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Louie Bossi Las Olas

Louie Bossi's Ristorante Bar Pizzeria

1032 E Las Olas Blvd
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33301
(954) 356-6699
Overall Rating
1.7
Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Last Review
10/31/2015

Details

Hours: 11am-2am 7 Days
Attire: Casual
Parking: Street Metered. Lot behind Restaurant
CC: Yes
Alcohol: Full Bar
Outside Dining: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Happy Hour: 4-7pm $2 off drinks and 1/2 price pizza

Pros

Expansive Restaurant with a Large Bar
Covered Outdoor Space

Cons

Absurdly Expensive
Why am I paying Extra for Louie Bossi?
Bad Restaurant Experience from Hostess to Check
Dumbed-Down Menu with Hardly Any Meat or Fish

Insider Tips

Happy hour is only at the bar, so get your first drink there to get the discount.

Critic's Review

The Saturday Brunch tour continues; this week it's Louie Bossi's. I've wanted to come down for happy hour to get a pizza, but I never seem to want to go out at 6pm. I also don't like mixing it up with the new-fangled brunch crowd, which have morphed from little old ladies in Easter bonnets to busboy cretins with pastel colored sunglasses.

I walk in at 11:15; there's 2 people at the bar, the restaurant is empty and there's 1 group doing a birthday thing out on the patio. "1 outside please". "What", she says. "Table for 1". "Do you want to sit at the bar?". Why would I be at the hostess stand if I wanted to sit at the bar, you pea-brained idiot?

I don't mind eating dinner at a bar when there's a game on, but not for brunch, with a bunch of drunk fools.

Louie Bossi's Patio Bar (taken on my way out)

The patio is pretty nice with a permanent cover. Of course with 250 seats available, they have to put me at the smallest possible table. Why? Because this place is run by a bunch of assholes. Normally I'd ask for something else, but the booths are pretty uncomfortable. I'd make due.

Then I discovered that these cool wooden tables weren't flat, they sloped down. Great, so maybe my $2000 camera would slide off onto the floor.

Louie Bossi's Patio

They gave me a drink and a brunch menu; I'd already decided what I wanted but I wanted to let them go through the motions. After a few minutes a dude sauntered over with a bottle of water and a glass with no ice. I'm shaking my head inside; they're still serving water on an 82 degree patio with no ice? I still can't figure out if it's some sort of scheme to get you to order something else, or if they're just really, really stupid? Could be either.

The server "explained" the brunch, the $12 all you can drink, and told me about the pastry of the day. No substantive specials. I asked for coffee and some ice for the water, and told him I need a minute to decide what I was having.

Coffee comes in a good sized cup; cream in a little pitcher with no handle. Personally, I prefer a handle. Initially, he forgot the ice. I had to remind him.

Louie Bossi's Water and Coffee Service

Brunch requires eggs, so I was going to give the porchetta another chance; Porchetta hash, just $14.50. I ordered the eggs over-easy instead of sunny side. For some reason I was thinking about the

tasteless pork hash
I had at YOLO years ago, before I knew how bad the food there was.

Music is pretty disco-ey, as I waited a couple of girls came in with a dog, which is part of the outside dining experience these days.

Dining with Dogs at Louie Bossi's

The dog was fine, but the woman got up and got a water glass from another table and put it down for the dog; somehow the idea that dogs may have been drinking out of my water glass is a bit unsettling.

Runners bring out the food here, because the waiters are too slow to both take orders and bring you your food.

Louie Bossi's Porchetta Hash

Really? This looked like something I'd get in a diner for $6.95. I mean this IS a restaurant, at least the YOLO presentation made it look like a decent amount of food. The cheese on the amateurishly prepared eggs was just a cherry on top. No bread with breakfast at Bossi's, because for $14.50 you don't get any toast. The eggs were over medium-well, but I've come to expect that in this culinary wasteland that is Fort Lauderdale. You know that they have the cheapest possible chef in the kitchen here.

