Downtown, though, the city keeps bracing for a renaissance that never quite happens. But now there’s Circ. And Circ, part of the development that includes Hollywood’s new Publix, wants to be the change that Hollywood needs.
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The $200 million project includes a 111-room hotel — the first in downtown Hollywood in more than 30 years — and the 25-story Circ Residences with 389 apartments. There’s a terrific upscale Italian restaurant and a rooftop bar with great views and Instagrammable cocktails, and you don’t need to be a hotel guest to go to either one.
There’s even a ground-floor coffee shop, Presto, that neatly replaces the late, lamented Starbucks that used to be across the street.
The restaurant and rooftop bar are already drawing a crowd — the season hasn’t started yet, and both are busy, especially on the weekends.
So here’s your first look at the property. Will it transform Hollywood’s downtown? Will it draw visitors from Miami and Fort Lauderdale? We don’t know. But we like this direction.
Olivia Restaurant & Bar is an airy, spacious but unpretentious spot that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s open to hotel guests, residents and locals who wander over in search of an upscale dining experience.
Reservations aren’t a bad idea on the weekends, even in the summer. On the night we went the tables were full and the room had a lively buzz, with every seat filled at the spacious bar.
The food is Italian, which means you can’t go wrong with pasta, but there are also plenty of meat and seafood dishes, plus nightly specials. Pasta dishes run from $11.50 (capellini pomodoro) to $22 (beet lobster ravioli). Even the lunch menu is extensive, though if you just want one of the flatbreads ($9.95-$13.50), that’s OK, too.
Other menu items include salmone rubino (Alaskan salmon topped with lobster bisque and chopped shrimp, $29.95) and traditional Italian specialties (such as veal scallopini piccata, $19.95, and chicken marsala, $17.95). Steak dishes cost $26-$27.
By the way, if your waiter tells you that one of the specials is a spinach-infused gnocchi in porcini mushroom sauce served in a Parmesan bowl, ORDER IT IMMEDIATELY. You can thank me later.
The wine list is extensive, with many Italian choices. If that intimidates you, no worries — there are more familiar options, too. Our waiter had good suggestions, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Pro tip: The desserts we tried were all good, and you’ll be tempted to get the tiramisu. Resist and order the pistachio tartufo instead. Better yet, order both.
If a private dining space is what you’re looking for, you can reserve the Cellar, a private room that seats up to 14 people, with a nice view of the wine. And who doesn’t want to gaze lovingly at wine?
There is a mozzarella bar. Seriously.
At this wondrous corner of the restaurant, fresh, delicious mozzarella is made fresh every day and paired with prosciutto, salmon or roasted marinated peppers, mushrooms and artichokes (all for $15.95). There are plenty of other appetizers on the menu, and we are betting most of them are pretty tasty. But how do you walk away from a warm hunk of salty perfection?
The Muse Rooftop Bar & Lounge
The Muse has everything a good rooftop bar should: Great views. Cool, delicious drinks that look great on Instagram. And one giant fan to keep things breezy in the South Florida summer. The hours are 11 a.m.-11 p.m., although let’s be honest: Right now, it’s a little steamy to be up there during the day. Wait until the sun goes down, order a drink and marvel at how nice Hollywood looks from above.
Speaking of that view…
Yes, Miami folk. That is Hollywood down there.
The hotel is running summer specials before the season gets started, so check out its packages. Special rates start at $89 for some rooms this summer. Sometimes a staycation is 100 percent worthwhile.
Sadly, the small hotel pool with the view of the beach is for guests only. Guess you’ll just have to book a room next time.