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Restaurants & Bars 5

Lino Mandolino in Pompano

JmVikmanis | Dec 5, 200305:06 PM

In my quest to check out all possible restaurants in my newly adopted town, we went last night to this little Italian on North Federal Highway, just a few blocks from Atlantic Blvd. We'd intended to go to an old standby--La Veranda--but the streets were blocked off because of some sort of parade. So we just kept going on Federal Highway and there it was, a little place that I'd seen several times before but never thought to try. Must admit, it looks more than a little kitschy from the outside--blue neon and venus type statues. I was expecting something similar inside and a rather downscale, inexpensive little hole in the wall. Wrong! It's small enough. I didn't count but probably no more than 12 - 15 tables. But it's rather attractive inside. Nice pictures of Italian women by a somewhat famous Italian artist. A gigantic clock in the doorway area, inexplicably keeping good time but an hour fast. Only three filled tables--one romantic couple, a party of 6 or 8, and my husband and I. But it's not cheap. $7-9 appetizers. $15 pastas and meat and seafood in the 20 and up category. Prices are this high because it's not really a neighborhood restaurant, rather a small sort of special occasion place and with very fresh food--that's never cheap.

We started with caprese salad and seafood salad. The former was what I was expecting--tomato slices, mozzarella slices, basil and balsamic. The mozzarella was perfect bufalo mozzarella and the balsamic probably a step above the average. The seafood salad was not at all what I was expecting. Not the usual chopped seafood in olive oil and lemon. Rather, a perfectly done selection of whole shrimp, mussels in the shell, squid slices and whole scallops on a bed of greens. They came warm and dressed with a touch of oil and lemon and each was perfectly done. A minute longer (or maybe even a second or two) and they'd have been over done. A minute less and they'd have tasted almost raw. Absolutely perfect.

My husband had papardelle with wild mushrooms. It was very mushroomy and made him very happy. I had fettucine carbonara with little chunks of proscuitto and a fleck or two of arugula every now and then in a lovely cream sauce. Everything was pretty classic and again the pasta was perfectly done.

Service was excellent. A very cute, eager to please older gentleman waited on us. He's likely been in the business all of his life. A real pro. The first course didn't come out very quickly. Apparently it takes longer to poach seafood perfectly than to just dish up already made cold salad. Everything else was timed well.

There was a small but nicely selected wine list and prices seemed reasonable for what's offered. Selections include some high end Italian and Spanish wines. They are high end but not high priced. There are also several selections in the $25 to 30 range.

A bonus. The owner, who was watching over things for the evening, plays the piano and sings. So there's nightly entertainment, too.

Before I go gaga over this place, I want to try it one more time and have some of the meat or seafood selections. For appetizers and pasta, wine and service and nice decor--so far, so good.

The place has been there for about a year. I'd like to hear from anyone else who's been there. Thanks.

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