I always think of hash as being a finer dice than this; this was sliced meat with halved potatoes. Luckily I had a knife so I could turn it into a real hash.

Louie Bossi's Porchetta "Hash"

This is not hash; this is a mess.

The potatoes were unseasoned and the porchetta was just as bland as the stuff I had the last time. If this was a real hash they could have tossed this in some garlicky oil and it would have been good, but good tasting food is not on the menu at Louie Bossi's or any other Big Time restaurant.

Louis Bossi's Porchetta Hash

My cup was 4/5 empty and my server walked by twice without offering anything, so I decided to run a test. I finished it and put down the empty cup and waited for him to walk by again. Once again he walked by without saying anything. When I was sure he wasn't going to offer me a refill, I got his attention and asked him for more. "Oh, of course, I'll get you a fresh cup". My suspicion is that the servers here are under orders not to offer refills unless you ask for it. Same as with the bread.

Conclusion

There's nothing new here at Bossi's; it's as predictably bad as it was before they ripped Solita. From the bad hostesses to the ignored empty coffee cup, Bossi's reeks of Corporate Greed. A little plate with no bread, 2 diner quality eggs for $14.50. Why is this brunch?

You can read the rest of the reviews; there's nothing new to report here. I got this place exactly right on day 1.

Review 6/11/15

Time to try Louie Bossi's. I wandered down over the weekend to check it out, but I didn't want to eat on their 2nd day open. Too much chaos the first few days; particularly with a place this size. If you've been under a rock, this place is brought to us by the owners of Big City Tavern and part owners of Rocco's Tacos. For the gory details read the stuff after this review.

Rather than go for Dinner at the bar, I figured I'd go for lunch. I think their lunch menu is particularly bad, with few good choices and virtually no non-pasta entrees. Bossi's nickname is the Hogfather, and he seems smitten with his Porchetta, and you can only get it at dinner "family style" for 2 minimum. At lunch they have a $15 "Boss" Panini and also as a porchetta appetizer. The plan was to get one of those.

I'd never really checked the parking at Solita; the few times I was there I went on foot as they were never opened for lunch. I thought that *maybe* they had a free lot. There is a big lot, but your choices are valet or metered parking; nothing for free.

Louie Bossi's Parking

I swung around and parked right in front of the restaurant, which was more convenient.

I walked into a largely empty restaurant and was seated at a small table on a window. The first thing I noticed is that the table outside was butted against the window also; I think it would be uncomfortable to have people sitting there and be 4" away from them with glass in between. Luckily nobody sat at the table while I was here.

Louie Bossi's View

They start off trying to justify their pricing by telling you all about their scratch kitchen, which is great if you have kitchen staff that knows how to cook. How many times have I heard that in this town? They bring a complementary bottle of Vero water. which was surprising since many places charge $1 for it. However the water is warm and no ice is provided. What's strange is that they don't make the sparkling available at all; I asked about it, thinking I might have to pay $1 or 2, but they won't serve it. She did offer me a Pelligrino; Sure, I know that trick. Plain warm water doesn't cut it, so I ordered an iced tea.

Louie Bossi Beverages

She brought the tea with no sweeteners; I reminded her that I would need those. Very cheap with the lemon; at Big City they brought me a whole lemon.

I asked about the specials, but they don't have any. Just a soup of the day, which she said was sausage with white bean. The regular Paninis come with the 'salad of the day', which today was a pasta salad. Sorry but pasta salad is not a salad. I asked about the porchetta "Piccolo Panini" (which means small sandwich); I wanted to make sure that it wasn't like 1 slider for $10. She said it was 4 sandwiches and that it was "about the same size as the big sandwich without the extras". Ok, so I decided on the small sandwich ($10) and a bowl of the Soup ($7). You can tell a lot about a chef from soup. She asked if I wanted them together or the soup first; I told her to bring them out when they're ready and not to leave anything under a heat lamp.

Surprisingly, they don't have a good sound system; I could barely hear the music, and there weren't many people around, so it wasn't that noisy. I thought this side of the restaurant would be bigger. I don't really like the seating. They have open booths and bench seating in the middle of the restaurant, which aren't as comfortable or private as full booths.

