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2 New Italian Restaurants Not To Miss In Miami

The risotto is brimming with flavor and lobster, the tortelli tastes of and looks like spring with asparagus, tomatoes, English peas and basil, the lumache is blanketed with a vodka sauce rich in tomato with just enough heat. And the room decorated in vivid royal blue and red with swirling lilypad chandeliers evokes exuberance and good times by the sea. That’s the setting for Mirabella, the coastal Italian restaurant that opened in Miami Beach’s iconic Fontainebleau Hotel last fall from acclaimed chef Michael White.

New Yorkers know White from his restaurants Marea, Osteria Morini and Ai Fiori, among others, part of the Altamarea Group that he co-founded but left at the beginning of the pandemic; he then formed another hospitality group with part of its focus south. Apart from this restaurant, Paranza in Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas also opened last year and another Miami restaurant in Coral Gables is due to open next year. New Yorkers will get their own new restaurant this fall when Santi opens in the Madison Avenue site once occupied by Alto, one of White’s early successes.

Fans of his previous restaurants will immediately recognize his trademark touches here: complex but delicately blended flavors in a sizeable selection of lavish, house made pastas (including lasagna and the rooster crest-shaped creste di gallo incorporating the Bolognese sauce perfected during his years training in Italy’s Emilia Romagna), sparkling fresh crudos, an emphasis on seafood such as a two pound Mediterranean branzino and local red snapper with sundried tomato, Sicilian cauliflower and agrodolce (an Italian sweet and sour sauce). But carnivores are also represented with expertly prepared tomato braised meatballs, beef carpaccio with truffle crema, wild arugula and shaved Parmigiana, a 22 ounce bone in prime ribeye and a bone in veal chop either Parmigiana or Milanese. And desserts not to miss include bomboloni (ricotta doughnuts) with Amaretto cream and milk chocolate sauce and a sundae of vanilla soft serve with strawberries, honey brioche and lemon marmalade.

Over in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood bordering Biscayne Bay, the focus is also coastal Italian at Casadonna, which also opened last fall. The name translates to home and woman which makes sense since it’s located in the historic Mediterranean Revival building dating from 1926 that once housed the Miami Women’s Club. It’s doubtful the atmosphere was as buzzy then as it is now; what is surprising, though, is that as a collaboration between two groups that have multiple nightlife operations, Tao Group Hospitality and Groot Hospitality, the food hasn’t taken a back seat to the scene-it’s serious and exciting.

The flavors are vivid in crudos such as hamachi with compressed apple and oregano and familiar antipasti enhanced by different preparations or ingredients such as burrata with eggplant caponata, cherry tomato and suncrest peach. Main courses that also sound familiar—lamb chops with salsa verde and Mediterranean branzino with leeks and pine nut gremolata- have intense, luscious flavors that elevate them from typical preparations.

The interior, designed by noted, idiosyncratic designer Ken Fulk seems almost fairy tale with pink and pale blue tables and chairs, Moroccan sconces and custom blown glass chandeliers. But when the weather is favorable, everyone is out on the expansive terrace overlooking the bay. And if you want to arrive by boat, which seems appropriate, you can reserve a slip with the restaurant’s dockmaster.

Anna Harden

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