Chef Giancarla Bodoni's devotion to Italian culinary traditions transcends her time spent in the kitchen. She wanders South Florida's organic farms as though she were in the Tuscan countryside, picking fresh herbs, sampling artisan cheeses, and shaking earth from freshly harvested leeks for her seasonal menu.
There is one dish that she hasn't changed in 19 years—the asparagus flan. The time-tested appetizer ensures that feasts are launched with grace, suspending tender green shoots alongside shiitake mushrooms in a fonduta of fontina cheese, provola cheese, and white-truffle-infused oil. Pasta, meat, and fish menus divide the entree options, although each category unveils equally elegant flavors. Ravioli may be stuffed with caramelized pear and ricotta and then glazed with butter and marjoram, while tenderloins cut from grass-fed beef may arrive with asiago-cheese sauce and earthy porcini mushrooms.
The dessert menu rotates daily, reflecting the chef's creative impulses based on the best ingredients on hand. This commitment to using the freshest seasonal organic ingredients has earned Chef Giancarla and Escopazzo positive press attention, ranging from earning a place on Miami New Times's Ten Most Important Miami Restaurants of the Decade list to winning Best Organic Chef in the paper's 2012 Best Of Miami awards.
Escopazzo's decor further immerses guests in an Italian-style dining experience. A large mural extends around the main dining room, and wall sconces cast golden light over sand-colored tiles to evoke the atmosphere of an Italian villa. The second dining space houses a fountain and the bar area, where guests may sample one of the more than 400 Italian labels kept in a climate-controlled wine cellar. Built upon 15 years of tasting, the library holds many wines unavailable through general distribution. Each comes served by the bottle or in the traditional Italian quartino, which roughly translates to a glass and a half and increased dancing skills.
Sustainable, high-quality Floridian ingredients abound at Amami Brickoven Famous Italian Restaurant and Pizza, infusing every dish on the eclectic menu with original flavors and sun-kissed freshness. Mediterranean influences inform the dinner entrees, resulting in flavorful dishes such as calamari with capers, black olives, and housemade tomato sauce, and linguini with mussels and clams that, like the host's mandatory eye patch, speak to the restaurant's focus on sea-based cuisine. Housemade pastas and desserts are made daily using cereal grains such as Kamut, which are easily digestible and have a low gluten content. Their speciality is a yeast-free oval shaped pizza made using a secret recipe that has been winning over locals since 2011. Vegan, vegetarian, and heart-healthy dishes also tempt taste buds.
Happy to accommodate individual tastes and dietary requests, the kitchen's crack staff can swap ingredients in and out of any dish, a handy skill that factors into Amami’s private dinner parties. These parties, which comfortably hold 30–50 people, allow organizers to create the restaurant of their dreams for a single night without starting their own reality show. A private room is included, as is a menu catered exclusively to each parties' taste and budget.
After the unexpected loss of their father, three brothers from Eboli, an Italian hamlet in the Neapolitan countryside, pursued their disparate passions to separate corners of the globe. As Giuseppe, the eldest, toiled as a pizzaiolo in New York; Antonio, a dancer; and Gennaro, an artist, spent time honing their crafts in Madrid and Paris. It wasn't long before Giuseppe opened his pizzeria, and his younger siblings weren't far behind. With all three operating successful Italian eateries in their respective cities, the trio decided to reunite, forming Fratelli La Bufala as a joint effort where they could highlight their father's passion for water-buffalo mozzarella, a heart-healthy cheese that anchors the cuisine at each of their worldwide locations.
Working from an Italian menu modeled after Mediterranean culinary traditions, chefs prepare pastas in-house and pepper Neapolitan-style pizzas with water-buffalo meat that boasts less cholesterol and saturated fat than most traditional meat options. Like Sophia Loren's celebrity impersonators, the kitchen's ingredients are sourced from small southern Italian farms, and are transported with care to preserve their naturalness and quality.
Working side by side at Miami Beach's kitchens for nearly a decade, Moshe Petel and Spurgeon Solomon bonded over their love of Italian cuisine. Along with Nicaraguan executive chef Felix Pavon, the Israeli Petel and Honduran Solomon bring an outsider's reverence to Grazie Italian Cuisine's authentic dishes. Six days a week, the amber-lit, 75-seat dining room fills with the aroma of fresh-baked bread, which joins housemade pesto oil and toasted garlic slices to start each meal. For main courses, Chef Felix tosses handmade and gluten-free pasta with ingredients such as crabmeat and gravy as well as cooks bone-in New York strip steaks with a special rub. Classic and specialty cocktails plus domestic and imported wines help to wash down feasts, which come to a close with more than 10 housemade desserts such as chocolate pecan pie and tiramisu. Weekly specials include an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet and happy hour drinks and appetizers.
The chefs at Ghiottone Italian Restaurant incorporate recipes and wines from northern, central, and southern Italy. Although they import some ingredients from the Old World, including Tuscan porcini mushrooms and Venetian oils from the region's olive derricks, they source many from local producers and make pastas and sauces in-house. Fried polenta, risotto with truffle oil, and veal scaloppini sautéed in a sicilian marsala wine sauce all help to create a culinary roadmap of Italy from the Mediterranean to the Alps.
Despite the crisp, white tablecloths, the dining room strives to create a more casual ambience with its faux-marble walls and large paintings of the Italian seaside. On the ceiling, an extensive mural of a Roman temple dominates the space, depicting the pantheon of Roman gods as they explain the differences between Ionic and Corinthian columns to the surrounding mortals.
Each day at Cantina 71, chef Luca Laborante rolls out batches of housemade linguine, gnocchi, and ravioli, garnishing them with organic vegetables and sousing them with the eatery's own sauces. In addition to crafting a dozen hearty pasta dishes, chefs crown veal with sage butter sauce and cured Italian prosciutto and fry up fresh batches of calamari. Guests can enjoy their meal or romantic staring contests inside amid hanging lanterns and polished stone floors, or they can retreat to the patio, where strings of twinkling lights illuminate a sloped awning.