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How the new restaurant Moréa got its name is pretty straightforward.
“I was in Greece,” recalls owner Lou Moshakos. “And while I was driving … I had to stop at a toll booth and I saw the name, Moréa. I thought that sounds like a great name. And that’s how we chose the name. You know, sometimes we toss around a name, and no one seems to agree. And this one, it was very easy to come up with. We all agreed.”
By “we” he means his business partners, wife Joy and daughter Amber. They operate North Carolina-based LM Restaurants, the company behind Moréa, which is scheduled to open Friday, Jan. 28 at the Paramount Condominium on Fort Lauderdale beach.
With a name harkening back to a peninsula in southern Greece, Moréa will have a Mediterranean menu.
“We see in that particular area [on Fort Lauderdale beach], you have all the hotels, different travelers from all parts of the world,” Moshakos explains. “We think Mediterranean would fit in the area.”
With price points around $12-$38, the menu will focus on small plates for sharing, “the type of communal dining that is the heart and soul of the Mediterranean kitchen.” Dishes will include:
- Fritto misto with calamari, shrimp, zucchini and served with sumac dusted lemon aioli
- Burrata with grilled country bread, balsamic, heirloom tomatoes, prosciutto crisp, pesto and arugula
- Roasted cauliflower vadouvan with yogurt, lemon zest and toasted hazelnuts
- Seafood paella with bomba rice, saffron, shrimp, mussels, clams, aioli and socarrat
- Slow-roasted sea bass plaki (oven-basked fish with crushed tomatoes and peppers)
- Roasted oysters with guanciale hollandaise and lemon
- Bacon-wrapped dates with piquillo sauce, Marcona almonds and bread
- From the enclosed woodfire grill there will be flatbreads of truffle, fig and gorgonzola, as well as prosciutto and soppressata
- There will also be a selection of wood-grilled steaks and meats such as Colorado lamb rack with salmoriglio and Peruvian chili sauce
Aside from handcrafted cocktails, the bar will spotlight wines on tap with an eco-friendly system that does away with bottle waste.
“A lot of people think wine on tap means cheaper wine,” explains Moshakos. “But that is not true. What it is, first of all, is environmentally friendly. It holds [the equivalent of] 26 bottles. That means you have thrown 26 bottles into the environment. And it guarantees to preserve the quality for 30 days. You open a bottle of wine and in two or three days, the quality is not the same. With this [system] the guest orders a glass and then they can go on to the next one. It gives everyone flexibility. If you want a bottle, you can taste before you open the bottle.”
Here in South Florida, the Moshakos family also owns Oceanic in Pompano Beach and Two Georges at The Cove in Deerfield Beach (which is being rebranded as The Cove).
LM Restaurants is also developing Lucky Fish Dania Beach on the site of the old Dania Beach Grill with a $5 million renovation (the deal also included sister restaurant Lucky Fish Pompano).
Though their company is headquartered in Raleigh, Lou and Joy Moshakos moved back to Pompano Beach a little over seven years ago, where it all started back in the 1970s with their first eatery, Seafood Shanty.
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“Fort Lauderdale is a great market,” Moshakos adds. “A market that is going to grow more. We are investing quite a bit in the last three years.”
The location and the look
The 275-seat restaurant has an indoor dining room, a lounge/bar space and an al fresco waterfront terrace that will also have a bar — all situated at the front of the Paramount Condominium, between Vistamar and Belmar streets and next to the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens in the quieter enclave just a few blocks north of “The Strip” on the beach.
“I think its a great area,” he says. “The building itself, it’s very nice. We love that part of the beach. It’s north of where the younger people are hanging out. The space itself has high ceilings, which is very difficult to find at any oceanfront. We’ve got 20-foot ceilings looking at the Atlantic Ocean, that really, really attracted us. The space itself is very, very unique.”
And that calls for a unique visual centerpiece in the restaurant envisioned by the Moshakos and their longtime family friend and designer Giorgio Bakatsias.
For Moréa, Bakatsias enlisted Doug Frates, a protégé of famed glass artist Dale Chihuly, to create a two-story glass wall installation.
“[We have a] concept similar in Raleigh with out restaurant Vidrio with this handblown glass. I can’t tell you how many people stop and take a picture of that, so we hired the same artist. He came down and decorated our walls. The whole place is like going into an art museum.”