It is not often that we stroll into restaurants these days where the customers aren’t screaming at one another in an effort to be heard over the din of background music and bad acoustics. Yet, last week, we dropped into EAT Wilton Manors on the Drive, and discovered an oasis of relative quiet, with just enough excitement to suggest that the former home of Scarfone’s Coal Fired Pizza is finding its own regular fan base.
To be sure, the place has its share of noise from the open kitchen and R&B music. But the customers were too busy just smacking their lips at platters piled high with Italian specialties to spend much time gabbing.
We started our meal with some Pan Seared Ali Tuna ($12.95), seasoned to perfection and cooked medium rare. Topped with sesame seeds and sliced ginger, the taste was delectable while the fish was tender to a fault. This appetizer is on the list of specials, but is routinely available.
Another dish that frequents the specials menu is Dijon Chicken Breast ($18.95). It features three (yes, three) flattened and breaded chicken breasts with a creamy Dijon sauce, accompanied by a super dollop of smashed potatoes. We could label this a dish as begging for a take-home box, but we would be repeating ourselves, since every portion served at EAT Wilton Manors is large and ambitious.
Normally, the risk of getting a tough New York Strip Steak outside of a steak house is high. It is included on the dinner menu here at $25.95, but, on the night we went, was reduced as a special to $19.99. It was just too good of an opportunity to pass up, especially given that, coming from the short loin of the cow, this should be an extremely tender (and pricey) piece of beef.
EAT Wilton Manors did not disappoint. This cut of meat was made fmous at Delmonico’s in Manhattan in the 1800s as Delmonico Steak, and it was the pride of that legendary establishment—right along with Wedge Salad and Baked Alaska, don’t you know. At EAT, it comes piled high with more smashed potatoes and, on this night, delectable asparagus. It was tender, flavorful and cooked to a perfect medium-rare. Quite the deal, which we suspect won’t be offered at that price often.
Another excellent choice from the regular menu is the Pork Ribeye ($17.95). It is served boneless, with a cranberry reduction sauce that is just this side of being sweet. Sliced ¾ inch thick and taken up the better part of the plate, this entrée packs value and flavor, and receives our 5 Star rating for the evening.
EAT Wilton Manor is the latest effort of The Manors’ Paul Hugo who knows how to make a success of things on the Drive. He should be no less lucky with his newest endeavor, especially given co-owner Chef Rosario’s expansive menu offered in a space that is large enough to make for a very special evening. From sandwiches ($9.95-$13.95) to burgers ($10.95-$12.95) to calamari ($11.95) and Spinach and Artichoke Dip ($11.95).
Oh, and yes, like Scarfone’s before it, EAT Wilton Manors has wood-fired New York Pizza. It is thin crusted with that oh-so-burnt taste that proves the fire is real and hot. So too is the flavor. It is available by the (large) slice at $3.25. Buy a whole 19” pie and pay $17.95 for cheese, or $18.95 with pepperoni. Additional toppings are available at $1.50 or $2.00 each.
And don’t get us started on the desserts. You must try a slice of their house-made Tiramisu. It is the best we have tasted (and we’ve tasted dozens). At $7.95, it is worth every extra calorie.
EAT Wilton Manor is open daily for lunch and dinner (except Mondays) until 10 pm, has a full bar, and an extravagant Sunday buffet. Come early, stay late, and ask for the manager, Randy. He will treat you right. Tell him HotSpots! said so.