San Remo Italian - Eau Gallie - 4 Stars (yes, you heard me right)
"I'm telling you now!!! It's my way or the highway"-- Dalton
For 42 years, Chef Joe has manned the helm at San Remo Italian Restaurant, which clocks in at the bicentennial year of 1976 when I was 10 years old. At the time, I was devastated because my favorite meal back then - a hot dog boiled in beer - was had at the Lum's Restaurant, which closed and San Remo took its place. Then I knew we would never go back to the same location because my mother despised Italian food and would never get Italian dishes, even when we went to Rocco's in Indialantic once a month.
When you enter the building, it is like walking through a time portal. You are instantly hearkened back to the wild disco 70's and literally nothing has changed during the intervening decades. There is even an old school first-generation salad bar with vintage sneeze cover.
My first thought was "Ugh, this is gonna be terrible," but the weird thing is it was really good.
First, they bring you complimentary bread service, which is nothing to write home about. It's simple bread, a little dry, brushed with a healthy portion of garlic butter. You get a trip to the salad bar, which houses simplistic items and are not overwhelming in quality though they are fresh. They even include the fake bacon bits, which I personally haven't seen in 20+ years, but I love them so I piled them on. The salad was great with a big plus by including romaine rather than iceberg lettuce - the little things do matter. My main course was the obligatory Veal Marsala. This is easily the best marsala sauce I have ever had. The veal was fried perfectly and so tender I could cut it with my fork - no knife needed.
Subsequent to this meal, I have had two horrid experiences at "top" Italian restaurants in the area. Let me tell you that there no comparison - San Remo is 100 times better. I was so amazed that a divey, locked-in-time eatery could be so good that I decided to call to find out their secret. Chef Joe answered the phone himself, and explained his secret is top cuts of veal, the freshest ingredients and the key is Marsala sauce made to order. He stated most places make Marsala two weeks in advance and let it sit, so I learned something in the process.
Anyway, Big Boy says give 'em a try. Looks can be deceiving, so don't judge a book by its cover. If you do with San Remo Italian Restaurant, you'll miss out on some great food.