Off-the-radar Broward restaurants

When you’re assigned to check out three restaurants each month, you end up dining at places you might not otherwise have tried — sometimes with pleasantly surprising results.

Tuscany Caffe in Dania Beach definitely falls into the “nice surprise” category. Located on a side street in Dania’s antique district, it’s in an old antique store. There are only about a half-dozen tables, and the place is so small you almost feel like you’re visiting a friend who is cooking for you in the next room. The owner and his chef, both from Italy, opened Tuscany as a coffee shop several years ago, and now serve lunch and dinner daily except Sunday. The lunch menu is the more extensive, with paninis, pizzas, salads, pastas and entrees. There are about a dozen entree choices at dinner, including pastas, chicken, seafood and meat. Prices are reasonable, with nothing more than $20, but with no tap water served, you must pay for bottled water. Soup and salad are a la carte, but there are some nice, free extras like tomato bruschetta and after-dinner clementines, almond cookies and roasted chestnuts. Overall, the food is definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area. Our favorite was a house specialty, Linguine Mare & Monti, with clams, mussels, shrimp, sausage, zucchini, parsley and more in a light olive oil.

Tucked in a nondescript Hollywood strip shopping center, Dragon City isn’t fancy, but if you’re looking for authentic Chinese food in South Broward, it’s definitely worth a trip. The front of the dining room has aquariums with lobsters, crabs and fish waiting to be cooked. And on a Friday night, the small storefront was filled with several large Chinese families who were clearly regulars. We were presented with the American menu, which includes New York Chinatown classics like orange beef, chicken chow fun and scallops in black pepper sauce. All were flavorful dishes served in large portions with plenty of protein and vegetables. Even on the basics, Dragon City outdoes local competitors. It was only after we ordered that we realized a second, authentic Chinese menu was available (written in both Chinese and English) with delicacies like shark’s fin soup, abalone and braise sea cucumber. We watched in envy as exotic dishes made their way to nearby tables. Next time, we hope to have more of an adventure, although I don’t think we’re ready for sautéed pig intestine.

Opened a few weeks ago, Old Florida is an independent version of the old Sonny’s BBQ on the other side of the same shopping center. The new restaurant has a fresh look with lots of wood and red accents, plus it’s sparkling clean. The owners, chef and much of the staff are Sonny’s carryovers, and the menu has changed only slightly. It’s the usual mix of Southern barbecue, including ribs, pork, brisket, chicken and smoked turkey. Entrees come with garlic or corn bread plus a choice of two sides (ample servings) such as baked beans, sweet potato, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, fries, corn and mashed potatoes. The baby back ribs were well sauced and grilled, but a rather small rack. The ultimate combo offers a little bit of everything: chicken, pork, brisket and two St. Louis-style ribs. It’s the same, rather bland barbecue we remember from Sonny’s, but we liked the brisket, baby backs, coleslaw, beans and corn bread.

Source:  Miamiherald