Equipped with in-depth product knowledge and bottles from all over the world, the consultants of PRP Wine International waltz into homes ready to answer nearly any question a novice oenophile may have. As they pour samples for small groups, they explain everything from the intricacies of flavor profiles and the correct pronunciation of “pinot noir” to the most dramatic way to throw a glass of red at a mortal enemy. After tastings, guests can select any of the wine varietals sampled, all of which are chosen by PRP consultants after thorough scrutiny.
Owners Horacio Oliveria and Jennifer Porciello painstakingly plan every detail of their restaurant's decor, including the frescoes and dramatic arches, and their menu to give guests the impression that they've stumbled into a little corner of Italy. As musicians tap their feet on the hand-cut mosaic floors, servers float from table to table, delivering authentic Italian meals and housemade desserts.
Chefs at La Casa Della Pasta embellish pastas, gnocchi, and desserts made in-house with handfuls of imported Italian ingredients, including eggplant and mozzarella. As owner Enrique Tangari told the Tampa Bay Times in 2011, "I import everything, flour, water, tomatoes, cheeses … to make any kind of pasta dish you want, on the menu or not." His commitment to imported flavor also extends to the restaurant's drink menu, which features wines made from such traditional Italian varietals as pinot grigio, sangiovese, and nebbiolo, as well as beers with suspiciously small amounts of fermented grape juice.
At Juliana’s Orlando, head chef Carl Cherkaoui adds a dash of detail to his Italian cuisine with his thorough mind for sauces, spices, and herbs—a passion he developed while studying the culinary arts in Morocco, France, and Germany. His globally informed flavors grace house specialties such as the crabmeat-crusted grouper fillet and the pan-roasted pork loin in a balsamic glaze. And in the eatery’s main dining room, he and his waitstaff encourage diners to sip Italian and Californian wines amid the glow of a fireplace that someday hopes to be promoted to oven.
Pizza and limoncello served alongside sushi and sake. Some might say it's an unusual collision of cuisines under one roof, but at Rice & Dough, Goran and Amy Perovic don't quite see it that way. "We consider ourselves an American restaurant featuring two favorite kinds of American food," Goran told SouthFlorida.com, explaining that today, both sushi and Italian food fall under the ever-growing umbrella of American cuisine.
No matter what you call it, Rice & Dough has made quite the impression since its 2012 opening, attracting the attention of the Miami Herald's Rochelle Koff, the Broward Palm Beach New Times's Tricia Woolfenden, and Examiner.com's Drew Berliner. Having something for everyone is likely part of its success; patrons in the mood for sushi can enjoy a collection of maki, including a Z Fantasy roll packed with shrimp tempura, eel, and avocado, prepared in plain sight by a skilled chef at the sushi bar. Italian-food lovers, meanwhile, can slice up and share a margherita pie or one of the other dozen pizzas handmade by Goran in the open kitchen. Other Italian offerings include platefuls of housemade lasagna and lunchtime paninis. Because he's a former sommelier, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Goran has also compiled an extensive wine list for his guests, featuring reds, whites, and plenty of sake.
Over his past 27 years in the culinary trade, The Wine Dive’s Chef Curtis has stayed true to his personal motto: “Never trust a skinny chef.” You can trust that he knows what he’s talking about, having manned the grills at a five-diamond resort and earned numerous awards for his efforts in more than 20 culinary competitions that span the globe. Chef Curtis brings his experience and insatiable appetite for world-inspired cuisine to The Wine Dive, where he crafts a menu of American-style tapas, artisan cheeses, and flatbreads to pair with more than 60 wines available by the glass. His ever-changing vision results in a procession of small plates that draw on a roster of rotating ingredients such as Angus beef, roasted duck, and black truffles. Not to be outdone by their kitchen counterparts, bartenders dispense two-ounce samples of wine from their glass-cased Enomatic machine, allowing guests a taste before they order a full glass. In the intimate dining room, wine-glass chandeliers cast light on exposed-brick walls and paintings while musicians take the stage on Friday nights to croon songs of lament to their empty plates of brie.