By Rebecca Cahilly-Taranto
City & Shore Magazine
The national Mastro’s Restaurants group sought out some serious local talent to launch its first foray in South Florida, Mastro’s Ocean Club on the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale, luring experienced servers from a who’s who of local restaurants. Overseeing the kitchen is Executive Chef Rocco Nankervis, who brings more than a decade of culinary experience from the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale and the former Waldorf Astoria in Naples. Chef Rocco has also appeared on Food Network’s Chopped and has won multiple cooking competitions.
We talked about his culinary roots, his newest venture in Fort Lauderdale and the dish he might order for himself, if the tables were reversed. (Hint: It involves truffles).
C&S: Tell us about your culinary style.
RN: South Florida is a culinary melting pot that has directly influenced me as a chef. Seafood, fresh flavors and vibrant colors define my cooking style.
C&S: How are you translating your experience at high-end resort restaurants now to Mastro’s?
RN: At the luxury brands I formerly worked with, I spent time focusing on techniques to really enhance the guest experience. I love the attention to detail and personalization of the overall dining experience that Mastro’s delivers. Every meal is distinctive and memorable. Since the opening, my Charred Spanish Octopus dish has been one of our top sellers. I look forward to developing and incorporating other creative additions to the menu.
C&S: Mastro’s is a national name, but this is its first restaurant in Florida. What are the standards that Mastro’s sets for its locations?
RN: Everything about Mastro’s is first-class. Whether you’re in Malibu and the waves of the Pacific Ocean are crashing under you, or on the historic Boston Harbor, you will never be disappointed with the ambience and energy at a Mastro’s restaurant. In Fort Lauderdale, you can arrive by boat and feast on fresh-catch fish, like Florida Snapper, Florida Grouper and Mahi Mahi caught just miles from here.
C&S: In your opinion, what does Mastro’s bring to the Fort Lauderdale dining scene?
RN: Mastro’s arrival to Fort Lauderdale was right on time. Our guests are really enjoying the experience we have to offer. We don’t fit the mold of a traditional steakhouse. We feature an extensive seafood and sushi menu, offer live entertainment seven nights a week, highlight the beautiful Intracoastal waterfront views and have numerous outdoor seating areas. The entire ambience of what we do here is uniquely amazing. It really feels like the place to be.
C&S: What dish on the menu is your personal favorite?
RN: If I had to pick a favorite dish it would be the Truffle King Crab Gnocchi – it is simply amazing. It is an irresistible side dish that pairs perfectly with any of our offerings.
Mastro’s Ocean Club Fort Lauderdale’s
YACHT 27 SANGRIA
4 ea. blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
1 orange slice (do not muddle), add ice
1 oz. Yacht Club vodka
1 oz. Fonseca Bin 27 port
1/4 oz. St-Germain Elderflower
1/2 oz. simple syrup
½ lemon, squeeze and discard
Shake and pour into wine glass
Splash of Fever Tree club soda
Garnish with a lemon zest