You want pizza. Your friends are in the mood for sushi. Someone ends up disappointed.
But that’s not the case at Rice & Dough, a 2-month-old Fort Lauderdale restaurant that, as the name suggests, caters to both culinary cravings.
Don’t expect to find slices of sashimi atop your cheese pie. In the open kitchen, cooks are twirling dough and simmering tomato sauce, while at the sushi bar, the chef is slicing and dicing.
The menu separates the cuisines, but there’s a lot of cross-cultural ordering at the table. On one girls’ night out, we shared various rolls, edamame, a plate of prosciutto, cheese and olives and a marinara pizza. For salads, we could have ordered Caesar or a seaweed; for drinks, beer, wine or sake.
Perched on a corner just north of Las Olas Boulevard, the restaurant is charming enough for a date night but casual enough for kids. The decor is fun and contemporary, with black, white and red accents, comfy chairs and white origami lamps for an Asian accent.
Owners Goran and Amy Perovic set the friendly tone. Trained as a sommelier and manager, he has 20 years of restaurant experience, covering Italian, French, Continental, Asian and American cuisine in casual and fine-dining settings including Delray Beach’s Grand Enoteka and Fort Lauderdale’s Bova Prime.
As if juggling Italian and Japanese dishes wasn’t enough of a balancing act, the Perovics have added a few specialties from his native Croatia including one of our favorite items, ajvar. The creamy, reddish spread is a piquant and delectable mixture of roasted eggplant and sweet red peppers. There are also two Croatian wines on the moderately priced list of 100 bottles, many boutique choices, with 20 available by the glass for $5 to $9.
One of our favorite options: the create-your-own charcuterie plate with a top-notch selection of cold cuts (including prosciutto, capicola and sopressata), cheeses (brie, Gruyère, truffle Gouda), olives (Sicilian black, kalamata, gaeta) and spreads (pesto, artichoke campo basso, roasted garlic). It’s served with strips of warm bread made from pizza dough that the kitchen drizzles with a balsamic vinaigrette.
We also devoured fat, tender meatballs made of American kobe beef, topped with a light, house-made marinara sauce, ricotta and Parmesan. Or get it with broccoli rabe, cannellini beans and ricotta. There are only two entrees, a good but basic eggplant Parmesan and broccoli rabe and sausage.
Pizza gets more of a starring role, with 11 combos (or design your own). We love the Tartufo: cremini mushrooms, a few black truffles and an over-easy egg on a base of creamy, nutty fontina cheese, plus fine white truffle oil to tease your taste buds, all on a wonderfully crisp crust.
The sushi fans in our party liked the fresh, flavorful spicy tuna roll and the Chad Black dragon roll with its fun shrimp tempura crunch, avocado, slices of eel and eel sauce. We savored every bite of it on a Saturday night, but the tempura was a bit wimpy on a Monday night visit. We’ll have to try the raw bar next time.
For dessert, choose tiramisu or cheesecake, or spoil your inner child with the make-your-own sundae, a goblet of ice cream served with a tray of sprinkles, coconut, Nestle Crunch and other toppings.
Before you leave, sip a glass of house-made limoncello, which translates to “Thank you” in any culture.