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Fort Lauderdale Beach
What can be better than a seaside restaurant with an ocean view? Simply sophisticated fare with an Italian and Mediterranean focus such as chef Don Pintabona’s menu
By Jana Soeldner Danger
What can be better than a seaside restaurant with an ocean view? Simply sophisticated fare with an Italian and Mediterranean focus such as the menu at Trina on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Don Pintabona, who spent 13 years as executive chef at the Tribeca Grill in New York City and also worked under Charlie Palmer, designed Trina’s menu and remains a partner in the business.
Trina makes the most of its seaside location, with a wall of glass panels bringing the ocean view into the dining room. Those who prefer alfresco meals can choose a table on the long, island-style terrace. Inside, a sleek, urban-chic décor of blacks and grays accented by pristine white tablecloths is softened by a planked wood floor.
Light comes from cylinder fixtures hanging at varied angles from the ceiling, and a row of black leather banquettes separates the dining room from the theater kitchen. Background music is slow and romantic.
The separate lounge has a long bar and cozy tables for munching and sipping cocktails, including two house specialty drinks: the cubeltini, a refreshing mix of cucumbers, mint, syrup, vodka and lime juice, and the trinatini, a creative blend of vodka, mandarin napoleon, lavender syrup, pomegranate molasses, and grapes.
The extensive wine list – we counted 14 pages – is described according to region of origin and covers a wide range of vintages and prices. A wine collector seated at an adjacent table, however, had brought along a selection from his own cellar, which the waiter delivered to the table. Surprisingly, Trina does not charge a corkage fee like most fine restaurants do.
A breadbasket contained thin, crusty French slices, and a sweeter raisin variety, accompanied by olive oil and tasty hummus for dipping. Service at Trina is professional and solicitous without being overbearing
Not all of Trina’s starters are on the dinner menu – some appear only on the bar menu, so ask for one when you are seated – all the selections can be served in the dining room.
Delicious dates stuffed with walnuts and blue cheese, then wrapped in bacon ($12) were a wonderful combination of tastes and textures. The crunch of the nuts beautifully complemented the chewy sweetness of the dates and the sharp bite of the cheese, and the bacon was a perfect salty accent.
Almond soup ($8) was a creative variation of classic vichyssoise. The creamy chilled broth was light and refreshing, and the delicate flavor and crunch of slivered almonds made it distinctively delicious.
Instead of the usual ground beef, shredded, slow-braised lamb shanks and earthy wild mushrooms filled the crispy empanadas ($13). Pickled red onion and minted curry yogurt were nice foils for the rich filling.
Lump crab falafel ($13) was also good, but the accompanying chick pea and sesame seed hummus was too mild. Mediterranean-style baked shrimp ($15) was fresh, firm, and garlicky, accented with lemon and served with very crispy bread chips. The menu also offers half a dozen kinds of creatively-topped, brick-oven-baked flat breads ($14-$16).
Tagine-baked Florida grouper ($28) was a thick filet, cooked just right to bring out the mild, yet meaty flavor of this particular fish. Whitewater clams and almond couscous added taste and texture, and the delicate chermoula sauce, a vinaigrette made with tomatoes and cumin, complemented it all.
A 16-ounce rib eye steak ($39) was tender, perfectly cooked and robustly flavorful, accented with rich tempraillo wine sauce, and served with hearty potato puree.
Fresh blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries make the lemon sorbet that arrives after your entrée more than just a palate cleanser – it’s almost a dessert in itself. Warm chocolate cake ($11) was a fairly standard version, but almond ice cream, brandied cherries and warm Tootsie Rolls added whimsical contrast. A milk chocolate hazelnut crunch bar ($10) was a tasty combination of dark and white chocolate mousses and coffee ice cream served on a crispy pistachio macaroon. There’s also a varied selection of dessert wines and cognacs.
Trina offers fare that is sophisticated, yet simply prepared so complicated sauces and accouterments don’t interfere with the primary flavors of meat, fish and seafood. A beachside location with an ocean view is a bonus to a delightful dining experience.