After sitting empty for nearly 30 months since the emergence of the pandemic, longtime downtown Fort Lauderdale dining hot spot Timpano is scheduled to reopen on Aug. 25 after an extraordinary renovation that eliminates nearly every memory of the old space.
Remain calm — Timpano’s famed roasted mussels are back. But that is about the only thing you may recognize in the new space.
The 292-seat Las Olas Boulevard restaurant will return with a new name — the former Timpano Italian Chophouse is now Timpano Las Olas — an entirely new look, a new menu and a new vision orchestrated by Chef Michael Ferraro, as seen on “Beat Bobby Flay” and “Bar Rescue.”
Ferraro says the new menu strikes a balance between the simplicity of his father’s red sauce and the urbanity of a caviar service presented on Versace plates.
“It was designed to be as approachable as it is serious, and as classic as it is modern,” Ferraro says. “Our dishes are intended to highlight quality with the freshness of the ingredients as the star.”
A consistently rewarding local favorite on the downtown Fort Lauderdale dining scene since it opened in 1999 — its wood-plank floors, comfy booths, aproned waitstaff and a band’s jazzy vocals evoking an old-school, Sinatra-friendly joint — Timpano definitely was due for a refresh.
But owners at Orlando-based Tavistock Restaurant Collection, where Ferraro serves as vice president of food and beverage, have taken the space to an entirely new level of sleek, modern sophistication. The restaurant and the menu are designed to satisfy the appetites of the evolving Las Olas dining crowd, Ferraro says.
“South Florida is a sexy location, a little bit more edgy,” Ferraro says. “This one had to be a little bit more elevated. It’s absolutely stunning.”
Below is a look at what’s coming to Timpano Las Olas.
Before you get to the food or the drinks, you’ll be struck by its remarkable new design. If his recent renovation of Timpano Hyde Park in Tampa was a $1 million job, this one was more, Ferraro says. And it shows.
Clearly, this is not your parents’ Timpano: Out are the warm, stucco-colored walls, white tablecloths and grandma’s chandeliers; in is a sleek motif taking cues from Art Deco and the clubby speakeasy trend.
The dark color palette is deep emerald, aubergine and gold, with custom wallpaper depicting a Timpano Las Olas signature, the peacock. The dining room is accented by metal-chain curtains and artful chandeliers, both modern and a beautiful throwback to the Roaring Twenties.
“People are going to walk into Timpano Las Olas and say, ‘Wow.’ There’s not really much around Fort Lauderdale that is quite done to this level. You’ll see that as soon as you walk in the door,” Ferraro says.
A focal point of the dining room is an inviting lounge, which renderings of the space depict with a DJ in one corner.
The restaurant also includes a private wine tasting chamber, which can be reserved as a dining room capable of seating more than 20. The room includes temperature-controlled wine refrigerators and audiovisual amenities.
Another new feature of Timpano Las Olas will be Il Giardino, an outdoor patio with all-weather coverings. This space, positioned across the street from the energetic terrace at YOLO, will add to the bustle of the block, once considered a ghost town.
“We’re doing it in a different way,” says Ferraro, who expects the Timpano garden to exude a laidback warmth. “But the more the merrier. The more people on this end of Las Olas, the better for everyone.”
Timpano Las Olas is one of 15 restaurants that are part of Tavistock Restaurant Collection, including Abe & Louie’s in Boca Raton and Timpano Hyde Park, which reopened about a year ago, with Ferraro overseeing the project.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Ferraro came to Tavistock last year after a stint as corporate executive chef at Charlie Palmer Collective, with 17 restaurants from New York to Napa Valley. Prior to that, he spent more than a decade as co-owner and executive chef at the restaurant Delicatessen in New York.
On TV, he has served as a judge on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay,” a challenger to Chef Geoffrey Zakarian on “Iron Chef,” and as a culinary expert on Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue.”
The new menu at Timpano Las Olas was created by Ferraro, with help from Stuart Whitfield, Tavistock’s corporate pastry chef, and Omar Lorenzana, Timpano Las Olas executive chef. Lorenzana most recently served as executive chef at NoMo Kitchen in the boutique NoMo SoHo Hotel in lower Manhattan.
After more than two decades in the restaurant business in New York, Ferraro says he noticed a shift in dining habits, which accelerated during the pandemic, as restaurant operators gravitated to South Florida.
“There’s been a major shakeup in the past four years, even before COVID, where elevated food now permeates cities big or small in all areas of America,” he says. “There’s already great food in Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas, but to be one of the first to say, ‘Let’s raise the bar one more notch,’ it’s exciting.”
First things first: The roasted mussels are back. They are literally the only thing left from the old menu.
“The whole time I was doing this project, all I heard was, ‘What about the mussels?’ ” Ferraro says. “And I understand. They’re simple, a delicious snack, and it was their No. 1 seller. So it’s there. A nod to the past.”
Elsewhere, the menu goes into a completely new direction — Ferraro calls it “approachable Italian, but sophisticated” — that leans into his Italian-American upbringing, from his family red sauce recipe to his dad’s namesake Georgio’s Meatballs antipasti. The Italian-flour pasta will be handmade at the restaurant, and Timpano Las Olas will have an in-house baking and pastry program.
“The look of the dishes is very refined, crisp and clean. The plateware that we have is gorgeous,” Ferraro says.
Signature entrees include an 8-ounce Westholme Wagyu Hanger Steak from Queensland, Australia ($65), Tuna Saltimbocca ($38), and Veal Chop Parmesan ($58).
A two-person meal that Ferraro says has been very popular in Tampa is the Parm-to-Table Experience called Uni Alfredo, with housemade fettucine, pecorino Romano and uni (sea urchin roe) for $65. A popular side is Timpano’s branded Kaviari Siberian Caviar ($45 for 14 grams).
Also prepared for two: a 32-ounce tomahawk steak with fennel pollen, charred lemon, roasted garlic and rosemary ($155); and a 48-ounce porterhouse cut ($175).
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Along with the mussels (on the menu called Old School Roasted Mussels; $17), the appetizers include his father’s Georgio’s Meatballs with ricotta and red sauce ($15), and semolina-dusted fried calamari ($18). The pasta menu includes housemade cavatelli with rapini, Italian sausage, chiles and pecorino ($25); and bucatini al pesto, prepared tableside from a giant Parmesan wheel ($25).
The plan is for Timpano Las Olas to debut with a dinner menu at first, with lunch and bench options to follow in subsequent weeks.
The wine and beverage program was developed by General Manager Mark Molina, a certified sommelier who comes to the job after stints as general manager at upscale steakhouses in suburban Boston (Coach Grill) and downtown Chicago (ZED451), and Drew Romanos, the front of house manager, formerly of Abe & Louie’s Boston.
Cocktail highlights include the Pecan & Pancetta Smoked Old Fashioned, smoked tableside with Basil Hayden bourbon, Angostura bitters and pecan-pancetta bacon, as well as Timpano’s signature espresso martini and frozen blood-orange Negroni.
The wine list, both by the glass and bottle, is thoughtful and expansive. There are hundreds of bottles from across the globe, among them a smart selection of Spanish reds, including representation from Scala Dei ($84) and Alvaro Palacios ($120) in the Priorat region.
Timpano Las Olas is at 450 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Visit TimpanoLasOlas.com.