Last Update
Jun 21st, 2019

Tuscan Prime

401 E Las Olas Blvd
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33301
754 312-3235
Overall Rating
2.8
Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Last Review
06/20/2019

Details

Hours: Sun-Thu 11a-11p, Fri 11a-12am, Sat 3p-12am
Parking: Street Metered, Valet
CC: Yes
Alcohol: Full Bar
HasWifi: No
Outdoor: Yes
Happy Hour: 3-7 Daily (All Day Monday) 1/2 apps/flatbreads and mixed drinks under $16

Pros

Elegant Interior

Cons

A bit Too Fancy
Expensive Food
Ordinary Menu

Critic's Review

It was time to try Tuscan Prime. I've walked by countless times and the bar is ALWAYS empty. It's not like I've never had lunch in an empty restaurant before.

Something interesting was that they took the menus down that were up in front of the restaurant; maybe they thought it was scaring off potential customers?

This restaurant has gone through a couple of reconfigurations through its history; There used to be 2 bars in the front and now there's just the 1; There's a tree in the "Olive Tree Lounge" with a bunch of tables.

The hostess was away from her station so a server showed me to a table. I didn't want to sit at the bar and I hate bench seating.

The booths are for 6, but I asked for one anyway. At 2:15 the 340 seat restaurant had 4 other customers.

My server was a bit too enthusiastic for my taste; "absolutely" was his response to every request; I didn't let on that I already knew what I was having. I ordered an iced tea and bread was provided without having to ask for it.

This is a perfect example of a restaurant doing the wrong thing to try to prove they're at some higher level to the detriment of the product. My server said this was a tapenade, but it was really just a mess. Mushy eggplant, a whole olive, a puddle of oil.

Tapenades are usually like a paste; this was more like a bad caponata. "Delicious' my server said. To me, it's junk; just give me some olive oil. Too much yeast in the bread anyway; it was mostly crust and air bubbles.

My server tried to push a couple of pastas; I told him I wanted the orecchiette; I pronounced it correctly (O-reck-ee-et-tay) and he had no idea what I was ordering. "Do you want to add a protein to that", he asked. "It comes with sausage", I quipped; he had to look at the menu to figure out what I ordered.

There's a nice view of Del Frisco's; loungey music fills the air: Blue Six, Stardust. Could be worse, I suppose.

The food came out in 8 minutes.

A very neat version. Not a bad portion; I wondered if the "Pastabilities" $12 portion was the same as the regular portion. It tasted pretty good, although it wasn't really made properly. This sausage was par-cooked; the dish is supposed to combine the fat from the sausage with olive oil, garlic and a bit of the pasta water to create a garlicky sauce. This was more of an assembled version.

The pasta was a bit flimsy; the really good orecchiette is thick; the stuff they sell at Trader Joe's is superb and inexpensive. I also prefer this dish with hot sausage; the best places use both sweet and hot.

The strategy is to get a bit of sausage, broccoli rabe and some pasta on each forkful.

To be fair, this was a lot better than the slop I got at Big City Tavern and Casa Calabria. I've had this dish at Cafe Europa, Bistro Mezzaluna, Setto Bella, and Mancini's and nobody makes it the way you'd get it at Rao's in NYC. It's never going to be very good with par cooked sausage.

About halfway through my meal, my server offered me some grated parmesan. Kind of late, but ok. Romano is the proper cheese for this dish; I asked if they had Romano, and he had to check. No Pecorino Romano here. An "elevated" Italian restaurant with no Romano

This was more than I wanted for lunch, so I informed my server I was going to take the rest home and asked for my check. At this point I asked about the portions; the dinner portion is bigger than the lunch portion, but on Thursdays they're both $12. So the dinner is a much better deal. With the $3.25 iced tea this came to over $17; still not a cheap lunch.

When I got home there was a bit of comedy when I opened up the bag.

They apparently don't have the proper containers for pasta. You might want to consider this when ordering take out.

Conclusion

The Monte Restaurant Group ripped a perfectly good restaurant to create a restaurant that to me is a bit too fancy; a bit too bright and a bit too white. I think they're making the same mistake that Grille 401 made; they're trying to push the false narrative that their food is "elevated" in some way, while in reality it's a pretty ordinary menu. There's nothing elevated about par-cooked sausage; what's the point of sausage without the fat?

Rare and Grille 401 failed to understand that Fort Lauderdale is a shorts and flip flops kind of town; even the multi-millionaires are casual. This place just seems too froofy to me. Maybe a place to take your Mom on her birthday.

Previous Musings

This is probably the worst marketed restaurants since Grille 401, and it's not even the Gab Group! For weeks they talked about "Prime Time" without anyone knowing what it meant. It appears that it means happy hour, although they've managed to irritate a lot of people with their stupid specials, which limit what you can get by the menu cost.

The wording is somewhat ambiguous. For their happy hour, they have 1/2 price starters, flatbreads and drinks under $16; which could mean "drinks under $16" or any of the 3 under $16. They claim that ALL Starters and Flatbreads are 1/2 off. Someone on Yelp complained that they were charged full price for Octopus. So ASK before you order.

