December 25, 2005 Florida Today
By Maria Sonnenberg

Cocoa Village eatery recipient of prestigious restaurant award.

Christmas came a little early this year for Pam and Alex Litras, owners of Café Margaux.
The couple learned that their French restaurant in cocoa Village had received the 2006 Distinguished Restaurants of North America’s DiRoNA Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the business.
“I had no idea we were being considered,” Alex Litras said.
The award presented Litras an opportunity for some satisfying “I told so’s” to the people who, when he first opened 15 years ago, proclaimed that a French restaurant could not possibly fly in Brevard.
Café Margaux is the only restaurant in the county and one of  only a handful in Central Florida chosen for the DiRoNA distinction.  Other DiRoNA restaurants includes legends such as The Grill at the Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach, “21” Club in New York City and the Inn at Little Washington in Virginia.
Founded in 1990, Distinguished Restaurants of North America is a nonprofit group that promotes superior dining experience by recognizing the excellence of individual restaurants in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Only the crème de la crème of the dining industry are selected.
“I’ve always been fond of other DiRoNA restaurants,” Litras said.  “I would seek them out when traveling and have always been impressed.”
The award is not given lightly because the organization guarantees that if a restaurant fails to meet a patron’s expectations, it will directly reimburse up to $200 of the cost of the meal.
“They stand behind the restaurants they select,” Litras said.
Restaurants must have been established for at least three years before even being considered.
“They want to make sure you have some kind of track record,“ Litras said.
Prospective restaurants are usually identified through favorable reviews in guidebooks, newspapers or magazines.  An independent panel of industry professionals that pays an anonymous visit to the establishment, rating the place with an exhaustive evaluation system that considers anything from making reservations to paying the check and everything in between.
The quality of the food and wine, the attentiveness of the service and the appearance of the physical property and décor are all scrutinized.
Restaurants chosen to receive the award must offer a memorable dining experience that still provides value for the money.
Café Margaux’s DiRoNA award was officially presented as a gala ceremony at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
However, the Litras won’t be able to rest on their laurels if they are to remain a DiRoNA restaurant.
“They definitely monitor you and reinspect you,” Litras said.  “It’s an on-going process.”