Located in the Beacon Light Shopping Center, this little treasure might miss your notice. Don’t be fooled by its modest exterior. Inside there is good food and cheer by one of the friendliest and most community-minded families in Lighthouse Point.
The owners, Don and Joan Hoy, run their restaurant with their chef sons, Kyle and Stephen. A third son is in Boston busy attending college and aspiring to be a professional hockey player. With Don and his sons running the kitchen, Joan is responsible for making sure that everything runs smoothly and makes what should be known as the best key lime pie around.
Don has a solid history in the food industry working at Dan Dowd’s Steakhouse, Yesterday’s, Manero’s Steakhouse and Bodega Steakhouse. Don and Joan, as previous owners of the Landlubber’s Raw Bar and Grill in Plantation for twenty years, decided to downscale to a more intimate setting, enjoying the charm and ease of Lighthouse Point residents. The inspiration for the popular signature Lighthouse Point marinade of teriyaki, pineapple and ginger used for some of their shrimp, rib eye, chicken and burger dishes came from locals who stopped in to visit while they were busy getting the restaurant ready to open.
As they like to say, “We will cater to all of your needs.”
Clearly this began in earnest even before they opened the doors on October 3, 2011. If you happen to be a successful fisherman, they will happily cook any filleted and cleaned fish that you bring to the restaurant. Cooked anyway you like at $9.95, it includes side dishes, so you can literally have your fish and eat it too!
They are lucky to still have a staff on board that have been with them since they first opened their first restaurant in Plantation, over twenty years ago. The workers are friendly, efficient and knowledgeable about a rather extensive menu.
Starting with a mound of boiled in pickling spices Peel ‘n Eat Shrimp ($5.95), accompanied by homemade cocktail sauce piqued with horseradish, the warm Soft Pretzel Sticks ($4.99) served with both spicy ground and honey mustard complemented nicely the raw oysters on the half shell from Galveston Bay ( ½ dz. for $7.99).
Followed by a cup of the Lobster Crab Bisque ($4.99), it was described as, “the best bisque you will ever have” by Jeff Coleman an ardent follower of Don and his restaurant. Both Jeff, from Sunrise and Hank Kutos from Coral Springs, make a point of traveling across town to eat at Lito’s because, well the “food is superb!” After a couple spoonfuls of crab laden chunks of tomato creamy bisque goodness, it was easy to agree.
Don makes a point of flying in fish three times a week and to ensure freshness he cuts his own fillets. Sourcing local fish as well, mahi-mahi, grouper, tuna and yellow tail snapper are regularly featured on the menu. Perhaps one of the few restaurants to offer Ipswich clams (2 dz. for $19.95), either steamed or fried, they are flown in every Wednesday night from Maine and offered until they run out, which is usually pretty quick. Sweet and briny, they are served the authentic way with real drawn butter. Joan’s recommendation is to get in early as this special typically, “lasts until it lasts.”
Crispy, medium spicy buffalo chicken wings, paired with a half rack of ribs ($15.99), were perfectly smothered in a rich, slightly sweet barbeque sauce. The meat literally fell off the bones. Sauce for the wings, which can be ordered from mild to x-hot includes lemon pepper, barbeque honey, garlic, teriyaki, jerked, garlic parmesan or raspberry! Rib choices include dry rub, Sweet Carolina or spicy barbeque. Look for 59-cent wings Monday thru Saturday from 3-6 pm, and all day Sundays until 5 pm.
Lito’s famous 10 oz. Bacon Cheddar burger ($8.99) was nicely thick with smoky strips of bacon served on your choice of Kaiser roll, Texas toast and more. Served with curly fries, be adventurous and try the sweet potato fries, potato salad, or coleslaw. Avoiding the usually oversweet base of most coleslaws or potato salads you might find in other restaurants, Lito’s makes both with a nicely slightl vinegary base of mayonnaise and red wine vinegar that complements rather than smothers the natural taste of the ingredients. The use of red potatoes for the potato salad and celery seed in the coleslaw is a nice touch.
The star of the dishes has to be their most popular item, the Tsunami. At a reasonable $12.95, it is clear why diners return again and again craving for more. Nicely-plated on an asymmetrical shaped black platter, seaweed salad is surrounded by calamari that has been marinated in lime and ginger. Served with a plum sauce and a cucumber wasabi dipping sauce, the thin slices of black and white sesame- seed- seared tuna were artistically layered around the edges of the plate. Kudos to the chefs in the kitchen! This is a wonderfully delightful dish, presenting a complex blend of flavors, as well as being a visual and textural sensation. The cucumber wasabi is a bit of culinary inspiration bringing the dish from excellent to hovering just a bit above sublime. This is a must try!
Running nightly specials, such as ‘Dolphin in the Weeds,’ featuring dolphin served over sautéed spinach in a garlic butter sauce, has become very popular. “We are a catering company,” says Joan. “We want to be sure that the Hoy family conveys a relaxed, casual atmosphere, one that each and every restaurant customer dining in their restaurant can experience.”
With a wide assortment of wines, imported, domestic and draft beers to choose from, a local Key West Sunset Ale; a standout is their extensive list of microbrews available produced both locally and imported nationwide. With a rotation of offerings, it includes Inlet Monk in the Trunk ($4.25) from Jupiter, described as “an organic, Belgian style amber,” sounded particularly interesting; a must try on the next visit. Happy hour runs Monday thru Thursday all day and night, Friday and Saturday from 3-6 pm and Sundays until 5 pm. Domestic beer is $2 and import beers $3.
Joan’s outstanding, not to be missed key lime pie, has a light delicate key lime flavor. Topped with real whipped cream, the walnut and brown sugar crust makes it an especially delightful mix of creamy and crunchy. A New York styled cheesecake with raspberry sauce was firm and light. The chocolate layer cake was definitely created with chocolate lovers in mind. Rich with layers of chocolate filling, a fudgy topping, whipped cream and mini chocolate pieces, it melted in the mouth. What a great way to end a meal!
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Monday – Thursday is 11 am- 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am until 11 pm. On Sunday, 11 am – 9 pm. Delivery, take-out and catering are also available.
Lito’s Turf & Surf is located at 2460 North Federal Highway, Lighthouse Point. Tel: (954-782-8111) Check our their site at www.litosurfandturf.com.
Article by Valerie Amor Photos by Jon Frangipane