West Broward tends to lack quality, independent restaurants, so promising newcomers are always welcome. Here are three:
Italian Red Sauce
A visit to this Sunrise restaurant is like a step back in time to New York in the 1950s. Owner Al Ceparano modeled one of the faux storefronts in the dining room after his grandmother’s Little Italy restaurant and another after his wife’s grandparents’ Brooklyn bakery.
While Ceparano’s family has been in the restaurant for decades, this is his first venture, but you wouldn’t know it from the way he works the room.
“That’s how we were taught,” Ceparano said. “There’s no other way. We believe that the relationship with the customer is very important.”
The menu focuses on classics like parmigiana and pizzaiola plus house-made pastas. Everything is served a la carte in two sizes, a single portion that really feeds two and a family-size that feeds three to four.
The vinaigrette-dressed house salad with Asiago cheese, roasted peppers, tomatoes and kalamata olives is a good light starter. Hearty gnocchi with braised short ribs melts in your mouth, and while the chicken marsala could have used more mushrooms, you could taste the wine. Veal romana with prosciutto, sage and sherry wine sauce was soft as butter but a bit overdone.
We hope the low-visibility mall location and higher price point won’t keep customers away from this gem, because we can’t wait to come back.
Italian Red Sauce, 3828 N. University Dr., Sunrise; 954-533-8347, italianredsauce.net; appetizers $10.95-$22.95, pastas $14.95-$34.95, entrees $16.95-$39.95.
From the name to the cartoon logo, you can’t help but smile walking into this new Davie fast-casual restaurant. The owner was involved in the startup of Chicken Kitchen, and has high hopes for building 2-month-old Knucklehead into a chain with franchise ownership.
The menu focuses on burgers, but there are also hot dogs, sandwiches (chicken, fish and bologna), chicken wings and salads, plus sides of fries, chips, onion rings, milkshakes and a seasonal selection of beer and wine.
Burgers, made from a lean mix of filet mignon, brisket and chuck, look like they came off a backyard grill. Baked daily, buns include a hearty whole wheat option. Choose from specialty burgers like the Rise & Shiner with a fried egg, Cheddar cheese and bacon, or order the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) and customize it.
We enjoyed both the Rodeo (bacon, Cheddar, onion rings and barbecue sauce) and the Bleu Bruiser (sautéed onions, bacon and bleu cheese). French fries were the frozen variety, but were served piping hot with Parmesan and garlic. Our favorite side: Black & Bleu Chips with crumbled bacon and bleu cheese.
Execution wasn’t 100 percent, but we attributed that to training issues and will definitely be back.
Knucklehead Burgers, 4900 S. University Dr., Davie; 954-434-0013, knuckleheadburgers.com; burgers $5.99-$10.99, sandwiches $5.99-$7.59, hot dogs $4.39-$7.99, salads $5.99-$8.49, sides $2.59-$4.59.
This small, stylish Japanese and Korean steak house in The Shoppes at Silver Lakes is part of a Broward expansion for a locally owned chain with outlets in Doral and Kendall. Groupon deals and weekly specials (kids eat free Sunday) bring down prices that we found high for this kind of neighborhood offering.
The ambitious menu includes a wide selection of sushi rolls, teriyaki, tempura, noodle dishes and Korean barbecue. We went for the hibachi table, where the waiter puts on a show along with a meal that includes a choice of protein, salad, soup, vegetables and rice. (An extra $2.95 for hibachi-fried rice seemed unreasonable.)
The food quality and preparation were good. Shrimp and churrasco steak were the most flavorful. The chicken would have been less bland if our server had remembered to offer dipping sauces.
Soo-Woo Japanese & Korean Steakhouse, 18283 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines; 954-447-0888, thesoowoo.com; sushi rolls $5.25-$16.95, most Japanese entrees $11.95-$25.95, most hibachi meals $16.95-$36, Korean entrees $10.95-$29.95