Louie Bossis Mid Restaurant Seating

They only have a couple of full booths, and you'd have no chance of getting one with less than 4 people. You'd probably need 6 for dinner.

Louie Bossi's Booths

They also have a "Salumi bar", which is a place where I guess you can eat cured meats? Personally, I think they're overestimating the potential popularity of cured meat; salami isn't something that a lot of people are eating these days. Pepperoni on a pizza is about it. And Bacon. Unrecognizable cured pig parts? Not so much. Nevertheless, it's a nice bar.

Louie Bossi's Salumi Bar

I wondered why there was no bread service. An Italian restaurant where there's no bread and olive oil for the table? I later found out the official company policy:

At lunch, never offer bread; only give it if they ask for it. At dinner, always offer bread.

What a Big Time Italian restaurant.

The soup came out right away, as soup should, since they're not making it by the bowl.

Louie Bossi's Soup (White Bean & Sausage)

My first impression was "This is a bowl of soup"? A small bowl. My next impression was that there were no greens; Normally white bean soup has some bitter greens in it; escarole or mustard greens. The "white beans" were really big. These are corona beans. Maybe they don't expect that people know what they are, but they are different from the expected cannellini beans, so it should be mentioned.

Louie Bossi's Soup (White Bean & Sausage)

The soup was bland and boring. The "sausage" had no taste at all; like plain ground pork. The beans were mush. My server asked how it was, "It's fine", I said. No, not really.

I ate about half of it and moved on to reading my phone.

The porchetta panini came out in 11 minutes. The description is as follows:

PICCOLO PANINI
Porchetta, Fontina, Salumi, Basil

Not really what I expected. Not exactly an overstuffed sandwich, eh? I hope this isn't the "same size" as the $15 panini. I expected better bread.

Louie Bossi's Piccolo Panini ($10)

I didn't really expect the Salumi to be pinned to the sandwich like a gherkin to a burger at a bad diner. I tasted the salumi first. Not too salty. Not too spicy. Not as intense as I hope for with Salami. I bit into one of the sandwich quarters. Not much going on. Not much flavor at all.

Piccolo Panini Close up

My server came by and asked how it was; at first I said 'fine' but she knew I was lying. "It's kind of bland", I said. She offered to bring me some tomato sauce, but I didn't think that was a good idea.

I tried putting the salumi in one of the quarters, which gave it some flavor. I opened it up and tasted the porchetta. Zero flavor. Like boiled meat. And there wasn't much of it. It should have some skin and some herbs. This should be salty, garlicky, fatty. This was absolutely nothing.

Piccolo Panini Inside

Porchetta (pronounced Por-Ket-tah), if you don't know what it is, is layers of pork shoulder or loin and pork belly rolled up with herbs and roasted. The crispy skin adds another layer of flavor. This is what a great porchetta looks like.

Perfect Porchetta

Here's what you get at a restaurant named "Porchetta" in NYC for $10.

$10 Porchetta Sandwich at Porchetta, NYC

Sturdy bread. Pork cracklings thrown in. Which sandwich would you rather get?

They do the hard sell on overpriced desserts, but I was done with this place. She gave me this fancy lunch card, where if you buy just 6 $25 lunches you get 1 free.

Louie Bossi's Free Lunch Card

The details are in the fine print; you can only get something up to $14. So you can't even get a pepperoni pizza or a bowl of pasta with the card. Talk about petty nonsense. I understand that they don't want you to order the $35 super sampler, but let's not be ridiculous.

Conclusion

When the chef's signature dish isn't very good, you have a problem. The big problem with this restaurant is that it's just plain arrogant. It reminds me of Carrabba's. They have the wood burning oven, the open kitchen, the seating by the kitchen, but the food isn't very good. The difference is that Carrabba's isn't expensive. Their soup is better than this, they give you bread, and you can get lunch for $12.

