Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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EatBeat: Downtown West Palm Hopping; Coming Soons Elsewhere include Rocco’s Tacos

March 16th, 2011 · No Comments

Downtown West Palm Beach is seeing a rebirth or at least a recharging of activity with some changes coming to the Clematis Street district. As the restaurants turn…

The big newcomer will be Duffy’s, a local chain sports bar and grill, going into the old Forte space, at Clematis and Olive Avenue. It’s a head-twisting switch. They’re changing the sexy SoBe design of Forte to the referee- and team-jock decor. They’ll add their trademark zillion TVs – and you can count on them being focused on the Marlins – they’re the official sports bar for the baseball team. Burgers and wings – other trademarks – will be churned out here. Curious to see what their well-known early bird dinner scene will be like on Clematis. Perhaps they should move it to 4-6 a.m. stead of p.m. for the after-club crowds.

Luigi’s (118 E. Clematis, 561-833-4456) is a new Italian brought to you by the folks who operate Cabana Neuvo Latino on the other end of Clematis. Luigi’s serves Southern Italian – Nonna’s meatballs, fra diavolos, Parmesans, pastas, and pizzas – among all the others everybody knows. They’re open for lunch and dinner.

The Blind Monk had its official “grand opening” this past week. Read my story about it when it originally opened, here.

Mambo Italiano has closed…Rumors are that a 24-hour diner will take its place. That could be a well-received addition to the street if the food is anywhere close to decent diner food.

Rocco’s expands to Broward; coming soon in the Gardens


Rocco Mangel wasn’t drinking – a first when we’ve seen him – during a recent meal at his new outpost of Rocco’s Tacos in Fort Lauderdale (1313 E. Las Olas Blvd.). He explained he’s on medications to prevent GI troubles when he arrives in Mexico in a couple weeks. He’s going to shop for furnishings for his new restaurant opening in Palm Beach Gardens this summer.

The Gardens Rocco’s, in the old Ouzo Blue location (5090 PGA Blvd., in PGA Commons), will be his biggest restaurant yet at 4,600 square feet. Mangel admits being a little nervous about this one – all the others are rocking into the wee hours in areas that draw tons of the younger crowds that favor his mix of solid Mexican fare, hot DJs nightly and his trademark tequila dance on the bar. The free shots he readily pours and bottles of tequila he awards to patrons don’t hurt, either.

But in the Gardens, he says he’s not as familiar with the crowds. He’s up against Cabo Flats and the Yard House at Downtown at the Gardens and another Mexican just down the block, Cantina Laredo in Midtown. Laredo is more family-friendly, however – and doesn’t go for the late-night swillers.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Mangel said, “but I love a challenge.”

He also has announced the plans for Cinco de Mayo – a way to get to all his restaurants, pour and drink with the crowds and have them follow him, without any jail time involved. “We’re doing a bus tour. We’ll sell tickets, and have a bar on board the bus, and go from Boca to Fort Lauderdale, to West Palm and back to Boca. It’s gonna be great,” he said. Tickets will be on sale soon; they’re limited. Contact one of the restaurants or go to the Rocco’s Tacos web site to find out more.

Tags: The Eat Beat: Restaurant News

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