I hadn't been to a D'Angelo's restaurant since he's become a mini-chain; opening restaurants in Delray and Weston and another coming soon to Western Boca. I came here twice when they first opened; I got some cold eggplant on my first visit and some unimpressive fare on my second. I came to the conclusion that fast Italian food doesn't quite cut it; precook and re-heat didn't result in a quality outcome.
I never got a chance to try the pizza; Piero was making pizzas here when they first opened, but he left to re-open Pomodoro. I didn't want pizza today either.
I arrived shortly after 2pm; there was 1 other car in the lot. They've obtained the lot next door, but it's still valet only. jump-->
Inside, the hostess was on a break, so I got the old "Sit whereever you like" from a dude behind the counter. I took some bench seating in the middle of the room. There are no booths.
D'Angelos Pizza and Tapas Interior
The format of the place is sort of an italian cafe, there's a long counter with display cases, a wood-fired oven and some counter seating. They have a couple of TVs but you don't come here to watch a game. All in all, it's a handsome place.
D'Angelos Pizza and Tapas Interior
The menu is largely the same as it was when they opened; they used to have an image of the actual menu on their web site but now they've gone to the menu with no prices. That's what happens when you become a chain.
I ordered an iced tea and looked over the menu; I ended up ordering octopus carpaccio and eggplant parmesan, to see if they did a better job than the last time I got it. They brought out some bread in a fancy basket, and a standard olive oil balsamic setup. Another plain oil dip venue. These places should have shakers with dip spices on the table. Even Carrabba's gives you a decent dip.>
D'Angelos Pizza and Tapas Bread
The bread probably would have been better if it wasn't partially toasted. The Octopus came out immediately, so I didn't have too much time to consume carbs.
D'Angelo Pizza and Tapas Octopus Carpaccio
The octopus itself was virtually flavorless. It had no flavor at all, as if they sliced chilled, boiled octopus and just drizzled some olive oil on it without marinating it; no lemon vinaigrette; no seasoning. A good source of protein. But wholly disappointing. I'd expect this at Big City Tavern, but not here.
They waited until i was done to deliver the eggplant; this time it was hot and cooked through.
D'Angelo Pizza and Tapas Eggplant Parm
The sauce was delicious; very sweet, but the eggplant was mushy; either overcooked or defrosted. Still better than most places in town, but not stellar either.
As I asked for my check with my iced tea glass bone dry, no offer of a refill was ever made. That cost my server a buck. Other than that, service was fine.
As I went out to the valet I saw my car literally 8 feet from the valet stand. Did I really have to tip him $2. for this? When the new lot opens they could help their business by offering self-parking. This was just stupid.
3 years later and my impression, and rating, is exactly the same. Nice place but the food is 'eh'.
Review From 5/3/10
I wasn't quite sure what to expect, and I have to admit I was surprised. From the outside, this place looks very small. Its a bit of a surprise when you walk in.
The place is much larger than it looks; its rather deep and somewhat narrow. On one side there a long counter with seating on either end, with a display and the registers in between. The tables and chairs are modern euro; the counter is a smooth white ceramic. Behind the counters are a big blackboard with the specials, wine and beer taps (Peroni, Bass, Stella and Amstel Light on tap). >
D'Angelos Pizza and Tapas Interior
In the rear the counter wraps and there's glass where you can watch the chefs do their thing. They also have an outdoor patio with couches in the corner for "hanging out".
The menu is numbered like a chinese place; you can just give your server the numbers of the items you want. When you arrive the menu is on the table like a place mat, with food items jump-->on one side and wines on the other. They have a fairly extensive wine list; however no Chianti Riservas, Baby Brunellos or Barbarescos by the glass. I settled for a Quercerto Chianti Classico at the fair price of $9. But don't expect an overpour.
The menu features "Tapas", salads, sandwiches and pizza. The Tapas are really just smaller portions of familiar Italian favorites and cheese plates. They have a regular pizza and "White" pizza menu; all italian style. The pizzas are small, about 10" and they're priced from $9. They have a few specials per day; usually chicken milanese or chicken parmesan is one of them. They don't tell you how much the specials are, or whether they are tapas sized or full meals, which they really should do considering the composition of the menu. Ask questions. The chicken milanese, as most of the menu, is pre-made, so you can't get it as chicken parm, but they will drop some sauce on the side if you ask for it. The good news is that the food comes out quickly.
On my first visit I ordered the eggplant parmesan tapa, which is a 2" x 4" rectangle cut from a loaf. The eggplant was good and the sauce is excellent, but it was on the cold side. They put a piece of fresh mozzarella and melt it, but apparently they didn't have the timing down yet to properly warm the pre-made loaf. Its a pretty small portion, and not the best eggplant parm in town, so I won't be trying it again.
On another visit we sampled the sausage with escarole and white beans, which can also be ordered with brocolli rabe. The escarole was very good and it comes in a pretty good sized portion with a big sausage. The sausage was obviously pre-made and reheated, so it lacked the fattiness that gives sausage its decadent taste. It's probably healthier well done; but its not as good as it could be.
We also tried the Bruschetta Basilico, which is slices of bread topped with fresh tomatos, mozzarella and basil. While the presentation was beautiful, the execution was very poor.
The topping was bland; there was no expected taste of fruity olive oil, balsamic or anything else. The bread was just sliced bread; not toasted, not brushed with olive oil or rubbed with garlic. I ate 1/2 piece normally, and then scraped off the toppings of the rest and settled for a tomato/mozzarella salad. A disappointment to say the least. Chicken milanese was good but again, the reheated cutlet wasn't as good as if it was freshly prepared.
On a positive note, our server was excellent, although he did seem to "push" some items by mentioning how "fantastic" it is. I overheard some other waiters with the same narrative, so its likely it was more contrived than genuine.
My overall impression is that that this is a very nice place with a solid menu. The concept of "small plates" is a good one, however when everything is pre-made and re-heated it loses much of its appeal. The result is that many dishes disappoint. They could improve their wine by the glass offerings with some better known, higher end choices; most of their by the glass selections are multi-grape blends, and I generally opt to avoid the unknown, particularly at the higher end.
The forced valet is a bit of a pain, as you have to wait regardless of how close your car is parked. When dining with a larger party, you may have to wait quite a while for all of the cars to be retrieved. And they don't take reservations, so I'm not sure how they handle a busy weekend. There's nothing more fun than having a bunch of people valet and then find out there's nowhere to sit or stand for a long period of time.