My server should have told me that it was a little sandwich cut into quarters; not that it was 4 little sandwiches. 1 overstuffed slider would have been better than what I got. If you were served just that sandwich for $10 with no side or anything at any restaurant would you find that acceptable? Ah, but this was made by the great Louie Bossi. Not Andrew Carmellini. Not Emeril Lagasse. Louie Bossi.

If Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich where to open a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, I'd expect them to charge about what they're charging at Louie Bossi's. Just how stupid do they think the people of Fort Lauderdale are?

Initial Impression 6/5/15

The long anticipated Louie Bossi's opened yesterday; the first real new concept from the Owner's of Big City Tavern in 15 years. They're also 50% partners with Rocco's Tacos; they funded Rocco but the success of Rocco's is all Rocco; Rocco took Boca's failed Moquila concept to a new level. Without Rocco, Rocco's Tacos would have died on the vine before it ever left Clematis Street.

Let's get the history out of the way first. When Big Time started developing the Rocco's Tacos concept, they basically took their eye off the ball at Big City Tavern and it was spiraling out of control. Instead of investing in needed changes, they were making desperate cost-cutting moves that further damaged the restaurant. They fired their GM and replaced him with the completely inept Harmony Tetherow (now D'elia) who promptly promoted her inept friends, server Felicia White and hostess Elisa Block to managers. But the kicker was when they replaced chef Steve Shockey with Louie Bossi, who at the time was basically a line cook at another Big Time Restaurant. I think I called Bossi a nobody or something; apparently the owners didn't take kindly to my reporting that they'd fired an actual chef and promoted some guy from within. They were used to being able to manipulate the dishonest food writers at New Times and the Sun Sentinel; the Truth was a real problem for them.

They eventually re-focused and put the money into remodeling Big City and put new management in place; but Bossi weathered the storm.

Over the years Bossi proved that he could crank out the recipes at Big City, but being a "chef" at Big City is like being a chef at Carrabba's; they're just making dumbed-down recipes for the kind of customers who think that meatballs with a dollop of cheap ricotta is fine dining . I had a bowl of soupy pasta when I first went to Big City Tavern and I decided to stick to the burgers and pizza; after Bossi took over I tried their

sausage/rapini dish
and I couldn't even eat it. So you can imagine my surprise when I heard that they were gutting Solita's old space and naming a big restaurant after him. Almost a year later, here it is.

The outside space at Solita's (and previously Mark's Las Olas) was always pretty bad; a skinny sidewalk strip that seemed entirely detached from the restaurant. The Big Time Boys don't like walls in their restaurants, and they've opened up the space nicely.

Louie Bossi's Outside Front

Inside the place is very bright with a big bar on the left and a dining room to the right. Big Bars are a thing with Big Time restaurants, and this place is no different.

Louie Bossi's Bar

There were seats at the bar and no wait for the restaurant at 9pm. Probably not good on opening weekend.

Something I didn't like was that the bar is stainless steel. The rest of the restaurant is sort of rustic, so it doesn't seem to fit. And there's nothing elegant about steel.

They only have a food menu on their web site, so I asked for a wine list. They have a huge wine menu, but a fairly disappointing chianti by the glass selection. Gabbiano Classico for $10 and a Querceto Riserva for $15. Gabbiano is a good wine but these brands are as ubiquitous as Clos Du Bois or Santa Margherita. At least they have a classico; they have Ruffino Straw Basket Chianti at Big City for $10, which is the primary reason that I stopped going there. I'll never pay $15 for Querceto; for $15 I want something more interesting that I can't get at Total Wine.

One thing that I noticed was that they keep the wine in the front by the open window, and because the place is "open", it's also very warm. I know enough to never get wine at the outside bar at Blue Martini because it's 80 degrees; I feared that would be a problem here also.

A weak pour; they're certainly not trying to draw anyone in with this.

Louie Bossi's Weak Pour

The wine was VERY warm, which is bad. You hear nonsense about serving red at "room temperature", except room temperature used to be 65 degrees back when that axiom was coined. Low 60's is perfect for red; high 70s isn't good.

