Ernie’s Italian Chophouse
3150 N. Federal Hwy.
Lighthouse Point, Fl 33064
Photographed & Reviewed by: J. Oliver
Ernie’s Italian Chophouse is a culinary concept whose time has come. This sleek, new eatery offers everything that Italian restaurants, and for that matter most restaurants, are missing today. Great food, beautiful surroundings and excellent service. Now isn’t that what we all go out to dinner for in the first place? At Ernie’s they understand that dining out is supposed to be entertainment, and it really is a lot of fun coming here for dinner.
Opened in January 2012, the brain-child of owner Ernest J. Patti has sprung to life under the early tutelage of South Florida restaurant consultant Tom House, and incredibly talented Executive Chef, Gary Wood. Chef Gary is the driving culinary force behind the excellent menu and nightly specials to this day. Ernie himself was very successful in the nightclub industry here in South Florida 20 years ago. Today he is a dedicated restaurant owner who is clearly destined for even more success in the hospitality business with his namesake, flagship restaurant.
One of the most interesting and delicious menus awaits the Italian food aficionado. The well thought out wine list makes you want to drink and explore the different high and low end wines offered, and they all are priced to sell! Ernie is a very hands-on owner, who spends a lot of time working with Chef Wood in the kitchen to make sure both of their extremely high standards in food are maintained. Don’t be surprised if you come in for Sunday Gravy, and see Ernie in the kitchen stirring a few pots of sauce and cooking the ribs and sausage himself. His positive energy is contagious and his food outrageous.
Sunday Gravy is an incredible deal for $30.00, and you may add a glass of good Chianti for $37.00. A large bowl of Paccheri pasta is also included with homemade San Marzano tomato sauce. What an incredible deal! I’ll be there Sunday for sure…what about you?
We arrived with a reservation on a busy Friday night, and were ushered to our seat with no waiting. Within seconds our smiling server was upon us, taking our drink order and making sure we were comfortable. We could see the open kitchen and smell the good food cooking from where we were sat, further tantalizing our appetites. Based on some recommendations we read on line and the suggestions of our server, we ordered some meatballs and Gnocchi for the table right away.
The menu choices are wonderful, and Chef Gary Wood never disappoints with specials of the day either, including today’s choice of fresh Grouper over white bean ragout. I enjoyed every last, white flaky morsel to the fullest. The elegant ragout was enhanced with garlic, Chorizo, oregano, and the fish was topped with a fennel salad and lime dressing. My guests really enjoyed the superb Beef Carpaccio, topped with garlic aioli and an herb and arugula salad. The meatballs at Ernie’s are the best I have ever had…and I am Italian! First of all they are 100% veal, making them light and airy! (see picture) I’ve tried to get the recipe, but no one there wants to give it up. The flavor is amazing, and an order consists of two big meatballs served over a mixed green salad and a generous scoop of creamy ricotta cheese. This is plate licking good food!
Fresh Florida Cobia was also offered as a special, served over mashed parsnips, a grape tomato and olive chutney, finished with orange vino cotto. Ernie’s is so much more than just another Italian restaurant. I like to call it an Italian-style steakhouse, where cutting-edge gastronomy is a nightly occurrence. You can have the traditional dishes that Grandma used to make, or incredibly modern meals you’d expect to find in the best New York City restaurants. The Grilled Octopus imported from Spain is a home run. It is served with cannellini beans, baby arugula and warm limoncello vinaigrette…truly delicious. Since this dish made an appearance on the front page of The Sun Sentinel’s Food Section, it is one of the most popular dishes on the menu and in South Florida too.
The Chicken Scarpariello for Two made with Crispy Whole Free Range Chicken (On the Bone), Cut Up and Served with Sweet Italian Sausage and Peppers (Hot Peppers on request) is outrageous. The chicken is crispy outside and moist inside, combined with perfectly balanced sweet and savory flavors make this dish worth returning for again and again. Chef Gary Wood is well seasoned and has the training and experience to carry this Italian-style steakhouse to the Promised Land. The list of where he has worked and what he has done is another story in itself. Gary will tell you his mentor is Celebrity Chef Nick Morfogen from 32 East in Delray, and that is some serious pedigree.
Dinner is served daily, and happy hour Monday – Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 pm is very popular too. Meatball Happy Hour at Ernie’s is on Thursdays from 4:30 p.m – 6:30 PM. Ernie’s delicious meatballs are free at the bar and you can enjoy half off well, wine, and specialty cocktails too! They even offer a different featured vodka every week that you can make into a $5.00 martini! What are you waiting for? Forget about the strip mall location because once you are inside you are transported by the one of kind window treatments, cool music, sexy blue lighting and modern metal sculptures on the walls.
Desserts are great! A must have is the Frozen Limoncello…so refreshing and cool. The awesome Cannoli goes so well with an espresso or cappucino, and Chocolate Mousse is first class too. New York Style or Ricotta Cheesecake and fresh fruit when available.
Are you are tired of driving around aimlessly searching for a great place to eat? Had enough of Italian restaurants and steakhouses that serve disappointing food? If you haven’t already, it’s definitely time you discovered Ernie’s. Find out what all the excitement is about. Taste the food and feel the vibe for yourself at Ernie’s Italian Chophouse. Make sure you tell them that DinnerReviews.com© sent you. It’s so good you can’t fuggheddaboutit!
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