A Global Tour for Your Taste Buds
Gino Perez-Ferrari’s career has been anything but boring. “I’ve opened over 20 restaurants in my career. I’ve opened restaurants in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Ireland, Canada. I opened a bunch in my home country of Puerto Rico. As I built my career over the last 23 years, I hand picked my favorites across all the dishes and cultures that I’ve experienced and created a place that serves them as authentically and true to the original as possible.”
While exploring all the culinary world has to offer, Gino closely studied the traditional methods for making mainstay dishes of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Hispanic cultures. His passion for food and preserving these traditions is what makes AQUI Bar + Kitchens so different from other restaurants that claim to offer authentic menu items.
“When it comes to the local sourcing of products, we try to stay within our vicinity. We have World Coffee right next door in Flagler Village. We have a local ice maker, the Ice Butcher, where we get crystal-clear, perfect ices for our bar and drinks. Our saffron is from Performance Food Group, which sources all of our products nationally and locally, but we try to prioritize local products.
When it comes to whiskey, my business partner Trent has many relationships with our local liquor vendors who source the best products for him. Right now we have a hand-picked barrel of Old Forester whiskey specifically bottled for AQUI”, he says.
Culinary Artistry Across Cultures: Crafting Authentic Flavors and Experiences
That kind of dedication to every detail of their food and drink menu is what keeps loyal patrons coming back again and again. From the Espresso Tini made with Mr. Black’s Cold Brew coffee liqueur and hair whipped crème fresh, to poke bowls, burritos, and kebabs, every item is a culinary experience that transports you to another country.
“You really get a little bit of each culture,” Gino shares, “Our chicken kebab is hand cut and placed on metal skewers and cooked authentically over an open flame, like it would be in Iran. It’s over 800 degrees hot to get a nice char and flavor and it goes great with our fresh hummus.
From the Asian kitchen you get our Famous Poke Bowl. It’s made with #1 sashimi grade tuna diced and topped with our house poke sauce and spicy aioli. That’s served over jasmine rice, fresh avocado, cilantro, and our pickled vegetables that we pickle in-house as well.
Our Mexican kitchen, Mamita’s Calle Taco, is actually named for my wife. She designed a lot of the food with me, so we named it for her. The Mamita’s Calle Bowl is definitely a favorite for our customers. It’s authentic yellow rice cooked with sofrito and Puerto Rican spices, our homemade pink beans, which are just to die for. Our Carnitas are marinated and braised for 6 and a half hours so it just falls off. Then it’s topped with sour cream, fresh cotija, salsa, and fresh corn tortilla chips.”
Flavor Meets Art and Architecture
That central focus on authenticity goes beyond developing recipes and choosing ingredients. The most unique feature of AQUI Bar + Kitchens is the three separate kitchens that were specifically designed for the cuisine being prepared in each one.
“Having three separate kitchens provides a bit of every single culture for our guests,” Perez-Ferrari says, “You don’t need to have one big kitchen that serves all these different menu items, because then you lose the essence. When you tailor every kitchen to a specific menu, you can embody that culture and that sense of what those specific menu items should be.”
This isn’t the only unique thing about AQUI Bar + Kitchens. While the interior has an upscale aesthetic that blends well with the surrounding art studios and workshops, the central courtyard is like stepping into a South Floridian oasis. Covered entirely in white seashells and illuminated with soft string lights, it’s the perfect place to temporarily get away from it all.
Unforgettable Ambiance: Where Every Occasion Finds its Perfect Setting
Whether you’re enjoying the sleek, sophisticated interior or lounging casually outside in the courtyard, it’s sure to be an experience you won’t soon forget. From birthdays and get-togethers with friends to business lunches and client appreciation dinners, make sure you don’t miss out on a truly unique dining experience.
Be sure to stop by for one of their weekly specials, including Taco Tuesdays, Wine Down Wednesdays, Ladies Night Thursdays, or brunch on Saturday or Sunday. You can also enjoy happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 PM to 7 PM. For professionals in the restaurant industry, enjoy an all-day happy hour each Monday!
AQUI Bar + Kitchens: 511 NE 3rd Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301