Something of note was that a young couple sat next to where I was standing and asked to see the menu I had; 3 minutes later they were gone; I'm guessing that the prices scared them away.

One of the big things here is the outdoor space in the rear. it's enclosed, like a courtyard, but it has a retractable awning which can cover the patio. I can't say that I love the decor, but it's one of the nicer spaces on the street.

Louie Bossi's Outside Space

A lot of picnic tables and patio furniture. They have 2 open air bars; one in the front and one in the rear.

Louie Bossi's Rear Bar

They have pasta on display, as if house made pasta is something unique. Frankly the pasta didn't look that terrific, although it is better than the bags of

dried pasta
that they have on display at Cafe Europa.

Louie Bossi's Pasta Display

Every new restaurant has to have an open kitchen now, because that's what it says in Restaurant Weekly magazine.

Louie Bossi's Kitchen

While I was finishing up my drink, I tried to get a feel for the bar. They have these skinny tables in the middle of the floor; maybe they're standing tables where you can put down your drink. That lady stole the chair from the bar, which will happen frequently.

Louie Bossi's Bar Area

What's amazing is that in the 20 minutes or so that I was here, I didn't see 1 dish come out for the bar. I wanted to see food coming out, but didn't see much; I only saw some rice balls that looked very Carrabbas-like. I heard some people say that they were waiting "forever". This place is listed as having 271 seats. Obviously they just opened, but I wonder if they'll ever be able to handle a full restaurant. This is 50 more seats than Big City Tavern. Fresh pasta cooks quickly and they don't have much meat on the menu, so maybe that's part of the menu strategy.

For some reason, they're already starting with a DJ. Have the owners ever (yet) been to Big City when the DJ was on? This didn't seem like much of a DJ crowd to me. The DJ works at Rocco's because it's a young, shot drinking, guacamole eating kind of crowd. Real restaurants don't have DJs. I find it interesting that people who fought tooth and nail against putting a 2nd TV in Big City are now putting a DJ in a big, Italian restaurant.

Louie Bossi's DJ

Conclusion

I can't get past the feeling that the owners of this place live in a world with a different colored sky than ours; the idea that they're going to be able to fill a 270 seat restaurant with prices higher than NYC with a "chef" who's never worked at a good restaurant seems patently absurd.

Another thing is given the ridiculous prices, they have an amateur bar staff who measure out drinks and give weak wine pours. This place will never get any regulars with that combination.

As for the restaurant itself, I hear everyone saying how beautiful it is; and it is a nice restaurant. But I think there's a lack of comfortable seating. There are too many big tables. I saw a couple sitting alone on a plank table for 8. The standing tables in the bar area are weird. I can't see this being much of a hangout; I can't see myself sitting at the metal bar with a 1/2 glass of wine watching a game. Oh, and every single set (5 of them) was on ESPN instead of Baseball or Tennis. The TVs are just decorations.

And there's something about the bar that just doesn't flow.

There are 2 reasons that people go to Big City Tavern. First, it's a very comfortable restaurant. Second is that it's the best location in the entire city. This place has neither of those attributes.

Maybe the food will be fantastic, but it's hard to imagine given that the "team" is the same one who came up with the menu at Big City and Rocco's Tacos. I'll try a few things but I'm never going to pay $24 for a bowl of Bossi's pasta. I can make a bowl at home for 80 cents that I can guarantee will be better than what I can get here.

The bottom line is that they're charging more here than Celebrity Chefs charge at their $150/sq ft restaurants in NYC. Are there enough people in Fort Lauderdale willing to pay that for Louie Bossi's food?

Pre-Opening Ramblings

Construction of Louie Bossi's Restaurant

The Big Time Restaurant Group; the group that owns Big City Tavern, City Oyster in Delray and Rocco's Tacos, will open an Italian restaurant in the space previously occupied by Solita. The restaurant is being gutted and construction is expected to take 4 months.

