Where: 1307 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Made with Love: Executive chef Luigi Criscuolo and his wife, Angela Gullotta, natives of Italy, have brought their love of southern Italian cuisine to South Florida. Criscuolo seeks to offer his customers a healthy meal made with products imported from Italy that make for meals such as quinoa with sun-dried tomato and spinach. For her part, Gullotta runs the restaurant with skills she’s learned from running other establishments with her husband in Los Angeles and Florida.
Trip to Italy: Situated on bustling Las Olas Boulevard, Talento boasts modern décor with southern Italian flairs. The entrance features ceiling-to-floor windows and a waterfall display alongside a full bar. Venture further into the space, and a brightly lit refrigerated showcase decked with an array of fine Italian desserts like panna cotta and cannoli meets with a wood fire oven and an extensive wine cellar.
Only the best: Criscuolo makes each pizza and pasta dish from scratch each morning. He uses special flour imported from Italy, one ingredient among four to which he attributes the success of his dishes. The others include extra virgin olive oil from Tuscany, tomato sauce and cherry tomatoes from Naples and wagyu beef. “Our filet mignon is wagyu because it’s very flavorful and always tender, never chewy,” Criscuolo says.
Veggie Delights: Vegans and vegetarians can indulge in an extensive menu featuring everything from traditional minestrone soup to dairy-free Caesar salad with tofu. Among the vegan main courses, the rigatoni saporti features mushrooms, kale, zucchini and eggplant, while the tofu balls with spinach and almonds are breaded and baked to a golden brown.
Something different: Talento promises traditional food with a modern twist. Gullotta says she wants people to experience Italian food free from the stereotypical heavy and creamy textures associated with the cuisine in America. The bruschette al tartufo is a lighter take on the classic Italian appetizer sans tomatoes but brimming with rich extra virgin olive oil flavor. For the adventurous eater, Talento offers polpo alla griglia, a colossal Spanish octopus tentacle, and i due nemici, a squid ink linguine that Gullotto says is an unusual find in an Italian restaurant.