Now open: One of Taylor Swift’s fave restaurants debuts in Fort Lauderdale; The Blind Monk in West Palm Beach is moving

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Campi at The Ray Hotel, Delray Beach

This new concept from restaurateur Curt Huegel opened in The Ray Hotel on Nov. 15, taking the space that formerly housed Ember Grill. Known for Manhattan’s Campagnola, Bill’s Townhouse, American Cut and Scarpetta, Huegel also has Avalon Steak & Seafood as well as Lulu’s Café & Cocktails in Delray Beach’s dining and entertainment enclave. “We’ve found a new culinary home here in Delray Beach, with this being our third restaurant we will open in the downtown area,” Huegel says. “Coming to The Ray Hotel was something of a no-brainer for us, as the property itself exudes that vibrant, beachy-yet-modern feel, a perfect fit for what Campi is.” 233 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach; 561-739-1700;

Saverio’s at Yacht Haven, Fort Lauderdale

Tucked away off Marina Mile at Yacht Haven Park and Marina on the New River is this new Neapolitan-style pie shop, which opened to the public Nov. 12. The pizzeria is an offshoot of owners Emily and Saverio Cataldo’s A & S Italian Pork Store on the Long Island hamlet of Massapequa, N.Y. The restaurant’s namesake is a certified Neapolitan pie-maker (from Italy’s Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani) who fires his 14 speciality pies at 600 degrees for three minutes in an imported Castelli oven. In addition to their signature margherita topped with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil, the menu features Alina (fried eggplant and ricotta) and Pinsa, a “gluten-friendly” variant made with a blend of soy, rice, sourdough and zero-wheat flour. 2323 W. State Road 84, Fort Lauderdale; 954-774-1090;

Carrot Express recently opened in Truist Place on Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale. (Rod Stafford Hagwood/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Rod Stafford Hagwood

Carrot Express recently opened in Truist Place on Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale. (Rod Stafford Hagwood/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Carrot Express, Fort Lauderdale

This South Florida-based, health-conscious eatery opened its 24th fast-casual location on Nov. 10 in Las Olas Square at Truist Place. The concept is known for a wide range of salads, bowls, wraps, pressed juices and smoothies. Best-sellers include: the LIV Wrap (grilled chicken breast, avocado, quinoa, kale, jack cheese and basil pesto); Green Goddess Salad (baby arugula, baby spinach, kale, alfalfa, avocado, cucumber and toasted pumpkin seeds); Paradise Acai Bowl (Brazilian acai topped with homemade granola, strawberries, blueberries, banana, pineapple and raw coconut flakes) and the Veggie Burger (made in-house with mushrooms, brown rice, onions, black beans and corn). Founded inside a gas station on Alton Road in South Beach by Mario Laufer back in 1993, there are now 22 locations in South Florida and three in New York City. Next up will be Hollywood sometime in early 2024, according to the company. 515 E. Las Olas Blvd., Suite 100, Fort Lauderdale; 954-440-7093; 

Ol’Days Farm To Table, Fort Lauderdale

This restaurant-cafe created in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by two sisters has blossomed into a U.S. mini-chain with outposts in Manhattan and Midtown Miami — and its latest debuted Nov. 27 on ritzy Las Olas Boulevard. Owners Martina and Juliana Fracchia fuel their 92-seat, breakfast-lunch cafe with caffeine and childhood recipes. These include Champ-Pancakes (oats, yogurt, mashed banana, coconut flakes, fruit and honey); a brioche Wagyu burger served with yuca; a Buddha Bowl with quinoa, adzuki beans, goji berries and cashews; and grass-fed short ribs atop a mound of mashed potatoes and broccolini. The owners source their coffee beans from Miami roaster María Esther Thome-López, and their all-day breakfast menu includes mimosas, bellinis and sangria. 200 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale;

Nativus, which offers a taste of Ecuador, is known for Yuca Cheese Bread and Tropical Yogurt Smoothies. The fast-food chain recently opened in The Mall at Wellington Green. (Nativus/Courtesy)


Nativus, which offers a taste of Ecuador, is known for Yuca Cheese Bread and Tropical Yogurt Smoothies. The fast-food chain recently opened in The Mall at Wellington Green. (Nativus/Courtesy)

