VERO BEACH – A guy walks into a bar. He has no prior knowledge of the establishment or the chef, and he’s never looked at the menu. That was me, walking into the America Grill + Bar inside South Vero Square.
Once the very popular nightclub “Y Not” in Vero Beach, the space holds a large walk around bar outside, a full bar inside, a raised stage and even a dance floor. The American Grill and Bar is no ordinary bar and grill. It was nothing like I imagined and the raw talent of Chef Arturo Alici was shocking.
With over 25 years of experience as a chef and 43 years in the hospitality business, passion is all you see at the American Grill. Arturo has 3 degrees in management and hospitality and worked for big corporations like Hilton and Regency Hotels. Being half Turkish and half Sicilian, Arturo spent his younger years in Istanbul Turkey.
Once an avid traveler, Arturo soaked up new techniques from local cuisine across Europe and learned to use various spices which reflects in his dishes. He even spent time in Paris training in fine cuisine with top French chefs.
Prior to Vero Beach, Arturo owned three restaurants before the American Grill + Bar including a very successful one named “White Rainbow” in Cape Ann, MA. With a fine dining fare, he earned recognition across New England as well as being named one of the top 100 restaurants in America.
We popped in on a Wednesday night at American Grill and quickly learned it was their Doo-Wop night. With a live local band playing music from the 50s-70s the dance floor was jammed with smiling faces.
Sarah was our server, and she was sweet, attentive and helped us navigate the tremendous menu. I started with a house drink called an Italiano. Made with citrus vodka, Limoncello, ginger beer, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and garnished with Italian basil. It was refreshing and went down smoothly.
We chose to try three appetizers, Swamp Chicken, French Onion Fondue and the Green Tomatoes. My entree choice was the Parisienne burger.
My date chose a lighter fare from the many salad choices. The Swamp Chicken is not chicken at all but marinated alligator tail breaded lightly and fried. It was a very tender, pink meat and came with a spicy remoulade. My date being raised in South Florida has eaten her share of gator tail, she said it was “VERY good.” Alligator can tend to be tough, chewy or have a muddy taste.
The French Onion Fondue is a cheese lovers dream. It’s a classic French onion soup deconstructed and created as a dip with caramelized onions, rich Gruyere cheese and pita chips seasoned lightly with African spices. It was a classy version of a cheese dip with tasty flavors. Green Tomatoes are a staple in a southern home. With a crispy fried cornmeal and flour crust, the fresh green tomatoes were tender and tart. Chef Arturo’s take on this country favorite was simple and well executed.
Now let’s talk about the Parisienne burger; it is not your typical burger by any means, and I’ve never had anything like this one before. It was a housemade duck patty seasoned with smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander. It was topped with brie cheese, sliced green apples, lettuce, tomato, and a French wild cherry compote.
This burger screamed flavor and its profile I found to be perfect. I’m not easily impressed and this one Mr. Alici you’ve gotten right.
This stupendous burger at American Grill came with a side of beautiful thick hand-cut French Fries dusted with melted parmesan cheese. These fries were nothing but excellent.
With barely any room for more, we chose to try a couple of easy to eat desserts. I went for the Adult Ice Cream, and my beautiful date picked Chef Arturo’s secret weapon. A Champagne Float.
The Adult Ice Cream was smooth, creamy and folded in liqueurs like Kahlua, Grand Marnier and Irish Cream topped with sliced smoky bacon and a chocolate drizzle. It was a perfect selection and left me wanting more.
The Champagne Float was undoubtedly impressive but simple. Chef Arturo makes a fresh frozen Greek yogurt adding French wild cherries and floats a scoop in a glass of Prosecco wine.
American Grill and Bar in Vero Beach is a creation you can only get from a highly skilled and talented artist like Chef Arturo Alici. “Taste the Passion” is his very own rallying cry.
Be sure to say “Hi” to Arturo the owner, and tell him Brian sent ya!
9 out of 10
American Grill + Bar
710 South, US-1
Vero Beach Fl 32962
Chef Arturo is always looking for experienced cooks and servers. Inquire within.