By Rebecca Cahilly-Taranto
City & Shore Magazine
What is luxury dining today? It may be formal and elegant. It may be casual and downright noisy. But these three chefs insist, it’s all about the food.
I like to think of Chef Angelo Elia as the godfather of 5-star dining, at least in South Florida. The Italian-born chef/restaurateur made waves here when he opened his first restaurant, Casa D’Angelo, in Fort Lauderdale in 1998. A unique offering at the time, Casa D’Angelo’s menu emphasized traditional Tuscan, from-scratch dishes served in a silver-service setting.
To withstand the culinary test of time besieging so many South Florida restaurants – often swallowing them whole – is no small feat; but Casa D’Angelo has done just that for nearly 20 years. Not only has the restaurant remained successful amid an endless buffet of new concepts and trends, it’s retained its position at the forefront of elegant dining options. In the years since his debut here, Chef Elia went on to open another highly acclaimed Casa D’Angelo at The Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in The Bahamas, a third in Boca Raton, and a selection of pizza, tapas and wine bars as well as, most recently, a European/Italian bakery bar.
As the picture of upscale dining continues to evolve, to itself Casa D’Angelo remains true. Chef Angelo says that 5-star dining today is not about being formal for formal’s sake, rather about something he focused on from the very start.
“It’s true that 5-star dining used to be more about the classic environment that the establishment offered – white tablecloths, crystal glasses and top-notch service, but the focus wasn’t always on the food,” he says. “At my restaurants, I have always put the food first, making it a priority to serve only delicious dishes made with the highest quality and freshest ingredients. Serving the perfect dish in a welcoming environment with an outstanding staff are what make up a true 5-star dining experience.”
Casa D’Angelo Ristorante A consistent favorite for elevated, classic Italian. 1201 N. Federal Highway, Suite 5B, Fort Lauderdale, 954-564-1234, casa-d-angelo.com.
Palm Beach County
The rising popularity of TV cooking shows has given rise to a new form of 5-star dining – where there’s a face and a name to back up the dishes coming from the kitchen.
Lindsay Autry, a Top Chef finalist and former sous chef for celebrated Miami chef Michelle Bernstein, is one such face, and her new The Regional Kitchen & Public House is bringing a new version of 5-star dining to CityPlace in West Palm Beach.
“In the eight years that I have lived in South Florida, specifically the Palm Beach area, I have seen a great amount of growth in our dining scene,” Chef Lindsay says. “We have defined a new style of upscale dining through approachable restaurants with local roots. I think that The Regional embodies that concept by providing our community with a range of approachable and chef-driven menu items to cater to many demographics.”
To Chef Lindsay, 5-star dining means creating a memorable dining experience through exceptional and unexpected execution. “The sense of 5-star dining doesn’t have to be exclusive to porcelain china and high thread-count linen anymore, but by the way the guest feels after dining in an exceptional ambience.”
In the end, the essence of 5-star dining comes down to the food … and authenticity.
The Regional Kitchen & Public House An innovative approach to deep-rooted traditions from a chef-driven kitchen. CityPlace, 651 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach, 561-557-6460, eatregional.com.
“Opa!” Just south of the Broward/Miami-Dade county line, the piercing shatter of plates breaking accompanies lively music and shots of ouzo. It’s a Thursday night and the newly opened Atlantikós restaurant at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is alive with celebration. In the kitchen, 29-year-old Chef de Cuisine Tasos Chasekioglou carefully plates one of his signature creations: Kritharoto Melani, featuring black-ink orzotto, langoustines, crispy calamari and grey mullet bottarga – a delicacy of salted, cured fish from the protected destination of origin (DOA) Messolonghi.
Hailing from Thessaloniki, Greece, the young chef has landed a dream job, relocating with his wife to Bal Harbour to bring an authentic Greek experience to the resort’s dining options.
Chef Tasos creates traditional Greek recipes that reflect elements of the mainland and isles, but are elevated to suit the Miami market. “The south of Greece is very different from the north; some islands are famous for meat, others seafood,” he says. “I try to present the best dishes and most unique products from each area to take our customers on a journey.”
From the imported Greek spices that are mixed with the imported olive oil used for dipping the housemade bread to the imported sea fennel (quite possibly the next kale-esque craze) to the imported Greek honey drizzled on the grilled halloumi cheese, the menu at Atlantikós highlights the flavors and traditions of Greece. There’s grilled octopus with Santorini-style fava, marinated sardines with crushed olives from Thassos Island, beef corfu sofrito, and, of course, a selection of traditional Greek desserts, wines, beers and liqueurs to round out the voyage.
“Chef Tasos is young but he cooks like my grandma,” says our Greek waiter as he opens a bottle of Santorini Vinsanto. “He prepares for Miami but the ingredients, the texture, is Greece.”
Prior to taking the helm at Atlantikós, Tasos was the senior chef de partie at fine dining restaurant Arola in Verbier, Switzerland. He held positions in Amsterdam and was the sous chef at Sheraton Rhodes Resort in Greece, where he also held a position at L’onda restaurant.
Like the plate-smashing ritual that symbolizes smashing the elements of formality, Atlantikós is a taste of the next generation of fine dining.
“To me, fine dining is all about respect of the product,” Chef Tasos says. “It’s not about the restaurant,” he gestures to the bright Mediterranean-inspired décor and the tables topped in slabs of stunning blue agate, “It’s about respect for the quality of the product, for simplicity and consistency. In Greece we have the best of everything. I’m happy to bring that taste to South Florida.”
Atlantikós A virtual tasting tour of Greece and its isles, genuine and authentic. St. Regis Bal Harbour, 9703 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour, 305-993-3333, stregisbalharbour.com/atlantikos.