As you head west on Sample Road, the free-standing Sicilian Oven sits on the site of the former DiSalvos on the south side. While the location is superb with ample parking; it’s also a double-edge sword. Similarity with the former ends, however, with the address. Enter the now uber-cool, trendy bistro with its sexy lighting, sophisticated vibe and wide-open kitchen and you don’t even have to eat to understand the difference.
But when you do EAT? Sicilian Oven vaults to the stratosphere.
Simple and unpretentious, the menu is what I personally love. One page, it ignites all palettes. Sicilian Oven is a place to meet friends, linger over good wine and SHARE a well-thought out array of tapas (small plates). According to partners Ralph DiSalvo and Andrew Garavuso (both bear formidable business and culinary backgrounds), “when we perfected the first location in Lighthouse Point; ambiance, menu and consistently great food, and that location became busy EVERY night, would we then move on to a second location. Not a minute before.” Getting it right is equally important to both of these savvy restauranteurs. Too many places expand before they’re ready. Sicilian Oven did it right. Either Ralph or Andrew can be found on-site, every night. They greet every patron, and thank them when leaving but not before checking on their experience. In our three-hour visit, not one person exiting said anything less than, “everything was amazing” (or accolades to that effect).
When devotee friends raved time and again about their signature Sicilian Salad ($9.5 or with gorgonzola on the side $11), the carb junkie in me wondered, what’s so unreal about a salad that’d make you rave? Then I tried it. OMG. They call it Sicilian salad, I’d call it the Kitchen Sink salad, loaded with fresh Roma tomatoes, garbanzo beans, onions, fabulously roasted peppers, with chunks of shaved parmesan, on fresh greens; together the taste IS to rave about.
Followed by what the duo calls the Stack of Sicily ($10), a robust portion of lightly sautéed eggplant, fresh mozzarella, and tomato, it’s served with an outrageous balsamic reduction and again, close yes, insert fork in mouth, die smiling.
Their Rice Balls ($9) are like grandma makes; no BS. Like any second, a 4’8” 89 year-old Italian lady will bound from the kitchen and ask, “how you like it?” Served with their carmelized, fresh, homemade sauce, served chilled. Mamma Mia. They’re so cool here, too. If there’s an extra peep in your party you can order an extra one for $3.
Do not leave without trying their Fire-Roasted Shrimp Palermo, bread-crumb topped shrimp with a lemon-white wine sauce ($12) AND Cervellata & Broccoli Rabe ($14) sautéed mini rope sausage that takes on a new personality in that wood oven. They’re SO good you honestly cannot comprehend how such simple ingredients can taste this good. They were my favorite. Until the next thing arrived.