Nativus, Wellington Green

The latest addition to The Mall at Wellington Green, this healthy fast-food chain is famous for its Yuca Cheese Bread and Tropical Yogurt Smoothies. The brand has strong Palm Beach County connections: There’s another location in West Palm Beach, and the whole concept started as a small project at the West Palm Beach GreenMarket in 2018. 10300 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Wellington; 561-201-2188; 

Aunt Jenn’s Tea & Spice Shop, Wilton Manors 

This tea emporium that began its life as a vendor at the Yellow Green Farmers Market has expanded into its second shop, debuting in early November on the northern end of The Drive. The cafe, registered to Jennifer Malone, offers organic and kosher-certified tea and spice blends, along with locally brewed kombucha on tap, seasonal lattes, honey-lavender matcha and something called Unicorn Poop Bubble Tea, a whimsical concoction made with strawberry herbal tea, strawberry bubbles, whipped cream and sprinkles. 2420 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors; 561-221-4737; 

HyperFocal: 0The chicken queso bowl from QDOBA Mexican Eats. The fast-casual restaurant based in San Diego, California has inked a franchise development deal to open 30 locations in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties over the next 10 years. User Upload Caption: The chicken queso bowl from QDOBA Mexican Eats. The fast-casual restaurant based in San Diego, California has inked a franchise development deal to open 30 locations in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties over the next 10 years.

QDOBA Mexican Eats

The chicken queso bowl from QDOBA Mexican Eats. The fast-casual restaurant based in San Diego, California has inked a franchise development deal to open 30 locations in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties over the next 10 years. (QDOBA Mexican Eats/Courtesy)

QDOBA Mexican Eats, Pembroke Pines

This fast-casual chain has ambitious plans for South Florida — 30 franchise locations coming to Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties over the next 10 years. There are more than 730 locations in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. But the South Florida franchise deal is the biggest for the brand known for its burritos, bowls, tacos and quesadillas with no artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup (except for the sodas), lard, partially-hydrogenated oil and added MSG. At the helm of the franchise expansion into SoFlo is Boca Raton snowbird Michael Guiffre. “QDOBA’s concept resonates with me on multiple levels,” Guiffre says. “The fresh, customizable menu aligns perfectly with my vision of providing a diverse range of high-quality options to the local community. I’m thrilled to bring QDOBA to Pembroke Pines and to more communities throughout Florida in the near future.” 16040 Pines Blvd., Unite P102, Pembroke Pines; 754-283-8282; 

The housemade tagliatelle is one of the dishes at the new Vitolo, which debuted Nov. 28 inside the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach. (Javier Hurtado for Vitolo / Courtesy)

(Javier Hurtado for Vitolo / Courtesy)

The housemade tagliatelle is one of the dishes at the new Vitolo, which debuted Nov. 28 inside the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach. (Javier Hurtado for Vitolo / Courtesy)

Vitolo, Fort Lauderdale

Attention, Swifties: The chef behind one of Taylor Swift’s reportedly favorite Manhattan restaurants, Emilio’s Ballato, opened his first namesake Italian restaurant inside the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach on Nov. 28. With chef Anthony Vitolo’s eponymous eatery comes an outsize reputation: His Soho restaurant is a celebrity magnet, courting the likes of Blake Lively, Sophie Turner, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Joe Jonas and President Barack Obama. That vibe — modernized New York-style red sauce joint — continues at Vitolo with dishes including linguini alle vongole and housemade tagliatelle with a 72-hour bolognese of beef, veal and pork ragu. “I’ve designed the menu with signature beloved classics that evoke a blend of nostalgia and innovation in a single dining experience,” Vitolo says in a statement, adding that his ingredients are sourced from a family farm in Sarno, Italy. There are entrees such as Vitello Antonio, a center-cut veal chop encrusted in Panko and covered in vodka sauce, sweet peas, prosciutto and mozzarella; a handful of pizzas; and the Sala Arco, a cocktail bar evoking Florida’s Art Deco age where liberations are crafted by mixologist Jarmel Doss. 551 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-414-5127;

The exterior of the new Livia Bar & Grill, which opened to the public in Fort Lauderdale's Flagler Village on Nov. 30. (Livia Bar & Grill / Courtesy)

(Livia Bar & Grill / Courtesy)

The exterior of the new Livia Bar & Grill, which opened to the public in Fort Lauderdale’s Flagler Village on Nov. 30. (Livia Bar & Grill / Courtesy)

