HOT TOMATOE STILL A GASTRONOMICAL DELIGHT
Article by Linda Kaufman Photos by Jon Frangipane
After more than fifteen years, Hot Tomatoe, the Italian Bistro in Deerfield Beach known for its freshly prepared and consistently good Italian food, has changed ownership. Elsa Addario, the dark-haired, engaging Italian woman has sold the business to Tony Bianco, an Italian businessman from Montreal.
Although Elsa is still involved with greeting and serving her loyal customers whose favorite dishes she is all too familiar with, and with whom she is on a first name basis, Tony has introduced some important changes.
Knowing fully well that Hot Tomatoe’s longevity in the restaurant business is due to Elsa and her brother, Chef Vincenzo, Tony has kept them on, but has favorably tweaked the menu and wine list. The 50-seat dining area now has re-upholstered chairs in a deep, crimson red, with dim lighting, an open black ceiling, and golden Florentine walls, decorated with artworks of the local artists. You will hear pleasant background music of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Chris Botti.
Having lived and traveled extensively from Europe to the Far East, Tony has cultivated a worldly knowledge and appreciation for fine food, aside from being a true Italian whose passion for food is inbred. As in many Italian families, he grew up with parents and grandparents who loved to cook and share their love through food and congregating as families around meals. His grandfather had his own farm in Italy and his parents used to make almost everything from scratch, including their tomato sauce and roasted peppers. In fact, his parents still jar their own tomatoes in Montreal.
With his collaboration with Chef Vincenzo, certain dishes that were offered only as specials have now become permanent menu items, such as the beautifully prepared wild salmon that is grilled and topped with roasted garlic and sundried tomato cream sauce. It’s always a treat to find wild salmon on a menu, especially for those who shy away from farm-raised salmon. Fortunately, the Osso Bucco ($33), the soft, fall-off-the-bone braised veal shank that melted in my mouth, was also added to the menu, permanently.
The Italian Antipasto ($18) we started with was enormous and absolutely divine. Served on a large, white platter, it included homemade mozzarella cheese that makes it almost impossible to return to store-bought mozzarellas, marinated eggplant that I could devour a whole platter of, as well as the freshly marinated mushrooms, homemade roasted red peppers, prosciutto di Parma, salami, capicollo, and artichokes.
The Prince Edward Island mussels, another appetizer that we tried, was in a delicious, light red sauce and was large enough for a party of two or more to share.
Although I am not a huge fan of cream sauce, the Penne Enzo ($17) that is penne pasta tossed with large, succulent shrimps, onions, and peas in a light cream sauce, was surprisingly good.
Now that I had ventured out of my usual longing for the Linguine with White Clam Sauce (which is fabulous here), I have opened up my horizons having discovered new dishes to order at Hot Tomatoe! You cannot possibly go wrong with my own daughter’s standard favorite, the Veal Parmigiana ($19), the tender veal that is layered with mozzarella, parmesan cheese and tomato sauce, and sprinkled with fresh basil. All pasta, chicken and veal entrees include a house salad and homemade bread. A side of pasta accompanies the meat entrees.
Another Italian specialty that Tony added, the Rack of Lamb ($38), brushed with Dijon mustard and coated with garlic, rosemary, pepper and homemade breadcrumbs, was perfectly cooked and very flavorful. All specialty entrees come with a choice of broccoli, broccoli rabe, escarole, spinach or small roasted potatoes. And I can assure you that the vegetables are superb here! I’ve been coming here for almost fifteen years, and I do understand why this restaurant has stayed in business so long!
The bottle of Chianti Reserva ($55) that we were served was deep and full-bodied, yet extremely smooth. There is an excellent Italian wine selection at Hot Tomatoe you can take advantage of on the first Tuesday of each month when they host a wine tasting with a fixed menu for a reasonable price. The sold out December event, was co-sponsored by Opici wines, and included homemade pappardelle pomodoro and rack of lamb, and featured several different selections of fine wine. They will also be including organic wines to their list soon.
No matter how much food I consume, one can’t pass up their homemade desserts. This night, we were served the warm, pumpkin bread pudding I am still dreaming of. Moist and delicious without being too sweet, the bread pudding is one of my favorite desserts here. Using fresh, seasonal ingredients, Chef Vincenzo makes pumpkin bread pudding only in the fall and winter. As mentioned in my past article on Hot Tomatoe, the fresh homemade pasta that they make daily is worth the visit. For those who have never tried it, you will find it difficult to go back to dried, packaged pasta!
For those value-conscious diners, there is an early dinner menu of Homemade Pasta, Chicken Marsala and Parmigiana, to name a few for only $13.95 that includes soup or salad, coffee, tea and dessert. Tony will also be creating a bar menu consisting of select appetizers for only $6 each that will include popular items, such as fried calamari, meatballs, mussels, and personal pizza, as well as half-priced house wine from 5 to 7pm.
Hot Tomatoe is open seven days a week for dinner. They do catering and host parties, as well. The address is 626 South Federal Highway, Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For reservations, please call (954) 480-6464. To visit their website, go to www.hottomatoe.com.
(THIS ARTICLE IS FOR PROMOTIONAL PURPOSE ONLY)