First impression: From the greeting at the door to the particularly good pasta, the Italian food experience in Broward County doesn't get much better than at Fulvio's 1900. The store-front neighborhood charmer was opened in 1999 by husband-and-wife team Fulvio and Carmen Sardelli. Every dish is a mini-masterpiece, presented on big white plates and bowls, and served from a rolling cart.
Background: The Sardellis began as pizza makers in Davie some 30 years ago and eventually moved their menu toward fine dining. Four years ago, they opened Vino wine bar four doors west of Fulvio's, where about 64 different wines are available by the glass. The couple's next venture is Sardelli's, a four-story fine dining and banquet facility near the beach in Hollywood. It is scheduled to open in early December.
Ambience: Fulvio's feels very big-city with a corner, multi-windowed spot on Harrison Street. A comfortable bar along one side invites those who just want a quiet cocktail. Diners can choose between roomy banquets or tables in the persimmon-and mint-dining room, which is probably due for a light redo.
Starters: A tomato poached egg ($12) was exquisite, served with pancetta-dotted tomato sauce on a piece of toast. The Cubanelle pepper ($12) was stuffed with sausage bread stuffing and plated with tomato sauce. I wish the stuffing had had a little more oomph. Diver scallops ($15) were perfectly seared and served with a delicate stir-fry.
Entree excellence: The chef does pasta particularly well and plates perfect proportions of sauce to starch. If a special lobster in Fra Diavolo sauce with linguine ($38) is offered, be sure to order it. The sauce was spicy with red pepper. Lobster removed from the shell, as well as the pasta, were cooked perfectly. Rigatoni ($25) was served with a delicate Sunday gravy that contains a tender short rib, a meatball and one Italian sausage seasoned with fennel seeds. Stuffed chicken ($25) was very good with a crispy edge and matching brandy sauce. Snapper ($35), topped with crab and served with a lemon butter sauce, seemed oddly matched with mashed potatoes.
Sweet!: Dessert is a worthwhile expenditure of calories here, whether you order true New York-style cheesecake ($9), or creamy strawberry panna cotta ($9). Espresso ($3.50) was served in the classic Italian-American style, with a curl of lemon peel
Service: Quietly professional, with personnel seemingly at the table every time you need something.
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