Livia Bar & Grill, Fort Lauderdale

This Southern Italian restaurant soft-opened Nov. 30 in Fort Lauderdale’s Flagler Village nabe, on the ground floor of the Motif apartment midrise. The 150-seat Livia, which is registered to Daniel Mendoza, serves seven styles of Roman pizza (from spicy soppressata with orange fennel and hot honey to Adriatica with calamari, shrimp, bay scallops and lemon mint pesto), along with sandwiches, salads and entrees including grilled swordfish, fennel pollen-dusted pork chops and hanger steak. There are also flat-screen TVs mounted for sports games. 500 N. Andrews Ave., Unit 106, Fort Lauderdale; 954-306-3407;

Narbona, Boca Raton

Equal parts restaurant and market, Uruguay-based Narbona finally soft-opened in mid-November inside The Shops at Boca Center strip mall, about 2 1/2 years after project leader Santiago Balduzzi announced it was coming to South Florida. Narbona, which replaces the former Joseph’s Classic Market, features avocado toast and pancakes for breakfast as well as charcuterie boards, tapas, salads, sandwiches and Uruguayan-style pizza (thicker crust, sliced into squares), along with pastas, branzino and N.Y. strip steak. Its attached market offers wine, cheese, cold cuts, pastas, olive oils, preserves, jellies, coffees and teas from Narbona’s Uruguayan farms and warehouses. 5250 Town Center Circle, Boca Raton; 561-692-3933;

Fabio Trabocchi, a Michelin Star Chef, will open Fiolina Pasta House Boca Raton this fall.

Fabio Trabocchi Restaurants

Fabio Trabocchi, a Michelin Star and James Beard Award-winning chef, has opened Fiolina Pasta House in Boca Raton. (Fabio Trabocchi Restaurants/Courtesy)

Fiolina Pasta House, Boca Raton

James Beard Award-winning chef Fabio Trabocchi is now one of us. Not only has he opened Fiolina at Restaurant Row, but Trabocchi is also moving his family to Boca Raton, where he and his wife first met. Fiolina occupies the venue’s largest space at 7,000 square feet and, in addition to the main dining room, features a lounge, pasta room, show kitchen (with counter dining), private dining room, outdoor terrace and an open Mozzarella Bar Kitchen (with charcuterie station and wine room). The eatery opened on Nov. 16. “While memorable food and exceptional service will be the core draw, Fiolina Pasta House will be much, much more,” Trabocchi says. “It will be the place where you will always find a sense of community, and everyday life celebrations happen.” Trabocchi already has Fiola in Coral Gables, and his Washington, D.C.,-based restaurant group includes Del Mar and Sfoglina Pasta House. 5377 Town Center Road, No. 300, Boca Raton; 561-473-9400; 

Maggie McFly's Sriracha Burger.

Maggie McFly’s

Maggie McFly’s Sriracha Burger. (Maggie McFly’s/Courtesy)

Maggie McFly’s Local Craft Eatery & Bar, Boca Raton

We now have touchdown for this concept that flew into SoFlo out of Connecticut on Nov. 20. Celebrating its 30th anniversary with this first foray into Florida, Maggie MacFly’s did a total down-to-the-studs makeover of a space inside Town Center at Boca Raton mall (where Rex Baron once stood). The Maggie McFly’s menu has more than 180 items including burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, street foods (tacos, gyros, sliders), pastas, chicken dishes, salads, seafood, steaks and ribs, appetizers, snacks and desserts. “We will do seasonal specials that will be much more focused on Florida and Boca, more fresh fish,” says founder and owner Ray Harper, a snowbird in Palm Beach Gardens. The company also touts the use of locally sourced products, both in the kitchen and the bar. 6000 Glades Road, Boca Raton; 561-418-6688; 

Field of Greens, West Palm Beach

SoSo Cafe lasted a year in the city’s trendy SoSo (South of Southern) neighborhood before shuttering in April, but that casual healthy-eats spot now lives on in spirit with its replacement: Field of Greens. The new eatery, which used to be called Pixies on Dixie, is also health-focused and debuted on Oct. 30, according to its website. Not only has former SoSo chef Cesar Brea been rehired at Field of Greens, but the new restaurant carries a few of its predecessor’s dishes, including chicken empanadas and a Mediterranean salad bowl. Also on the menu: herb-marinated chicken sandwiches, acai bowls and chorizo tostadas for brunch. (Hess Musallet is the operator of three more Field of Greens mini-chains in Palm Beach, Wellington and North Palm Beach, with a fourth opening soon in downtown West Palm Beach.) 4802 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-429-5232;

