Michele’s Dining Lounge a very pretty, very elegant restaurant just like its namesake Michele Bonarigo. Michele’s is one of the new players to hit the Fort Lauderdale dining scene within the past two months. Ms. Bonarigo, wife, mother of two and successful entrepreneur is a hands-on owner who warmingly greats guests at the door welcoming them into her second home where she also conceptualized the design and décor of her restaurant. Aesthetic beauty aside, Ms. Bonarigo also collaborates in tandem with her Executive Chef, Farid Oualidi (formerly of Trina at the Atlantic Hotel) in creating and testing menu items.
A group of us were invited to have lunch at Michele’s last week. The menu is American classic with a contemporary spin offering items such as Grilled Caesar Salad, Foie Gras with housemade blackberry sauce, Harissa-style sautéed Mussels and Pan Seared Branzino infused with Mediterranean flavors. The wine list is predominantly California with nice choices of French and Italian wines. (click photos for an enlarged view)
Grilled Caesar Salad
Foie Gras atop toasted brioche with blackberry sauce
Pan seared Branzino
kalamata olives, teardrop tomatoes, capers served with a polenta gateau
grilled portobella, sauteed asparagus topped with creamy bleu cheese sauce
Michele’s serves dinner Tuesday-Sunday evenings with plans to open for lunch within the month. There is an intimate private dining room that seats 16 guests as well as the main dining room complete with supper club booths reminiscent of the golden era of Hollywood glamour. I do believe if you let yourself be transported just for a moment you quite possibly may feel the presence of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner or the entire Rat Pack as the nightly live music at Michele’s brings back the jazzy supper club era to Fort Lauderdale.
Happy Hour is Tuesday – Sunday nights from 5 to 7 pm offering half price cocktails and a $5 Bar Bites Menu. This is an affordable and relaxed way to get introduced to Michele’s. I went back Friday night for Happy Hour to immerse myself in the “Golden Era” complete with sipping vodka martinis. While I cannot say I was doing my best Ava Gardner channeling I can say that there was not a seat to be had in the lounge, the crooner at the keyboard was melodically wooing the crowd and Michele’s is exactly what they say it is, the upscale neighborhood restaurant; jacket and tie are not required but it was amazing to see how many people were coiffed to the nines, something that you really don’t see much of anymore. I’m wondering if Michele’s isn’t single handedly bringing back the beauty and excitement of going out to dinner once again…..
Michele’s Dining Lounge is located at 2761 East Oakland Park Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, on the NW corner at Bayview Drive. 954-533-1919