Scarfone’s Goes Southern with Big Rooster’s

By Michelle F. Solomon | Photography by Evelyn Robles

IMG_8892After 10 years of serving pizza, pasta and wings, Danny Scarfone has turned his popular Coral Springs restaurant, Scarfone’s, into a country-cooking, down-home, Southern-style restaurant. If it seems like he’s gone in an entirely different direction, it’s because he has. But that’s exactly what the chef and owner wanted to do with his newly opened Big Rooster’s Southern Table.

The family is involved in the business. Danny’s wife, Angie, and son, Danny Jr., 23, help run the restaurant; younger son, Carmine, 18, is off to Colgate University this fall to play football. Sure, Scarfone’s was known for making some of the best Italian food in Coral Springs, but, as Angie says, “There’s a pizza place on just about every corner here.”

IMG_8830The Parkland family had frequented Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, known in Miami Beach and Las Vegas for its fun vibe and dedication to the joys of country cooking. And since a Southern-infused menu would be unlike anything Parkland and Coral Springs had seen before, Scarfone says it was an idea waiting to happen. After eight months in the works, Scarfone’s has been fully transformed into Big Rooster’s Southern Table with an entirely new interior and a big, bold Southern menu. (No worries for loyal Scarfone’s fans; a Scarfone’s Express is located inside Big Rooster’s, offering a limited Italian to-go menu of wings, pizza and salad. There’s also a full-service Scarfone’s on Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors.)

As soon as we were seated, instead of presenting the usual restaurant bread basket, our waiter welcomed us with Big Rooster’s pork rinds made in house. To wash them down, our server suggested I try one of the craft cocktails, the Apple Butter Bramble, made with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, lime juice, maple syrup and apple butter jam and served in a Mason jar. It was buttery, of course, and comforting—reminiscent of a drink best-served at a fall festival or hayride.

Our table of three was encouraged to split a few small plates and shares for our appetizers. Loaded cornbread arrived in a black skillet. Most Southern skillet cornbread is traditionally cooked with lard, but this version is cooked with bacon, adding a savory flavor to the otherwise sweet dinner muffin.

Fried green tomatoes were presented with a pimento cheese spread, red tomatoes and a small crisp of apple-cider bacon. The coating on the tomatoes was panko-style, which ensured that they remained firm. But the must-try appetizer is the “Colossal” Southern pretzel, which arrives on a raised pizza stone (maybe a leftover from Scarfone’s, but inventive to say the least). The giant pretzel comes with a twist: sides for smearing and dipping, including homemade mustard, mashed potatoes, pulled pork and a deliciously creamy macaroni and cheese.

For the main dishes, one of my dining companions ordered the Fresh Apple Glazed Salmon, topped with caramelized apples and apple chutney. The other chose the Pretzel Crusted Chicken, a different approach to Southern fried chicken served with a homemade Dijon cream sauce. I opted for the baby back ribs, which were tender and juicy with barbecue sauce that was tangy, sweet and spicy all at once. 

The interior of Big Rooster’s is open and airy. Large booths have signature freestyle sayings written across the backs, which, along with an original mural, were created by brother-and-sister graphic artists Brittany and Brandon Hubschman, friends of the family who were classmates of Danny Jr.’s at American Heritage School. The saying that stuck out to me the most? “Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.”