I was recently invited to a media dinner at Renzo’s of Boca, a fine Italian restaurant that has been serving the community for the past 25 years under the leadership of Chef/Owner Renzo. Now under the ownership of long time South Floridian restaurateur & Executive Chef Angelo Romano of Paradiso Ristorante fame in Lake Worth along with partner Marco Turano, who hails from Milan, Italy with a background in the food and wine industry, and 15 years in New York working along side some of the most sophisticated chefs in the city. Together, this dynamic duo and their staff are eager to welcome back long time patrons of Renzo’s and continue a Boca Raton legacy with new passion and a new perspective on fresh, bold Italian flavors, opting to infuse some of Renzo’s traditional classics along with introducing brand new dishes to the menu.
Renzo’s is tucked away in a mini strip center off of N. Federal Highway, a little north of Jeffrey Street. This little hidden treasure is sure big on charm! There are two distinct dining rooms with an outdoor terrace for al fresco dining. We were invited to enter the dining room to the left which housed the bar and piano. A lovely trio of holiday cocktail concoctions welcomed us as the piano man tickled the ivories.
Once all the guests had arrived, we were seated at a nice large round table and treated to our first dish, Quarteto di Antipasti. Let me begin by commenting on their choice of plating. It certainly had the “WOW” factor. The Antipasti consisted of Burrata with Pickle Eggplant, Calamari Salad, Beet & Apple Salad and Tuna Carpaccio. Each and everyone of these dishes was wonderful. So fresh and packed with so much flavor. My favorite however, was the Burrata. I am a huge fan of Burrata and I have to say that this one was the best tasting one I have had to date, bar none! Very, very impressive for sure.
Next course was another beautifully plated feast; this time a trio of Pasta e Risotto. Fiocchetti Pasta with Pear, Gorgonzola & Walnuts; Risotto Frutti di Mare; Gnocchi Vodka Sauce. This was a tough one to decide which I liked best because I really liked them all. If I had to pick just one though, I would say the Fiocchetti with Pear, Gorgonzola & Walnuts rose slightly to the top for me; it reminded me of a dish I have had called a “beggar’s purse” which I was very fond of. Anyway, you won’t be disappointed with any of these dishes, trust me.
For our next course, Pesce (Fish) we were treated to a Pistachio Encrusted Branzino and a Shrimp Zingara. The Branzino was served with a delicious Champagne Mustard Sauce and was cooked to perfection. It was light and flaky and the pistachio crust provided another dimension of flavor and texture. Yum! The shrimp were cooked just right and were accompanied by a lovely medley of sauteed peppers, onions and mushrooms.
For our Carne (Meat) course, we were treated to Chef Angelo’s award-winning Polpetta di Vitello (Veal Meatball) over Sheep Ricotta Cheese which was debuted in the BocaLocals March Meatball Madness Competition in 2014. The meatball was very good but the bed of ricotta cheese it sat upon was amazing!
Throughout the evening Marco poured two wines for us: a Tiefenbrunner Chardonnay and an Il Grigio Chianti Classico. They were perfect selections that went well with the courses that were served. Italian wines as well as wines from around the world can be found on the wine list. Domestic and Italian beers are served as well as an array of craft cocktails.
For our final course (Dolce), we were served a Ricotta Cheesecake. Given the choice of a NY Cheesecake and a traditional Italian Ricotta Cheesecake, 9 times out of 10 I would opt for the NY Cheesecake, but I definitely have to give kudos to the Chef for his wonderful rendition. It was very good and the fresh fruit on the side was a nice compliment.
Renzo’s is located at 5999 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton, just north of Yamato Road. They are open daily for lunch 11:30am – 2:30pm and dinner 5:30pm to 10pm. Live entertainment Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm. Renzo’s can accommodate private groups for dinner parties, anniversaries and other special events. For more info, call: 561-994-3495. Follow them on Facebook to stay up to date on their specials.
After being a sponsor of this event for a couple years now, I finally made it there in person this year. I can’t even begin to describe how super generous the organizers of this event are to their sponsors. Not only were we invited to several events leading up to the Grill-Off but following too. We also received a gorgeous box customized with our company’s logo placed on some cookies, some commemorative glasses and a lovely bottle of Cab personally signed by John Offerdahl himself. First class all the way.
The Gridiron Grill-Off in case you are not familiar with it is a Food, Wine & Tailgate Festival & Culinary Showdown that pairs up celebrity athletes (former Miami Dolphin legends) with some of the best local chefs to compete for the judges choice and the people’s votes for best recipe. Festival participants are encouraged to download the Gridiron Grill-Off app to vote for their favorite. Grill-Off proceeds benefit kids who are parentless (4Kids of South Florida) and homeless (HOPE South Florida) as well as these additional benefactors: Here’s Help, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association Educational Programs, Miami Dolphins Foundation and the “Taste of the NFL” Feeding South Florida.
