy) we can tell them exactly what's in our food. We always have one vegetarian entree and most Wednesdays we'll do a vegan entree. But really, the menu depends on what were interested in for that day.

What's on today's menu? 

We've got a turkey ruben, mac & cheese with brie and shrimp (which is probably a Cardiologist's nightmare), chicken confit with chicken legs and cauliflower salad, meatloaf "sammich", quesidilla with feta cheese and kalamata olices topped with greek salad. For dessert we've got a  carambola and apple pie. What's on the menu tomorrow?  We never know what kind of weird thing will pop into our heads. It's mainly because we drink.

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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