Valentino Cucina Italiana chef-owner Giovanni Rocchio and his partner, Elke Quintana, have opened their long-awaited global tapas concept, One Door East.
The restaurant, located adjacent to Rocchio's Fort Lauderdale Italian eatery, opened officially Monday, August 8, after a brief soft opening. The former oil-changing station space has been completely renovated to offer a decidedly more casual atmosphere over upscale Valentino, with an industrial design and larger bar meant for socializing.
According to Rocchio, One Door East also presents the perfect opportunity to "expand his horizons" while allowing him to experiment with different cultures and cuisine. For those dining on a budget, the price point makes One Door East a more approachable place for a regular meal over Valentino, which Rocchio considers a "special occasion" establishment.
Rocchio — who travels extensively to garner inspiration for his menus — says the idea for One Door East came to him while he was traveling through Spain and Asia. As a result, many dishes are influenced by those cultures.
One Door East's opening menu offers guests the opportunity to choose from dozens of tapas-size plates, many of them cooked on a wood-fired grill. A long list of both hot and cold small plates are priced from $6 to $29 each, complemented by a concise selection of seven large plates priced $18 to $28. The chef recommends each patron sample several small plates (or one small plate and one large plate) in true tapas style.
The menu opens with cold tapas like the signature tuna tacos (pictured above), a fluke ceviche, white gazpacho, wood-grilled peaches, and lobster toast. Hot tapas selections range from octopus a la plancha and salt cod croquettes to oxtail and king trumpet gyoza or eggplant fries.
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Larger plates feature seafood like monkfish or swordfish, wood-grilled Peruvian chicken, and slow-roasted short rib. The most basic offering on the menu: a wood-grilled burger topped with a tomatillo jam, smoked pepper aioli, and queso fresco.
Unlike Valentino, with its heavy focus on old-world and Italian wines, the food at One Door East is instead washed down by a globally inspired cocktail menu with drinks built on flavors from around the world. Each taste trip touches on nuances from countries like China, Jamaica, France, Mexico, Thailand, and Scotland.
"I've been doing Italian since I was young," says Rocchio. "I'm excited to be offering something new and different."
One Door East. 620 S. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-368-6902; Facebook.