Food for Thought: Cafe Vico

Food for Thought: Cafe Vico

Café Vico has what you need to fulfill that Italian craving

My friend Tonio and I were craving Italian food—real, authentic Italian goodness. We knew where we had to go: Café Vico, a Fort Lauderdale mainstay that has been pleasing locals with their homemade pasta and traditional dishes for more than 15 years.

Upon entering we were greeted enthusiastically by owner Marco Vico. In 1997, he opened Café Vico with just 20 seats. The well-known establishment has expanded three times now, due to its popularity.

Tonio and I admired the beautiful surroundings—the ceiling is painted like a sky and the waitstaff is easy on the eyes—and started off our evening like everyone should: with cocktails. I ordered a grape martini and Tonio tried the zesty Brazilian favorite, the caipirinha.

We sipped our drinks and crunched on fabulous complimentary bruschetta while we perused the menu. Since we were here on business (this article), we requested sampler plates so that we could tell you about all kinds of delicious treats.

Sampler First, we started with a sampler plate of their homemade stuffed pasta. This included their chicken ravioli ($25.95 a dish), which was stuffed with chicken and ricotta and served with black cherries and red wine sauce; seafood ravioli ($25.95 a dish), which is stuffed with crabmeat and ricotta and served with lobster cream sauce; pumpkin ravioli; and also gorgonzola-stuffed pasta.

The homemade pasta and various fillings were all so flavorful and unique it was hard to pick a favorite, but of course we did. Tonio, who thought he wouldn’t like pumpkin ravioli, loved the plump dumplings in brown butter sauce. I knew I would go crazy for the seafood ravioli, so I was not surprised, but I was certainly pleased. I ate mine and stole the rest of Tonio’s as well. The chicken ravioli was indeed unique; the fantastic chicken and ricotta-filled dumplings were topped with juicy black cherries and red wine sauce.

Next we had a sample plate of some of their other popular items: meatballs (which can be added to any dish for $5.95 or can be ordered as an appetizer with fontina cheese for $10.95), lasagna bolognese ($22.95 per dish), and risotto with beef and truffle ($35.95).  We knew we had to try the meatballs because they are a very important part of eating Italian. The verdict? They were large and juicy and perfectly seasoned. The sauce that covered it was so good you’d want to drink it (we held back though). I’ve never had risotto with beef and truffles and it was a heavenly, earthy dish.

LasagnaThe biggest standout was the lasagna bolognese.  Let me start by saying this isn’t your grandma’s meat lasagna. This was the lightest, fluffiest lasagna you will ever have. The homemade noodles were covered with a wonderful meat sauce, and instead of ricotta, there was a lovely béchamel sauce finishing the dish. I could eat this forever. I found out later that this was not a unique opinion—the lasagna bolognese at Café Vico has been voted the best in Broward County. It is a must-try!

After our sampling, we each had an entrée—I had a special of the night: Chilean sea bass piccata served with veggies and a side of pasta marinara, and Tonio had the lamb, which was fall-off-the-bone tender, with a side of noodles in an Alfredo sauce.

Tonio ordered a wine blend of Malbec and Pinot Noir to drink with his entrée, which I had to try. The two types of wine were perfect together and made me wonder why I’d never ordered a blend before.

TiramisuFor dessert, we split a generous piece of tiramisu and a dish of crème brûlée with fresh blueberries. The coffee flavor in the tiramisu wasn’t overwhelming; it was just right. The crème brûlée was smooth underneath the crunchy top coating of sugar. Nothing is more satisfying than cracking through the top of a crème brulee with a spoon to get to the super-creamy center. The fresh blueberries brightened the flavors perfectly.

 

I want to mention to my friends with food allergies that Café Vico offers the option of gluten-free penne and spaghetti, so you are covered.

Café Vico is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for dinner seven days a week—Sunday to Thursday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 11 p.m. Live music is offered every evening by their piano bar and half-priced specials at happy hour are offered.

Café Vico

1125 N. Federal Highway

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

(954) 565-9681

cafevicorestaurant.com