One Door East a hidden gem in Fort Lauderdale culinary scene

There is little I enjoy more than finding a “hidden gem’’ of a restaurant. And on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale, I’ve got a good one for you – Chef Giovanni Rocchio’s One Door East.

Located just a few blocks from trendy Las Olas Blvd., One Door East literally is adjacent to Rocchio’s popular Valentino Italian restaurant. In fact, One Door East (get it?) once served as Valentino’s storage space. It’s tall ceilings and modern industrial design, which features teal walls and a cement floor, are outstanding backdrops to one of South Florida’s great dining experiences for small and large plates, as well as signature cocktails. www.onedooreast.com

To many people, small plates means “tapas.’’ But that five-letter word is a four-letter word to One Door East Chef Jeremy Bearman.

“Tapas is one or two small bites,’’ Bearman said.

One look at Bearman’s “small plate’’ of burnt ends, house-made kielbasa (with red sauerkraut) and pork ribs topped with house sauce (good enough to make Texans jealous) and you’ll know “small’’ has a different meaning at One Door East.  Want something a bit different? Try the pretzel skillet with aji Amarillo butter and stout cheese.

Large plates items include a roasted cauliflower steak with Earl Grey raisin and an amazing pepper-crusted short rib with celery root and horseradish.

For sea foodies, the large plate of red snapper with mussels, zucchini, eggplant and red curry is a must.

Whether it’s a “small’’ or a “large’’ plate, make sure to bring a few of your friends. Sharing plates is the best way to experience One Door East.

“We kind of hit all of the notes from American barbecue to Spanish to Japanese,’’ Bearman said. “We have a48-inch smoker in the back that’s a ‘true’ stick smoker We’ll use it two to three times per week with white oak for eight to 10 hours.’’

A hidden gem within this hidden gem of an eatery? No doubt it’s the corn and blueberry salad with crispy grits that serve as croutons is not to be missed. The crispy grits, if served separately, could serve as a signature entrée.

“We usually change two or three things on the menu per week, so people don’t see the same things, but the corn and blueberry salad is something that we’ve kept on the menu because people love it,’’ Bearman said.

I’m sure you’ll love it, too, as well as the other small and large plates at One Door East.


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