And why not? Red is one of that new breed of American meateries, eschewing the clubby, dark wood-and-brass look of more traditional steakhouses, with their stuffy ambiance, overly formal service and achingly predictable menu for a restrained and elegant bit of contemporary style.
The main dining room carries through on the restaurant’s crimson theme, leavened by a variety of contrasting materials and textures, like the wall of horizontal banded limestone, another wall of checkerboard-y wood planks, plush black leather booths, and large wine room displaying its wares behind floor-to-ceiling glass panels. There are thoughtful touches too, like the tiny spotlights that keep the light sexy-low but still bright enough to read a menu, and the ceiling sound baffles that tamp down noise levels even when the dining room is going full swing.
Rosso is a different story. A different restaurant too, though both share bathrooms and the pastry department. It’s a wickedly stylish, thoroughly contemporary space, perhaps too much so for diners who expect to eat their pizza and pasta surrounded by murals of the Old Country and faux “Tuscan” artifacts. Myself, I love its look of whitewashed wood floors, white lacquer finishes with red accents, black tables and industro-modern chairs, open kitchen and cozy lounge area outfitted with sleek, Barcelona-style white leather furniture. It’s the kind of hip, minimalistic space you’d expect to see in New York or Los Angeles or Milan; I hope Boca is ready for it.
And now for the food. Among the highlights. . .
From Red, an updated version of hoary old shrimp scampi with four fist-sized prawns in a garlic and lemon-infused white wine sauce that makes you want to plop your face onto the plate and inhale every drop. (Luckily, the prawns sit on a long, thin crostini that sops up the sauce for you.)
Also a lightly dressed steak tartare, the restaurant’s signature aged certified Angus beef cut in big, half-inch chunks so you can really taste all their meaty goodness, a succulent ribeye with all the flavor you don’t get from the beef at certain other steakhouses that have dumbed down the quality of their product, some of the best mac ‘n’ cheese I’ve ever eaten and light, airy donut holes presented with a smear of raspberry puree.
From Rosso we knocked off a roasted artichoke, cut into quarters and lavished with herbs, cheese and breadcrumbs; a classic wedge salad with bits of crispy pancetta and golf ball-sized knobs of excellent gorgonzola; and terrific cannelloni, properly made with crepes and not dried pasta, stuffed with a blend of roasted mushrooms and house-made ricotta and mozzarella.
This is a long post, so here’s all the info you need to paint the town Red (or Rosso) on your own. . . Both are in the Wyndham Garden Hotel, 1901 N. Military Trail, 561/353-9139 (Red), 561/353-9819 (Rosso).