Sustainable Floridian ingredients abound at Amami Famous Italian Restaurant, 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. 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.
Zesto Pizza's kitchen tosses fresh New York–style pizzas and tasty supplements using organic ingredients whenever possible. A large pizza provides a 16-inch spread of circular sustenance for hungry trios or a temporary foundation for a skyscraper, especially when loaded with toppings such as pepperoni, feta, or buffalo chicken. A large garden salad and cheese-smothered garlic bread prelude the meal or serve as its savory denouement, and three 20-ounce sodas slake thirst.
Inspired by the menus of neighborhood eateries throughout Naples, the chefs at Fresco Miami combine the traditional and modern as they assemble refined dishes using high-quality ingredients. Pastas, pizzas, and grilled entrees are speckled with familiar flavors such as buffalo mozzarella and imported Italian prosciutto, as well as imaginative adornments such as Maine lobster and edible microchips. Adhering to his own time-tested recipes, Alfredo Forgione and his handpicked team of chefs also churn out oven-crisped Neapolitan pizzas.
Fresco Miami’s décor, much like its cuisine, effortlessly blends contemporary and time-honored styles. The wall art's vibrant reds and purples stand in contrast to the dining room's hues of black, white, and brushed nickel. Outdoors, patio seating allows diners to enjoy their meals as they keep an eye out for the return of their favorite cloud.
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.
In addition to saying AltaMare has “the freshest fish in town,” South Beach Magazine, praised owner Claudio Gordano for creating a “menu that showcases the best catches from local fishing boats intermingled with classic Italian dishes.” Diners can watch every step of the preparation process, thanks to the restaurant’s open kitchen, where chefs batter local yellow-eye snapper and blanket it with cucumber crème fraîche, or lightly sear wahoo before plating it with baby artichokes and arugula.
Not to be outdone by the entrees, many of the desserts are creative takes on classic dishes: a “ceviche” swaps seafood for a mélange of tropical fruits swimming in citrus dressing, and the deconstructed tiramisu combines mascarpone mousse, ladyfingers, and shots of espresso and Bailey’s.
The nearby ocean poses as a backdrop to Caffe Milano, with patio dining complementing the scenic menu of contemporary Italian offerings. Rev up appetites with the prosciutto antipasti ($17.50) before sending hunger up the river with the grilled salmon with garlic white-wine sauce ($26.50). Dinner diners will delight in the veal marsala, a medley of the titular meat with mushrooms and mashed potatoes in an aromatic wine sauce ($29.50), and dumpling enthusiasts will dig happily into the gnocchi gorgonzola, plump potato pockets doing the backstroke in a savory pool of fancy cheese and cream sauce ($18.50). Classic desserts such as the tiramisu Milano ($10.50) or frutta fresca ($9.50) round out the meal’s end and reward taste buds for a job well done.