If you don't know who Louie Bossi is, don't expect to find much info about him. While his linked in profile has him as "Executive Chef of Big Time Restaurant Group" since 2000, it simply isn't the truth. Before taking over for Steve Shockey as head chef of Big City Tavern in 2010, he was just a cook in the system. He's worked his way up, which is fine, but given my sampling of the Italian food at Big City Tavern, you have to wonder what they're thinking. The food I had was terrible.

Lisabet Summa, a partner who holds the title of Director of Culinary Operations at Big Time, has complete control of the culinary operations at all restaurants. So Bossi just runs the kitchen at Big City; a restaurant that isn't any better or worse than it was before he took over.

They're presenting this as a "partnership", which implies that Bossi may have an ownership stake in this , which is very surprising. Local's don't consider Big City Tavern as a place that has very good food; it certainly no better than it was before he started working there. He has no name recognition, so how is opening a big place with his name on it going to draw either locals or tourists? Big City is known for its extreme corporate mentality; scaling back ingredients while raising prices; how is that going to fly in an "Authentic" Italian restaurant? And do we think that a cook can learn to be a great Italian chef by flying to Italy and going truffle hunting, or by watching others?

Louie Bossi and Lisabet Summa (From Facebook)

A photo from their FB page of Bossi with Lisabet Summa, the brainchild behind the menu at Big City Tavern. Summa has complete control of culinary operations, so I hope her cost cutting recipe ideas don't make a fool out of Bossi.

It really doesn't matter; it will be a corporate restaurant with a corporate menu; I'm thinking it will be much like the Big City Tavern with an Italian Menu. Any way you slice it, it will be better than Solita, which was just a weird place with mediocre food.

Considering that Rocco's Tacos was Rocco Mangel's brainchild; it can be argued that the Big Time Restaurant group hasn't had a good idea in 15 years. The only "new concept" they've come up with is "Grease" a burger bar with one location that's basically a retrofitted Big City Tavern that just serves Burgers.

Update

Apparently Tom Sawyer stopped by and painted over the advertising. Maybe the sign police paid them a call.

Louie Bossi's Restaurant Under Construction

Update May 16, 2015

Some shots of the outside bar and patio.

Louie Bossi's Sidewalk Patio

Louie Bossi's Patio

Some Predictions

I'll make some pre-opening predictions of what the impact of Louie Bossi's is going to be. It's going to be a big, fancy restaurant so everyone is going to try it, and it's going to be more attractive to tourists than the other Italian choices.

It's going to have a big imact on Cafe Europa, Tuscan Grill and Luigi's due to it's close proximity. If it's a good restaurant, Tuscan Grill may be history. They've recently ballooned their prices and nobody is going to pay those prices with the Big, New Bossi's across the street. I think Luigi's is already in trouble, and this could be the nail in the coffin. Why sit in that little dump when you can go to a big comfortable restaurant. And Cafe Europa is going to lose 20% of their business. The Euros may still go there, but the food there is mediocre so another choice, even if it's not that good, will suck away some of their crowd.

Why will ANYONE go to Fork & Balls?

Too much Italian in a town that knows nothing about Italian food isn't going to create new customers. Small italian cafes are somehow charming to some; maybe people don't like eating Italian food in a huge restaurant. But the newness of Bossi's is going to suck all of the business from the other 3 for the summer while people decide if they like Bossi's or not. It's going to be a long summer for the old school guys.

Noodles is another place. I'm not sure how they survive with those prices. The place is small and appeals to Euros. But some of those curiosity-seekers have to wander into Bossi's.

Comment Policy Add Comment
Jed
Reply
Last few times I have been to Louie Bossi the crowds have diminished significantly and so has the service. The pizza is served lukewarm/soggy and salads are overdressed. As you said, no bread is offered until you ask for it. Even worse, the floors and seats are usually dirty. The bottom line is that, as you correctly point out, it is just not worth it.
Adrian
Reply
If you have any food allergies what so ever,
Don’t expect them to cater to you.
They won’t and are too unintelligent to care!

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