Smith & Webster Restaurant and Bar, Coral Springs

The newish restaurant empire of Starex Smith, aka food influencer-blogger “The Hungry Black Man,” has grown by one with this soulful American restaurant that opened Nov. 18 in the Turtle Crossing plaza at State Road 7 and Wiles Road. This is Smith & Webster’s first outpost after its flagship arrived in North Miami in May 2022, and a partnership from Smith, retired Super Bowl champion Kayvon Webster and pro-basketball player Brandon Knight. (Smith and Knight also opened Southern eatery Brandon’s Bistro last March in Pembroke Pines.) The upscale sit-down, which replaces the Knight-owned Holy Hog Barbecue, serves entrees including Hawaiian-seasoned, bone-in ribeye; Cajun chicken pasta; braised oxtail lasagna with whipped lemon zest ricotta; 12-hour brined and smoked fire-grilled chicken wings; miso-glazed Scottish salmon; and Ethiopian-spiced branzino. 4372 N. State Road 7, Coral Springs;

Hallyu Korean BBQ & Bar, Tamarac

At 10,000 square feet, this massive all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue house, which opened in November in the University Commons plaza, offers 60 tables (with built-in burners) and two karaoke rooms. It joins an already bustling Korean restaurant row on University Drive, packed with grocery and barbecue joints such as Gabose, ROK and Manna Korean. Hallyu, registered to owner Ray Park, features barbecued proteins like bulgogi and pork belly, as well as kimchi jjigae (stew) and banchan (tiny side dishes). 6800 N. University Drive, Tamarac; 954-761-5227;

Emmy Squared Pizza, Fort Lauderdale

Sure, their first South Florida entry is perhaps late to the local Detroit-style trend, but this Brooklyn-born chain is hardly a shrine to just square pizza. The 98-seat pizzeria (70 indoor, 28 on the patio) in Victoria Park, which replaces the former Spatch Peri-Peri Chicken, also slings Grandma- and New York-style pies, half-pound hamburgers and craft cocktails, salads and spicy chicken sandwiches. Still, the bestseller at Emmy, which debuted Nov. 24, remains the Detroit-style, a focaccia-like pizza with lacy cheese crust fired in a rectangular tray. Other pies are named after Italian patron saints, including “The Sopranos” character Artie Bucco (garlic confit cloves, caramelized onions, basil) and late VH1 “Mob Wives” personality Big Ang (vodka sauce, ricotta, double pecorino, Italian sausage, banana peppers). Finally, there’s the Le Big Matt Burger, a half-pound double patty on a pretzel bun, plated with waffle-cut fries. A second location is planned in Coral Gables later this winter. 468 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; 754-296-0076;

A’Lu Mexican Cuisine, Boynton Beach

Richard Charleston and executive chef Wes Newson teamed up for this concept inspired by San Diego/Tijuana street tacos as well as the classic native cuisine of coastal Mexico. The grand opening was Nov. 24. With 82 seats inside and 116 outside, the restaurant overlooks Quantum Lakes. “Whether you are sitting inside or on the patio, your view is only that of a serene lake surrounded by trees,” says Charleston. “You easily forget that you are in South Florida and in the middle of Boynton Beach.” 1080 Gateway Blvd. (in the Quantum Town Center), Boynton Beach;

Luka Restaurant, Plantation

This Latin eatery started out in Doral in 2020 and is now expanding into Broward County with a second location that debuted Oct. 9. The owners, Catalina Henao and Luis Villegas, combined have more than 20 years of gastronomic experience. Their concept is a variety of Latin flavors that are part of the mix in South Florida. That means there are appetizers such as Luka Guacamole served with chicharrón and ripe plantain as well as grilled octopus tacos and Picanha tacos. The menu also includes arepas, cachapas, burgers, salads and a wide variety of grilled meats. There are also favorites such as the Lomo Saltado Bowl, the Paisa Bowl, the Latin Luka Burger (with grilled cheese, chicharrón, guacamole) and a recent addition, Fresh Fish Ceviche. 244 S. University Drive, Plantation; 754-223-5332; 

