Tuesday, December 5, 2023

First Bite: Apicius in Lantana

I’d been peeking in the windows of Apicius (210 E. Ocean Ave., 561/533-5998), the newish upscale Italian eatery on Lantana’s Ocean Avenue, for several days already, admiring the gorgeous, elegantly laid out dining room, which opens to a pretty tropical patio.

So finally we got around to making it there for dinner, and while there are still a few kinks to work out with the food, I must say I also admire proprietor Leo Balestrieri’s opening a classy and sophisticated (if not exactly cheap) Italian restaurant when everyone else is pushing pizza and meatballs.

A full review will be coming in a future issue of the magazine, but here are a few hints. First, the restaurant itself is lovely, its spacious covered patio a sexy and inviting place to dine. There’s a small bar too, one that makes me want to drop in some evening and sip my way through its encyclopedic, mostly Italian wine list, which puts all but a handful of South Florida wine lists to serious shame.

As for the food, a generously portioned salad of thick-sliced tomatoes and lots of creamy gorgonzola cheese would have been perfect had the tomatoes displayed any summer-ripe flavor. I wasn’t a big fan of the carpaccio either. But linguine con vongole was a refined and precisely executed version of an Italian classic, while a big plate of gnocchi featured admirably light potato dumplings in a ravishing (and rich) sauce of truffles, peas and fresh chanterelles.

Our appetites gave out at that point (we had just returned from a week of eating and drinking in New Orleans). But there’s enough going on at Apicius to bring me back for another go-round as soon as my waistline relaxes a little bit.

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