By Brittany Llorente
VERO BEACH -- The smell of sea salt in the air follows each person into the lovely elegance of Restaurant di Mare.
With dishes and recipes from the French Riviera, the restaurant offers a unique menu.
After living in the French Riviera for 25 years, owner and head chef Jean 'Frenchie' Zana, creates culinary delights based on the Riviera's tradition.
"We kept most of the traditional Italian dishes with a twist of French," Mr. Zana said. "We have quite a few French dishes on the menu, but we specialize in veal and seafood."
The ingredients are fresh, all chosen with Mr. Zana's penchant for quality ingredients for his diners.
"We use fresh fish every day that we buy locally," he said. "Every dish is based on freshness and quality. We cook to order. There are no premade sauces and when you order a dish, we put it together when it is ordered."
The restaurant also offers freshly made bread and dessert every day.
"We are old school," Mr. Zana said. "We don't have microwaves in the kitchen. It takes a lot of extra time and effort because of that, but it shows in the ingredients and the freshness of the product."
He was right.
Every dish that was placed in front of my companion and I was delicious.
We started the night with a small sampling of brushcetta. The Antipasti was delicious, the herbs and light olive oil tasty on the sliver of bread.
The French bread was warm with a crisp crust but soft inside.
Next was a hot pasta e fagioli. Combined with the bread, these dishes started off the evening splendidly.
Up next was the Clams Casino. Using top neck clams, the light pimento butter and smoked bacon made this a rich and savory dish. The smoked bacon added a nice flavor to the clams.
For a palate cleanser between dishes, we had a nice limoncello.
For an entrée, I had the Scottish salmon Florentine.
The large piece of salmon was cooked to perfection. The nicely herbed fillet was flaky and was complimented with the sides of jasmine rice and sautéed spinach. The delicious light sauce over the salmon was a lemon butter and white wine reduction.
My companion had the veal marsala, made of scallopini veal, sautéed in a sweet marsala, onion and mushroom sauce. The cut of veal is made from the hip, which is the tenderest portion of veal.
The veal selection was tenderized and sliced to make it fork tender. Sides of sautéed mixed vegetables and jasmine rice accompanied the meal.
We couldn't leave without Mr. Zana's famous homemade cheesecake.
This cheesecake is exemplary enough to order first and then dinner last.
The richness of the cheesecake, perfectly encrusted with a ginger crumble crust, was delightful. Even with how full we already were, we finished each bite.
The restaurant has an early dining special from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. all year round, with a choice of soup or salad with several choices for entrees including veal and beef.
They also have wine and well drink specials for early birds.
Restaurant di Mare is open from 5-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday with early dinner from 5-5:30 p.m. every day.
Restaurant di Mare is located at 1517 Ocean Drive, Vero Beach. For more information, call (772) 234-2809 or visit dimareverobeach.com.