Along the continuously growing and bustling beachfront properties of Ocean Avenue lies a restaurant that takes the best of the ocean and gives it an Italian flare, creating some truly delectable dishes. This new and completely renovated restaurant in the heart of Fort Lauderdale is none other than Coastal. A minimally inviting restaurant that’s bright, comfortable and most importantly, delicious.
Coastal is nestled right on the beach in the confines of the Atlantic Hotel. Through the lobby you see Coastal’s long, fully-stocked bar. I began the night with some Tuscan White Wine of Frescobaldi. It permeated with floral scents, sweet tastes of strawberries and mixed citrus and paired perfectly with some of the dinner’s heavy proteins and richer sauces. For our dinner we began with a variety of breads. Some were plain and some topped with mozzarella cheese, but both were heightened by a dipping in some Virgin Olive Oil with a vat of Elephant Garlic.
Our appetizers started with some Crab Arincini. These large and lightly fried rice balls were filled with jumbo lumped blue crab meat over a puttanesca sauce. Many times the crab is in the background behind a mass of over fried breadcrumbs and a wad of mayonnaise, but here the fresh crab meat took center stage.
When eating Italian, you’re almost always expecting the same taste over dressed Caesar Salad, yet at Coastal we were given a salad that was anything, but ordinary. It was a piled high Beet Salad of arugula with red and golden beets, crunchy pistachios, mounds of ricotta and an in-house citrus vinaigrette that was simply divine.
Next, was the star of the night, a tray with three huge traditional meatballs topped with made from scratch ricotta and tomato sauce dripped over it. You could honestly come here just for these three meat meatballs made with beef, veal and pork and leave happy. Atypical of many restaurant’s sauces that feature chunks of a heavy red sauce, Coastal’s sauce instead was light and had the sweetness of a San Marzano Sauce. Along with the Traditional Meatballs we sampled some Swordfish Meatballs. These were teamed with a light picatta with artichokes and capers. The Swordfish also had an aroma of cinnamon as you bit into it.
For my main course I choose the Lobster Milanese. Now, I’ve had Chicken Milanese and Veal Milanese before, but this was the first time I’d ever tried Lobster Milanese. Being a Milanese, it was battered and fried, but thankfully this Cold Water Lobster covered by an Arugula Salad, was still moist and flaky. I also tasted their Rigatoni Bolognese made with a beef, veal and pork sauce with some herbed ricotta. Like all the other sauces at Coastal, this was light and sweet and not that heavy. Highly mentioned too is their House-made Ricotta Gnocchi with Sicilian Pesto Cream and Toasted Pinenuts.
For dessert we were delighted by an array of different tastes and sugary goodness. They sent out a plate of assorted Cannolis and Italian Cookies. I tried the chocolate chip cannoli and the piped-in filling was spot on. Their Almond cookies with lemon zest were equally good and the Cranberry Biscotti’s were the perfectly paired for my late night cup of coffee. They also had Zeppoles, which are warm Italian donuts that came in a bag that you would shake to coat them with powered sugar. No dessert though could dethrone their magnificent slices of Tiramisu. It was layer upon layer of moist blissful endogenous.
Coastal Restaurant serves up three meals a day and has a huge Sunday Brunch Buffet with bottomless Mimosas and a carving station. This new restaurant in the Atlantic Hotel is right on the hub of everything and it’s food is beaconing you to check it out.