September 22, 2018

Francesco Lapi’s Cafe Italia Fort Lauderdale

Spend just five minutes in Francesco Lapi’s Cafe Italia Fort Lauderdale, and there’s little doubt that this professional lives his passion.

An evening in this restaurant on the ground floor of an office building begins with a warm welcome followed by seating at one of 14 or so linen-covered tables. The unpretentious decor — walls painted a soothing fresco of deeply vibrant hues, each color playing nicely off the other — dovetails with the simplicity of the food.
It’s a subtle dinner menu, with moderate pricing and Italian standards, prepared Abruzzi style — sometimes excelling well beyond regional confines. Look for LASAGNA ALLA BOLOGNESE; EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA; CHICKEN CACCIATORE; ZUPPA DI PESCE; VEAL SALTIMBOCCA, LEG OF LAMB.

The perfect little Italian restaurant in fort lauderdale florida

Best of all, every table receives Lapi’s personal service and attention, in a one-man show supported by a small wait staff. He keeps the wine list in his head, so give him a rough idea of what you like and he’ll deliver appropriate selections.
Ask a few questions about the food and watch him shine. Don’t be surprised if he returns from the kitchen with bags of durum semolina pasta, or some other ingredient he thinks might interest you, to show his quality wares first hand. And, if you seem to be over-ordering, expect a gentle warning. Most portion sizes are large and there’s a quick caution about too many appetizers spoiling your entrees. It’s sort of like eating at your mother’s house — and I say that in the most loving sort of way.
Start with eggplant rollatini — unbreaded eggplant wrapped around bits of broccoli, topped with melted cheese and a delicate tomato sauce. Or, savor pleasing interpretations of refreshing salad caprese or prosciutto with melon.

Risotto Porcini Fort Lauderdale
Risotto Porcini

I like risotto as a first course, so it wasn’t long before we reveled in Lapi’s risotto con porcini. This rice has the perfect bite and texture. The flavors of porcini mushrooms and onions marry beautifully. Ditto on a richly luscious spaghetti carbonara — pasta cooked al dente, tossed with crispy pancetta, egg yolk, parmigiana and black pepper.


There was no leg of lamb prepared when we visited, so we took solace in the four gorgeous seared lamb chops Lapi recommended instead. Bathed in oil and garlic, the meat was nearly soft enough to cut with a fork. Chicken marsala brought a plateful of boneless breasts with plenty of mushrooms in a sauce edging to the sweet and oily side, but the flavors were terrific. The osso buco aficionado at our table thought was reasonable for the quality and quantity of tender veal slow-cooked in tomato sauce with celery, onions, carrots and red wine — and so did everyone who sampled it.

If you want an exquisite fresh fish experience, there’s no better choice than the signature yellowtail snapper. This stunning whole fish presentation (minus the head), arrives with its tail rising off the plate like a phoenix poised for flight. Mushrooms, diced tomatoes, wine and garlic delicately perfume the snow-white meat. On the other hand, be sure you like porcini before you order paparadelle mare e monti, a pasta and shrimp dish too intense with porcini flavors that also carried some unfortunately overcooked shrimp.
Have semifreddo cafe for dessert; it’s like chocolate mocha ice cream, or good American-style cheesecake with a crisp chocolate crust. While savoring the extra-creamy qualities, ponder this: What better way to experience a service business than with a man who works from his heart?
Critic Judith Stock
Sun Sentinel Dining Correspondent

July 17, 2018

Private Dining Birthday Parties Special Events

Thank you for your interest in Cafe Italia for your upcoming event. Our experienced staff are here to make your event a huge success and prepared to handle all your planning needs so you can relax and enjoy the process from beginning to end.