Pre-opening Musings

The Monte Restaurant Development Group, based out of Annapolis, MD is heading up this project to marry prime steaks and chops with elevated Italian classics including a masterfully crafted wine list. See you this Spring for our grand opening!

So a restaurant group from Maryland is opening a 340 seat Italian Chophouse across the street from Timpano, a 305 seat Italian Chophouse and right next door to Del Frisco's 274 seat steak house?

Timpano's only busy for dinner on weekends, Grille 401 was never busy and Del Frisco's isn't open yet. It's going to be tough competition to fill those 1000 seats on one block for largely the same cuisine.

Zucca => Riley McDermott's => Bova Prime => Rare => Grille 401 => Tuscan Prime

Comment Policy Add Comment
Steve from Buffalo
Reply
Not to nitpick but since you're nitpicking a lot anyways -- a Roman cheese would not be the appropriate cheese for a pasta from Puglia. Rao's dish uses Pecorino instead of Canestrato but that doesn't mean it's proper for every dish using orecchiette. [ embarrassingly wrong rant removed ]
John
Reply
Untrue. By the way, if you go into an Italian Restaurant in Rome and ask for Parmesan Cheese the waiter usually looks at you sideways and mumbles in disgust..."Americano" or "Touristo"

If you ask for Pecorino they usually smile and nod knowingly. Any cheese that you like is ok, but it is definitely appropriate to ask for Pecorino with any pasta.
Administrator
Reply
My only point was that if you're going to spend $2M on a restaurant you can have a $12 chunk of cheese in the kitchen in case someone asks for it. Imagine going into a restaurant and they ask you if you'd like Parmesan, Pecorino or Grana Padano on your pasta? Maybe you could actually claim to be more "elevated" than Louie Bossi.
Administrator
Reply
First, rapini and sausage is a southern Italian dish, so lets not pretend that the shape of the pasta transforms it into something else. And Pecorino Romano comes from Sardinia, not Rome. It's the taste of Romano that pairs well with bitter rabe and the spicy sausage that makes it preferable for me; food should be assembled with ingredients that work well together regardless of where the dish originated. I'm not going to kill someone for putting parmesan on a pizza, but just don't put it on without asking me if I want it first. It doesn't belong there. I have both in my refrigerator and I like Pecorino on Rapini and Parmesan on Eggplant and Chicken Parm and I don't really care if it's right or wrong according to some guide to cuisines.

I criticized them for not HAVING Pecorino Romano, not that they used 1 cheese or another on a particular dish. People like what they like, and most haven't been to Italy nor care about the origin of the dish. A decent restaurant should have AT LEAST Parmesan and Romano cheese. So guests can get what they prefer. Pizzerias are only expected to have sawdust. A wedge of cheese will last months and costs a few dollars so it's not like some perishable item they have to worry about throwing away. And lets not pretend that just because the name is "Tuscan Prime" that this is Tuscan cuisine; there's nothing different here than any other Italian restaurant.
Administrator
Reply
They apparently give you 2 bills at happy hour; so that you can tip on the regular price rather than the happy hour price. Can they make it to April?
Linda
Reply
The service is ridiculous. Total amateurs.
Administrator
Reply
It's a downward spiral. Servers don't make money, so the good ones leave. They implement a policy like this that keeps people from coming back to happy hour. Bad servers, bad policies, fewer customers.
Administrator
Reply
Some comedy at Tuscan Prime; they've actually raised prices in the middle of the summer. They also separated the "happy meal" so you can get the $20 Burger separately from the Champagne.
Dave
Reply
Exactly right.
Administrator
Reply
So they have a 1/2 price bottle of wine deal and I check out the menu; there's a Barbaresco I wouldn't mind trying that's $102/bottle. Of course the deal only applies to bottles $99 and under.

Maybe someday someone will explain the common and ridiculous "cap" that restaurants put on the wine-down special. How many $100+ bottles of wine do you sell on these days? Don't you make more selling a $150 bottle at half price than a $47 bottle at half price? Mental midgets running the industry.
Administrator
Reply
We have the brunch menu.
Administrator
Reply
The plan to lunch here was aborted as there were 0 people visible inside or outside at 1:50pm.

Word is that the rent here is something like $40K/month so they're going to need to pick it up. Nothing like opening in May to guarantee yourself 5 months of pain to start off. The fancy people are gone.
Turtle
Reply
What is "B Angus USDA"?
Administrator
Reply
Probably Black Angus USDA. Which means it's supermarket beef. The $124 Porterhouse for 2 cracks me up. $50/lb for supermarket beef. Note that you can call any beef "Prime". A USDA Prime Porterhouse isn't worth that much.
Carmine
Reply
This location is cursed I am sure an Indian Burial ground is underneath..What is this the 7th restaurant to open at this spot in 13 years....I give it two years max...
Administrator
Reply
Did you ever use up your gift card from the ZUCCA incident?
Administrator
Reply
Now Open. We have the menus
Rick
Reply
Goodbye Yolo.

Next: Victoria Park Diner