In an area with no shortage of Italian restaurants, the best on the island is Trattoria Dario.
For the past couple of years, the chef presiding over this South Beach bistro’s kitchen has been Chet Perrotti, whose forte has long been Italian dishes.
But while some restaurants are very much a creature of their chef, the man who keeps Trattoria Dario near the top of the island’s food pyramid is its omnipresent proprietor, Dario Bordoli. This restaurant is his baby.
On two visits this past month, the charming Bordoli was, as usual, at the front door to greet us. Both times, the pleasant fall weather enabled us to dine outside on the enclosed seaside patio.
One of the major things going for Trattori Dario is that Bordoli has two of the area’s great servers – Bernardo, who has been taking care of Vero diners for years, and the extremely knowledgeable Tyler.
On a visit in early November, no sooner had we placed our wine order when Tyler brought us a basket of hot bread out of the oven and a dish of olive oil and herbs.
For starters, we split a grilled Caesar salad ($14). This is one of the best salads around, the grilled romaine heart topped with roasted peppers, delicious white anchovies and shaved parmesan cheese with, of course, a Caesar dressing. An excellent start.
Then at Tyler’s recommendation, I decided to try the fresh pompano ($39) and my husband opted for the grilled veal chop ($49).
My pompano was a great dish, perfectly sautéed in a white wine lemon garlic sauce and served with baby heirloom tomatoes and jumbo lump crab meat, accompanied by asparagus.
But my husband’s veal chop was to die for – a beautiful first bone veal chop topped with a porcini mushroom truffle sauce, and served with whipped potatoes and a veggie.
The veal chop with those wonderful porcinis was so good, in fact, that I became obsessed with having one, so we returned 10 days later, this time with a guest.
Again, we started with the grilled Caesar, and as planned, I ordered the veal chop. Our guest chose the lobster ravioli ($32) and this time my husband opted for the slow braised truffle short rib ($32) served over parmesan risotto and topped with a Borolo red wine truffle demiglaze.
My veal chop was very good, though I thought my husband had scored more of those magical porcinis (I just love those). I guess I should be content with very good, but the previous time was perfection.
This time, however, the big winner was our guest – who said his homemade ravioli had wonderful chunks of lobster amid the ricotta and parmesan cheese. He also gave high marks to the light pink sauce with fresh gulf shrimp that topped the dish.
For dessert on this visit, our guest enjoyed a crème brulee ($10) and my husband and I shared a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate fondant ($9). We then finished with double espressos.
Over the years, Trattoria Dario has become a favorite of many island residents. The combination of a top chef, excellent servers, and a proprietor who cares makes it easy to understand why.
I welcome your comments, and encourage you to send feedback to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The reviewer is a beachside resident who dines anonymously at restaurants at the expense of Vero Beach 32963.
- Hours: Daily 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Beverages: Full Bar
- Address: 1555 Ocean Drive, Vero Beach
- Phone: 772-231-1818