Raising Cane’s, Pompano Beach

This fast-expanding national chicken chain from Baton Rouge, La., specializes in one thing: hand-battered tenders in several combo specials, from its three-finger deal to the Caniac Combo (six tenders with crinkle-cut fries, coleslaw and Texas toast). The Pompano Beach location debuted Oct. 17, replacing the former steakhouse icon Bobby Rubino’s, and follows a blitz of spring and summer openings of outposts in Boynton Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Cutler Bay. 2501 N. Federal Highway, Pompano Beach; 754-260-3180;

Whit’s Frozen Custard, Lighthouse Point

This Ohio-spun emporium for rich frozen custard scooped out its first Broward County outpost on Oct. 27 under franchisee John Khoury, in a storefront on the corner of Federal Highway and Northeast 49th Street. The sweet shop, which already has locations in Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Wellington and Jupiter, serves its custard in cups, cake and waffle cones coated or blended with a choice of 40 toppings, and presents specialty flavors of the day, week and month, such as s’mores and white-chocolate caramel brownie. A future location is heading to Coral Springs. 4850 N. Federal Highway, Lighthouse Point; 954-531-6950;

Philadelphia-based bagel chain Bagels and Co. has opened in downtown Fort Lauderdale, south of the New River, specializing in coffee, breakfast sandwiches and 30 specialty flavors of cream cheese. (Rod Hagwood / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

(Rod Hagwood / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Philadelphia-based bagel chain Bagels and Co. has opened in downtown Fort Lauderdale, south of the New River, specializing in coffee, breakfast sandwiches and 30 specialty flavors of cream cheese. (Rod Stafford Hagwood / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Bagels & Co., Fort Lauderdale 

Philadelphia-based Glu Hospitality debuted the first of two Florida outposts of its bagel-centric breakfast chain on Oct. 20 in downtown Fort Lauderdale, replacing the revered neighborhood haunt Hardy Park Bistro. The cafe (which includes a patio) serves hot and iced coffees, lemonade, chai and matcha lattes, breakfast sandwiches as well as lunch sandwiches including turkey club and cheesesteak. There are also 17 bagel flavors and a raft of 30 specialty cream cheese flavors, from bacon-cheddar to birthday cake. 21 SW Seventh St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-652-1475;

Motown Pizza & Wings, Boynton Beach

Detroit Eats, owner Mark Tocco’s Detroit-style pizzeria that closed last year, has been reborn as Motown Pizza & Wings. The new pizzeria and sandwich shop opened in October, replacing a former Sbarro’s at a primo corner stall inside the Boynton Beach Mall’s food court. Motown, like its predecessor, specializes in Coney dogs, pastrami sandwiches and square, focaccia-like pies topped with blistering Wisconsin brick cheese and dollops of red tomato sauce. There are also chili-cheese fries, Angus beef burgers and salads. 801 N. Congress Ave., Boynton Beach; 561-336-4378, or search for them on Facebook 

The House, West Palm Beach

How much club can you handle? The answer is plenty at the House, a new seafood-driven kitchen where customers nosh on lobster club sandwiches on the patio while golfers swing clubs on the public green. The restaurant, which overlooks The Park, West Palm Beach’s revamped 192-acre municipal golf club, opened to the public in mid-October on city-owned land. Chef Jason Van Bomel (1000 North in Jupiter) is in charge of the menu, which features small and large plates, including spiny lobster corn dogs with Meyer lemon and Creole mustard aioli, clam and chorizo pizza, along with New York strip with red potato mash and chimichurri, crab cakes and a Florida snapper trio. 7301 Georgia Ave., West Palm Beach; 561-530-3791;


The Blind Monk, West Palm Beach

After warning customers for a year about a pending move, wine bar and hip tapas hotspot The Blind Monk closed its Evernia Street location after 13 years on Dec. 2, ahead of its imminent move to the chic AKA Hotel, also in vibey downtown West Palm Beach. (For now, that eight-story, extended-stay AKA is expected to open sometime in mid-December.) The Blind Monk first debuted in 2010 under the auspices of former U.S. Marine Capt. Ben Lubin, who’s also a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and a certified sommelier. The new location — triple the size of its OG perch on Evernia — lets Blind Monk leap from wine bar to bistro, and adds new covered terrace seating on the patio. The new menu, still not finalized, will begin with dinner, followed by breakfast and lunch next year. 410 Evernia Street, No. 107, West Palm Beach;

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