Before Carbone, Prime Italian, Café Martorano and their ilk there was Anthony’s Runway 84, the iconic dining institution that opened in the heart of Fort Lauderdale 40 years ago. The landmark maintained a well-earned reputation for classic Italian-American cooking and hospitality since the day it opened its doors. No matter the night, its vibe – equal parts raucous dinner party and Goodfellas glam – combined with its celebrity magnetism and delicious food and drink – made it a nightly hotspot, as clutch for cocktails and conviviality as it was for a meal with friends or a special occasion. When the restaurant closed in spring 2022 for a complete (and pricey, $4 million) renovation, loyal diners who knew Runway as their second home, waited in anticipation for the reopening. Now, after an eight-month closure and a complete makeover that promises a cool, contemporary look that evokes the historic spirit of Anthony’s Runway 84, now simply Runway 84, will reopen to the public late-January 2023.
“The decision to close was not an easy one to make but it was the right one,” contends owner Anthony Bruno. “A successful 40-year run is almost unheard of in this business. We were blessed and lucky to have such a loyal following that stayed with us over so many years. It was time to refresh and prepare for our next 40 years doing what we do best: make people feel like family.”
With an official January target opening date still pending, anticipation has been and remains high for what looks like one of it not the biggest restaurant openings of the year. This major refresh is the brainchild of partners Bruno, Pat Marzano of Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza and Marc Falsetto of Handcrafted Hospitality; a trio of restaurant kingpins who envision Runway 84 as a tony supper club worthy of The Rat Pack at their hippest. “Those that loved the original Anthony’s Runway 84 will find plenty of new to love and will find familiarity around every corner, from the art of the walls to the food on the plate,” adds Marzano. For the design, the team has tapped Miami-based award-winning design firm Bigtime Design Studios to reimagine the space and turn their vision into a reality. Among the additions, a live music lounge featuring a gorgeous new grand piano and dramatic crystal chandelier; a tony new bar complete with an elevated cocktail program and a dramatic new entranceway delivering major Copacabana vibes.
Taking cues from the restaurant’s rich 40-year history and the storied lives of its owners, the design team strived to reimagine the space in a way that preserved what was, mirrored our present-day affections and channeled future inclinations. Not an easy task. Through an immersive color palette and custom tactile elements, Runway 84’s new design evokes the spirit of the old-school supper clubs that made Lower Manhattan and Las Vegas hotspots in the 1930s and ‘40s. With hues of green, gold and burgundy combined with an elaborate coffered walnut ceiling, custom furniture including “gangster booth” seating for families and large groups, the restaurant’s new look represents four generations of dining in an authentic, sophisticated and chic way. Thoughtfully selected details including a rose wall covering matched with dark emerald green velvet banquettes, custom crystal chandeliers and brass art lights create an intimate and sexy vibe, while elements like the “Wall of Fame,” a homage to the cast of characters who have wined, dined and graced the halls of the restaurant, presents a whimsical and familiar touch. In addition to the main indoor dining room, the restaurant will feature an outdoor dining room on the al fresco patio as well as an impressive bar, intimate circular mini lounge and a private dining room. Seating 190 guests both indoors and outdoors, Runway 84 will dazzle the eye and the palate.
"The magic of creating a space where nothing matches is because it's all a match. Our goal with the design was to immerse patrons in a sea of colors, textures and light play to welcome the fresh yet familiar vibe present in four decades of Anthony’s Runway 84,” says Callin Fortis of Bigtime Design Studios.
A sneak peek at the menu for Runway 84 is a tempting mix of classics, favorites and new offerings sure to wow longtime fans as well as the uninitiated. Chief among Appetizers, is Wagyu Beef Carpaccio topped with shaved truffles, pistachios, mushrooms, and chives. Must-haves, such as Classic Meatballs, Hot and Cold Antipasti for two and Stuffed Artichoke, among others, remain. Two new Salads will make their premiere: a delicious tableside Caesar salad and the Chopped “Antipasti” with chopped romaine, mortadella, salami, provolone and more. Of course, Pasta reigns supreme with Spicy Rigatoni sliding in among classics including Rigatoni Cauliflower, Linguine Aglio e Olio and Lasagna Neapolitan, served tableside.
A frequent menu special was Swordfish “Runway style” and it will be taking a well-earned place on the permanent menu. It consists of a 10 oz. portion of local swordfish, cooked to perfection and dressed with fresh garlic, basil, cherry tomatoes and olive oil – simple and sublime. A hearty counterpoint to the swordfish will be a killer new Chicken Parmigiana dressed with a spicy vodka sauce, topped with melted mozzarella, crispy prosciutto, and peas. Like everything at Runway 84, this dish is meant to be shared.
The most dramatic addition to the menu is a new Prime Steaks & Chops section, featuring prime cuts custom-selected and aged exclusively for Runway 84. Among the cuts – a 16 oz. New York strip and 10 oz. Filet Mignon, both wet-aged, as well as a dry-aged 40 oz. Prime Porterhouse. New and returning dishes from this section will no doubt pair well with the new giant “cacio & pepe” Twice Baked Potato, dressed with whipped ricotta and black truffles.
Runway 84 was always known as one of Fort Lauderdale’s premier spots for a perfectly-made cocktail, especially when it came to the classics. Now, informed greatly by Falsetto’s craft mixology acumen, the bar program at Runway 84 will continue and cement that reputation, its classic cocktail craftsmanship augmented by an array of new offerings. Among them, a Smoked Old Fashioned – Knob Creek small batch bourbon, simple syrup, Angostura bitters, filthy cherry and orange peel; Anthony’s Paper Plane – Woodford Reserve bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol, passion fruit and Wheels Up – Gray Whale gin, St. Germaine; fresh lemon juice and simply syrup. For a truly top shelf luxurious libation, there are two Reserve Cocktails that wink at the restaurant’s aeronautical affectations. They are the Mile High Club – Macallan Rare Cask, Café Borghetti espresso liqueur; Grand Mariner; orange bitters, French-pressed and served tableside and the First Class – Herradura Legend Anejo, Los Magos Satol; sweet vermouth and Peychaud’s Apertivo liqueur. Of course, perfectly-poured martinis of all styles will always be in demand and mixed to ice-cold perfection.
“The timing for Runway 84’s relaunch is perfect as Fort Lauderdale’s demographics are evolving and the culinary landscape continues to expand. When it comes to dining out, guests are looking for elevated experiences that merge dining, drinking and entertainment and that is exactly what the new Runway 84 will deliver. I am honored to be part of the team making this dream a reality,” remarks Falsetto.
Runway 84 is slated to open late-January 2023. It is located at 330 West State Road 84 in Fort Lauderdale. Reservations are strongly suggested. Telephone: (954) 467-8484; website: www.runway-84.com.
Brustman Carrino Public Relations