Kicking off the sixth annual “John Offerdahl’s Broward Health® Gridiron Grill-Off Food & Wine Festival with a special early access from 12pm – 1pm, VIP ticket holders and media had a chance to do a Meet & Greet with this year’s national celebrity guest Adam Richman, author, actor and television personality.
Adam Richman grew up in New York and began his love affair with food early on, sampling all of the diverse culinary specialties the Big Apple has to offer. After years of travel and invaluable on-the-job experience in the various restaurants, Adam began hosting “Man v Food” for Travel Channel, which quickly became their highest rated show. Richman has returned to television to host Travel Channel’s “Man Finds Food” and NBC’s food competition show “Food Fighters.” Adam’s first book, “America the Edible” (Rodale Publishing), hit stands in 2010 and his second book, “Straight-Up Tasty” (Clarkson Potter), came out in June 2015.
Gridiron Grill-Off VIP ticket-holders received signed copies of “Straight-Up Tasty”. In addition, Adam cooked a recipe from his new book with John Offerdahl at 4 p.m. in the Toyota Cornhole Stadium and Festival Stage.
The event was held on the grounds of the Pompano Beach Amphitheater and despite the rain ascending upon the crowd pretty much most of the afternoon, it didn’t appear to dampen the spirits of those in attendance. I would not consider myself a sports fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a father and a brother who are fanatical. So as I made my rounds from station to station, I made a point to take a picture with as many of the football pros as possible to share with them. They were all so nice and of course so tall compared to me, lol!
Chef Chris Miracolo from S3 Restaurant at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort was back again this year to defend his title of 2014 Judge’s Choice Winner. Chef Victor Franco from Oceans 234 was back as well to defend his title of 2014 People’s Choice Winner. Did either of them nab this year’s coveted titles? You’ll just have to wait and see. Here were this year’s teams and what they created:
Bob Baumhover (’77-’86)
Chef Steve Zucker
Alabama Gulf Shrimp
Marco Coleman (’92-’95)
Chef Andres Avayu
Feta Stuffed Lamb Burger
Jeff Cross (’88-’96)
Chef Nicole Rhone
The G-Bar, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina
Donut Bourbon Bacon Burger
Channing Crowder (’09-’11)
Chef Chris Miracolo
S3 Restaurant at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort
Grilled Lobster & Pork Belly
Troy Drayton (’96-’99)
Chef Zhongbo Zhang
AJ Duhe (’77-’84)
Chef Jeff Pfeiffer
Lobster Bar Sea Grille
Mark Duper (’82-’92)
Chef Victor Franco
Thai Chicken Wrap
Jay Fiedler (’00-’04)
Chef Michael Saperstein
BBQ Lamb Spare Ribs
Roy Foster (’82-’90)
Chef Oliver Saucy
Darrel & Oliver’s Cafe Maxx
Grilled Wagyu Steak Tacos
Mark Higgs (’90-’94)
Chef Ralph Pagano
Key West Shrimp Tacos
Jim “Crash” Jensen (’81-’92)
QB / WR / RB #11
Chef Rick Schwager
Crusted Beef Tenderloin
Larry Little (’69-’80)
Chef Ulises Mar
15th Street Fisheries
Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas
Sam Madison (’97-’05)
Chef Heather Waid
Beauty and the Feast, The Atlantic Hotel & Spa
Dr. Pepper Pork Sliders
Don McNeal (’80-’89)
Chef Kenny Velsor
The Grill, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale
Eugene “Mercury” Morris (’69-’75)
Chef Gary Klinefelter
Diplomat Prime, Diplomat Resort & Spa Hollywood
Mojo Pulled Pork
Tony Nathan (’79-’87)
Chef Dustin Gordon
Chef’s Palette Café and Grill, The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale
McCoy’s Oceanfront, Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa
Wagyu Beef Tostones
Shawn Wooden (’96-’99)
Chef Anthony Fiorini
13 American Table
While there were so many wonderful dishes being turned out, there were a few stand out dishes in my opinion. I really enjoyed the taste and presentation of the Grilled Octopus from Team Wooden/Chef Anthony Fiorini 13 American Table. I also enjoyed the pork belly dish created by Team Crowder/Chef Chris Miracolo S3 Restaurant. And last but not least, I thoroughly enjoyed the Thai Chicken Wrap created by Team Duper/Chef Victor Franco Oceans 234.
This year’s esteemed judges were Chefs Michelle Bernstein, Allen Susser & Mark Militello along with Burger Beast’s Sef Gonzalez and Jack Kane, the culinary academic department director at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. So….who does the 2015 judge’s choice trophy go to???? Chef Greg McGowan from Pelican Landing and #23 Troy Stradford earned it with their Grilled Spanish Octopus. And the People’s Choice???? Chef Ralph Pagano from Naked Taco and #21 Mark Higgs nailed it with their Key West Shrimp Tacos. Congrats to them and to all the participating contenders for an awesome day; one that will undoubtedly enrich the lives of many children in need. Here are some of my highlights from the day. Enjoy.