Caffe Europa was once an icon on Las Olas; a friendly Italian cafe right in the center of the Las Olas Scene. Their large outdoor patio was perfect for people watching while having some coffee, lunch, dinner or a pizza. They re-opened Monday at 910 Las Olas Boulevard. And Oh what a place it is.
The modern furniture on the modest patio and the dual glass entry doors don't prepare you for what's inside. As you open the door, you realize that this isn't the old Cafe Europa with old pictures of New York and styrofoam statue of liberty images. Tony Cupelli, the long time owner of Cafe Europa, has truly outdone himself. Everything that was wrong with the old Cafe Europa is no more. The cramped bar, retail style display cases and TVs at un-viewable angles have been replaced by a large 16 seat black granite-look bar with a huge flat screen TV in the center, a well-lit display case up front that teases patrons with sugary goodies as they enter, and modern furniture reminiscent of a sleek, Italian cafe. The only thing remaining is the lawyer dude in the corner seat, jump-->as if he never left.
The dining room is adorned with large, modern artwork and sleek tables and chairs. The kitchen is partially open so you can see the chefs running around and doing their thing.
I went in after they'd been open about 2 weeks and the staff was completely different than before. I ordered an Eggplant Parmesan special which wasn't on the regular menu. It was completely different than it used to be: it was baked with layers of basil and didn't come with any pasta. I'd heard that they'd been through a few chefs, so I thought I'd try it again. The price was up to $13 for lunch, which is kinda steep for a lunch portion. I did get bread and olive oil dip so it was plenty of food.
This version was much better than the first: unbreaded with a slice of mozzarella; it also had a layer of ricotta cheese which I've never encountered before with eggplant. It was pretty good; it could have used a bit more sauce but overall It wasn't a bad dish.
On a previous visit I'd ordered up one of my favorite dishes, orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage.
It was a pretty good version. The original menu we have says "shaved garlic" but it wasn't shaved here. It could have been a bit more garlicky. $17 is a pretty high price for a lunch portion of this; they give you a lot of pasta but I'd prefer more rapini to the pasta.
Some of their old servers are back also; the crew that opened the place to widely bad reviews is largely gone now. Prices are up across the board, so it fits in with the other places on Las Olas. The food is better; and it's a pretty nice place.