Chef Mennan Tekeli has his finger on classic Italian dishes, updated just enough to keep diners both comfortable and interested. The former corporate chef for Prezzo, Dennis Max’s group of Italian restaurants, brings pasta and pizza to Ovenella in Boca Raton.
Owner Ferraretto Davila explained through his publicist he wanted to give diners a “night-out” experience and still give them a casual-comfort menu to satisfy any mood.
Familial dishes such as arancini (rice balls) with fresh marinara and a pesto-olive oil sauce, or a plate of escarole and beans are served in share-worthy portions. Lasagna vedura, filled with vegetables, is both light and ample; for hearty eaters, there’s a peppercorn and espresso-crusted beef tenderloin.
Pizzas are artisan style – made with “double 0” flour preferred by top pizza makers. Fresh sauces, handmade mozzarella and fresh toppings are added to the wood-fired pies.
Sommelier Coleman Leitch, who’s worked in beverage management for notable chefs Norman Van Aken and Gordon Ramsey, brings fresh tastes to the center-stage bar. No bottled mixers are used; instead, all fruit juices, herb mixes and infusions are created in-house. A summer signature drink is the refreshing Cucumber Mint Martini. The quirky drink – everyone has one – is the Bacon Maple Old Fashioned.
Vintage drinks and the revival of gin, rum, rye and scotch instead of vodka as the starring alcohol are notable here. Leitch explains this is taking place in New York City, heart of mixology trends in the U.S.
- 499 S. Federal Highway, Boca Raton
- 561-395-1455; ovenella.com
- Open daily from 11 a.m. for lunch, happy hour and dinner.