Cafe Italia in the heart of Fort Lauderdale features:

  1. Seating up-to 60 guests (restaurant buy-out)
  2. Amazing selection of wineries from Italy
  3. Outside patio seating
  4. Fully customizable menu and bring your own menu (BYOM) available
  5. Monthly reoccurring business meetings
  • Business Meetings
  • Birthday Parties
  • Baby Showers
  • Wedding Reunions

July 9, 2018

Best Italian Restaurant Fort Lauderdale

Amazing little restaurant near me has the best pasta dishes and sauces around. I stopped in to see what the place looked like since it has been there for over 20 years and never went in! It was a small cozy romantic restaurant with italian music playing. I liked the round chandeliers and asked where he got them. One of the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale for authentic Italian cuisine. I ordered the bucatini amatriciana and it was the best pasta I ever had in Fort Lauderdale.

There by Mistake!

Last week friends made a reservation at Fabio the Venetian and because it is attached to the Café Italia we went in the wrong door.. Surprise the food was great. In fact the portions were large enough that my wife and I shared a fish dish and side of pasta.. Their mussels where excellent.. Good wine choices although a little pricey. Keep in mind almost any restaurant will charge two to three times the price of a bottle of wine you can buy a Publix here in Florida.. Would definitely go back and most likely try Fabio then too.

Great Italian food and I am sure Mama must be in the kitchen!

This small restaurant is a great place to go for really tasty Italian food and the ability to have a conversation with your companion. How delightful to enjoy a meal and not feel you have to shout to be heard. I love this place and as everyone has commented the owner greets you and makes sure you are provided with everything you need. He is delightful too! There is also parking in the lot next door – a big plus!


Most Underrated Italian Fine Dining in Greater Fort Lauderdale!

Francesco, the 80-year old owner still greets the patrons. The menu is small but everything is made fresh to perfection. What we like most is that you add the sides of your choice to the basic, but very delicious entrees. Francesco’s wife is supervising the kitchen. And the saying “Italian Home Made Food” fits here perfectly. And something else: Even the food tastes like $$$$ they only charge $. We recommend a glass of house wine. Enjoy!!!

Authentic, Cozy and wonderful owner!

Food was really wonderful. The pwner, Francesco, Greeted us at the door, escorted us to our table, and was just the most wonderful host! FOOD, AND SERVICE IMPECCABLE. No Liquor, but good wine selection, and Italian beer. Dessert wonderful. Key Lime sorbet with cream, frozen. Like lemoncello grannata . Perfect ending. Best Corvina, in a Livornese sauce. YUM!! Suggest reservation on weekend come season. Small, intimate, and really nice for date night or family gathering.

March 22, 2018

Perfect Italian Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale

Found this italian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale last week while doing an Internet search. I lucked out because it turned out to be excellent and close to me. Very friendly staff. Wonderful food. Great service. I didn’t even know it was there for 20 years!

I was a little sad that they happened to be out of the swordfish that night but my second choice of the Gnocchi turned out to be excellent. Probably the best I have had. My friend had the Pappardelle Mare e Monti and she found it delicious perfectly cooked shrimp with amazing Porcini mushroom sauce. Risotto with mussels and shrimp was awesome! Real Arborio risotto and perfectly cooked seafood. Amazing authentic right in Fort Lauderdale.

Many Visits, Never Disappointed.

As Residents of Ft. Lauderdale My wife and I dine out very often, this little GEM is by far our Favorite for Italian and fresh Seafood dishes in Fort Lauderdale. Owners Francesco and Valerie from Italy oversee the food Prep and service, from the Provolone and Olives with Fresh Gran Forno bread Yumm. to the Fresh made to order.

Homemade Italian classics. decor is minimal but the show here is the Fabulous

Deliciousness! Awesome Italian in Fort Lauderdale.

I was here with a large group for dinner from Ft. Lauderdale. There was only one other guest when we arrived and he assured us we’d chosen a good place. He was right and by the time we were done several other tables had filled up. The owner was very attentive, even sitting down with us for a while and chatting with several people. Very large Italian menu with lots of choices. Great bread!!!!

Fortunately the server kept us supplied. We all tasted each other’s choices as everything was quite good. Large Italian portions and clearly all freshly made. Service was a little more leisurely than I like but given the size of group it was understandable.