I always say “never judge a book by its cover” and this relates to everything, not just people. Russo’s Coal Fired Italian Pizza in Pembroke Pines is a franchise and if I’d judge that by its cover I’d say “MEH, ANOTHER FRANCHISE!”, because lets be real… We have enough of those, I am all about that #LOCALLOVE. Now, because I don’t judge books by their cover, I took a step back and found a special something this franchise carries that I am sure no other Russo’s has… Chef Arroyo and his craft beer dinners.

Here is the menu of the dinner that I attended:


Now you know what comes after the menu… My sharing is caring photos.

First Course : Butter Fried Crab stuffed Baozi which came with a mustard glaze on the side. Just looking at these you can tell they are puffy and soft like a cinnamon roll, right out of the oven. The crab was so fresh and the mustard glaze is what sealed the deal to pair beautifully with Dogfish Head’s Seaquench Berliner.

Second Course : Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with puffed farro, dried cranberries, bottarga and a black garlic-chili dressing which was poured over very lightly it just gave it a nice bitter taste to go against the cranberries and mix well with Dogfish Head’s Truth Serum IPA. The hops exploded in my mouth as it washed off the sweet and bitterness from the salad.


Third Course : If you know me, you know how much I love duck! The third course was Duck and Grits-char roasted romanesca veronica and fermented blueberries which was like a jam. The duck meat, although you had to put in work to get it off the bone, once it was in your mouth being chewed it was the softest meat you can imagine. The grits were pureed to perfection. The char roasted romanesca gave it the right kick the plate needed. Everything was meant to be eaten at the same time because its how you got all of the flavors in. The beer that paired with this dish was the Pennsylvania Tuxedo which was my favorite of the night (so good I asked for a refill). Even if you are not a beer drinker because of how smooth it goes down I believe this will make you a beer LIKER at least!

Fourth Course : Miso Seared Petite Filet Mignon with Autumn succotash. The sauce, the veggies, the meat – OH MY GOODNESS! I wish I could’ve taken a picture of the meat when I cut it because WOW! The meat was cooked perfectly, as I cut through it with very minimum work you can see the light pink on the inside and it getting darker as it touched the outter surface. The juices the filet mignon had exploded in my mouth with every bite. I think alone the meat itself had its own juices and then here came Arroyo and made it THAT MUCH BETTER! This delicious dish was paired with the Burton Baton which is an oak aged IPA. So delicious, it was the equivalent of having a glass of red wine with your steak.

Fifth Course : The  crème de la crème! DESSERT! Chef Arroyo killed it with this grand finale as he made Honey Truffle Crunch Babka. This dish came on a board and was laid out where you could build your own Babka, which made it so much fun! It was the perfect kind of sweetness you needed, not overbearing (this is coming from someone that doesn’t like sweets). The magical beer of the hour that paired with this dish was the 120 minute IPA. I am an IPA girl and I was not a fan of the 120. It tasted like straight up alcohol. But then again, being Hispanic, I get the point of having a digestive so I guess this was it.

I truly believe that cooking is an art. Who you are definitely seeps into every dish that you make. After getting to know Arroyo  (along with his family post dinner) things made a lot more sense with his flavors. Chef Arroyo has had chef aspirations since the age of seven which motivated him immediately right after high school to pursue culinary school at Johnson and Wales. Life happens, somethings don’t go as planned and instead of finishing at Johnson and Wales he ended up graduating from Le Cordon Bleu four years later. Education looks good on paper, but passion is what sets you apart from everyone else that is qualified. Arroyo has worked since at exceptional hot spots like Michael Genuine Food and Drink for four years which two of those years were as sous chef to Niven Patel, now chef of Ghee. Later down the line Arroyo found himself at Sugarcane, Bocce Bar, La Goulue and Don Shula’s Hotel and Golf Club as their banquet chef. The universe has its way of always having your back – and the universe did not fail Arroyo. Little did he know that the hostess he would meet and greet every time he clocked into work at Shula’s would be the woman he’d one day be engaged to and have a child with. That is right, between his hustle of becoming the chef that he is today a fire lit along the way that he could not put out and his fiance, Karla, couldn’t turn away from. Timing is everything and just as Arroyo did not graduate from where he first anticipated from, he did eventually, which led to the right time to meeting Karla and it wasn’t until eight years later from once meeting his fiance, that he’d meet her again and they would be in one another’s lives romantically.

So why all the talk about this Karla? Here is where everything comes full circle… Karla is the general manager and owner of the Russo’s franchise restaurant in Pembroke Pines. Arroyo did not become part of her team until the day he saw that his fiance lost her cook, and struggled. She ended up having to step in with their newborn baby on a stroller next to her. Team work is what sparked this beautiful collaboration with two individuals working towards their own growth, which continuously feeds their flourishing relationship. As a franchise you see every restaurant the same, nothing sticks out, but this Russo’s is not like every other one because owner and general manager Karla allows fiance and head chef Arroyo to venture out and do things like his once a month beer dinners. Credit is due to Phil Reis, a long time family friend who once worked with Gold Coast Distributing and brought the idea to both Chef Arroyo and Karla. They are now 17 beer and 3 wine dinners in deep with no stop sign in sight. Chef Arroyo plans to open up his own pop up and in the future permanent restaurant which currently holds the name of CON•-TRADITION. The name stands for WITH TRADITION in Spanish and CONTRADICTION in English because everything he does is in tradition of who he is and contradicts everything because of the twists and turns he so beautifully adds to every dish he makes.

There is nothing more beautiful than seeing love flow. The love Karla has for Arroyo to grow to his full potential is a sight to see. Chef Arroyo shines because he is able to freely express his crafty side with these dinners, there are no boundaries and all of the local love is met too because he only shops local when it comes to building these dinners. I am excited for his next dinner in January and here’s the twist … There will be wine in next months dinner! So who is joining me? Lets raise a glass to passion and love – its something the world needs more of and there’s plenty of it going around when you attend Chef Arroyo’s exquisite beer AND / OR wine dinners.



Russo’s Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen of Pembroke Pines || WEBSITE| INSTAGRAM

Address : 14910 Pines Blvd, Pembroke Pines, FL 33027

Phone : (954) 431-1131

* you can find information on the next and previous beer / wine dinners via IG



@littlemariii | #EatingWithLittleMariii

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