Ernie’s Italian Chophouse (Lighthouse Point)
The last time I checked–Jeff Eats had been in something like 260 different South Florida Italian restaurants. Math was never my strong suit, suffice it to say, that equates to a whole lot of pizzas, pastas, veal parms, eggplants, chicken cacciatores…Now nothing for nothing, the truth be told, the exact details about any-one particular “meal” is probably just a hazy memory.
Anyway…last night I gave 6 week old Ernie’s Italian Chophouse in Lighthouse Point a shot. By the way, I’m familar with Ernie’s location, in that over the years–it has housed several restaurants like Giulio Cesare Italiano Ristorante. The point I’m gonna make here, is that the “restaurant” that I knew, has been totally reconfigured-remodeled. Just so you know, when you walk into Ernie’s there is a separate bar area where you can eat–then walking a short corridor, there is a second room for dining with a pass-through window that allows you to watch the “chefs” work. The walls are white, there is a handful of “modern” scultpures on the walls, and both rooms have blue wall lights that give the joint an upscale South Beach look. From the decor, there is absolutely no tipoff as to the what type of food dominates the menu. For the record, Mrs. Jeff Eats and the couple we were with loved the decor—personally, I thought the lighting was too dark and the walls on the boring side—and since this blog is called Jeff Eats, I win! By the way, the joint’s website www.erniesitalianchophouse.com in addition to menu/prices has a few dining room photos, so you’ll see what the controversy is all about.
Now let me tell you about Ernie’s food.
The menu is not exactly huge, but there are enough appetizers, salads, pastas, Italian entrees, steaks/chops, desserts—so nobody is going to go home hungry.
At the top of this “review” I told you guys how I’ve been in so many Italian joints–that a haze has set in…well let me tell you, I will absolutely positively remember Ernie’s Italian Chophouse’s food. Let me make this as simple as I can, the chicken on-the-bone scarpariello that I “tried” was probably the best that I’ve ever eaten. Other entrees consummed- veal parmigiana, chicken milanase, broiled veal chop were absolutely top-notch—appetizers – meatballs, fried calamari were delicious and Caesar and fenel/beets/arguela salads were real good. For desserts, we stuffed our faces with in-house-made cannoli, flourless chocolate cake and cheesecake—I really enjoyed all three, but the cannoli and chocolate cake were worth the price of admission alone.
Let me sum the food up this way…this was one of the best Italian outings I have had in South Florida.
Now we- talk, prices and service. The prices aren’t neighborhood pizza joint prices—but surprisingly this “white table” cloth joint didn’t burn us. Now I’m just thumb nailing this–but maybe the whole shooting match was 7-8 bucks a head more than pizza joint fare. Trust me here, your favorite neighborhood pizza joint in a million years doesn’t come close to the goods that Ernie’s is turning out. On service–think competent “sports bar” folks and you got the picture. Just a thought, if Ernie’s makes fresh pasta daily, don’t you think that-should be used as a selling point? Or maybe that the salads and sides are big enough to feed two maybe even three people. Well I do! I will tell you- owner Ernie was all over the joint–visiting- from what I saw every table and trying his best to make sure that the kitchen and servers were doing shall we say…the right thing. Now, being a kind hearted soul, Jeff Eats is going to mix into the equation the fact that Ernie’s has only been open for something like 6 weeks.
By the way, for those of you who maybe wondering…yes, Ernie’s is located in a non-descript half empty South Florida strip center so parking was a snap.
I really enjoyed Ernie’s Italian Chophouse.
On a final note, every so often Jeff Eats finds a joint that has a shot at being a home run. Look, I’m not trying to tell Ernie what to do because I got no skin in this game… But, if you ask me…if he gets his service up to snuff and pipes in some tunes by guys like Frank Sinatra, Jerry Vale, Steve Lawrence and doo wop groups—The Duprees, The Passions and The Skyliners he’ll get a vibe going that will have the joint constantly packed.
Ernie’s is open Monday-Thursday 5:30pm-10:30pm, Friday-Saturday 5:30pm-11pm, Sunday 5pm-10pm.