Dania Beach Delights

Tarks has been in this location since 1966. Photo: Joshua Prezant
Tarks has been in this location since 1966. Photo: Joshua Prezant

Dania Beach may not get as much notoriety as neighbors Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, but its dining options are more plentiful than one would expect for a small city.

Tony Suriani Sr. started family-owned and operated Antonio’s in 1978.  The restaurant got a modern upgrade when it relocated to Dania Beach Boulevard this summer – think flat screen TVs, wine cellar décor & free WiFi. What hasn’t changed is the menu of classic Italian favorites like lasagna, manicotti, veal Marsala, pizzas, subs and calzones. Portions are huge – all meals come with soup or salad and homemade garlic rolls dinners are easily enough for two. The chicken parmigiana boasted two large lightly breaded, greaseless pieces of chicken perfectly balanced with cheese and sauce. Chicken cacciatore featured lightly sautéed chicken breast pieces served over a large bowl of pasta.

The lively atmosphere at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant is perfect for a party or entertaining young children. Lots of loud music, line-dancing waiters and a belly dancer all make for quite a show on Friday and Saturday evenings. The menu includes all the traditional Greek fare and plenty of options for sharing. Share a bunch of the traditional meze (appetizers) like saganaki (flaming cheese) or keftedes (beef patties). Heartier fare brings choices ranging from kebobs to whole yellowtail snapper, lamb shank and traditional baked dishes like pastitsio or moussaka. Spanakopita was perfectly seasoned and encased in a crispy phyllo crust. The chicken kebab and gyro platter were amply portioned and solidly executed.

Tarks clam shack got its start in Dania Beach in 1966 and eventually grew to a regional chain. But today the original is all that remains and the crowds are still packing in. The tiny shack on Federal Highway is not long on atmosphere (there’s only a counter with stools and some outside picnic tables), but locals come for the clams, chicken wings, seafood and cheap beer. Sit at the counter and watch the cooks boil your clams in a big pot or fry the chicken wings. Regulars come for the nightly specials, such as a pound of Alaskan snow crab for $14.95 on Saturday and Sunday and chicken wings for $5.95 on Mondays. Steamed belly clams were a winner while shrimp on the barbie were good, but not special and the chicken wings and fried combo platter could have used extra time in the fryer.