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.
After years of running a successful contemporary art gallery, Stefano Campanini couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing. While many people enjoy contemporary art, even more people enjoy drinking wine while looking at art or drinking wine while looking at wine. Through this realization and with the aid of other enophiles with wine-business savvy, Campanini merged his passions for art and wine under the moniker Wine by the Bay, where he chooses wine like most people choose art. ?I am looking forward to offering something that everyone enjoys and in an environment where the art can be appreciated by many and in an unintimidating way," Campanini says of the new, modern, 1,200-square-foot fine-wine and art boutique, which Miami New Times named 2013's Best Wine Store and Details Magazine called one of 2012's best new wine stores in the nation. "At art openings, wine is like a sideshow, but now, it will take center stage." Similar to identifying great art or choosing the perfect shampoo, finding the ideal wine to enjoy on its own or paired with cuisine involves intensive looking, sniffing, and tasting. Campanini personally samples every wine before approving it for his ample inventory of fine Italian, French, and Californian wines that appeal to a diversity of preferences.
To celebrate Italy's artisan culture, Patrizia Bagnolini and Roberto Calanchi opened 8 1/2 Caffe & Bottega?one part cafe, one part art gallery, and one part fashion boutique. As visitors sip a caff? macchiato or glass of spumante and nibble on cannelloni or pizza, they can kick back amid unique furniture and admire local art. To complete the scene, the proprietors play evocative music that transports shoppers as they peruse the selection of imported Italian cheeses or jewelry crafted by local designers.
The breadth of the Atlantic Ocean doesn't impact the reach of Alfredo Patino. As the chef and owner of Bin No. 18, the Miami-based chef draws inspiration from the casual cuisine of European bistros while using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and contemporary technique to lend a bit of New World flair to the ever-changing menus. French, Italian, and Latin American flavors appear throughout Chef Patino's cuisine, adding a global scope to the regionally rooted dishes.
Shareable platters of imported European cheeses and cured meats are served alongside Latin staples, including octopus salad, as well as classic Italian entrees made with homemade pastas. But recreating time-honored classics isn't the only thing that Chef Patino does. He also demonstrates a willingness to experiment by fusing New and Old World influences. This culinary whimsy is evident in the kitchen's modern interpretation of a Cuban sandwich—complete with slow-roasted pork, brie, and fig sauce—which earned a spot on Food & Wine magazine's list of the Best Sandwiches in the U.S.
And much like the European bistros that originally inspired Chef Patino, Bin No. 18 features an extensive wine list. Like his menu, the wine list takes a global approach by including bottles from Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Hungary, Greece, and Austria, as well as Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, Washington State, California, and Oregon. This variety of options ensures that numerous pairing options are available for diners looking to enjoy a glass with their meal or collection of small plates. CBS Miami was also impressed by the selection, placing Bin No. 18 on its 2011 list of the Best Wine Bars In South Florida.
The Old World inspiration shines through a bit more clearly in the restaurant's décor, which skews more toward a rustic, yet refined ambiance as opposed to a nouveau vibe. Wooden wine barrels sit beside tables with avocado-green chairs, occasionally doubling as small side tables. At the same time, the collection of crystal chandeliers dangling from the ceiling adds a bit of classical elegance to the space.
Mealtime at Time for Wine is a bit like piecing together a puzzle. Guests scour the menu of Spanish-style tapas, and then they select a sampling of both hot and cold dishes that pair well with their preferred wine. The options are plentiful, with rich manchego cheese cutting through the acidity of the house's red wine, and stuffed olives offering a salty counterpoint to the subtle sweetness of the caprese panini. Though many dishes feature meat, such as the ham croquettes and the chorizo sautéed in red wine, vegetarians can easily find meat-free alternatives such as eggplant-and-bell-pepper spread and fried chickpeas.
There are two approaches to ordering at miniBAR. You could poll your tablemates for a consensus on passable edibles, allowing everyone to try a bit everything, or just order one of everything, allowing everyone to truly try everything. The menu consists of small servings of sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, salads, sweets, and more. There are mini sandwiches, such as the roasted tomato, olive spread, feta, and spinach ($4), and sliders such as the beef, bleu cheese, and arugula ($5). Choose from a variety of inherently sharable pizzas such as the hummus, kalamata olive, and red onion ($6), or snack on bite-sized tortellini bites ($4), papas rellenas ($5), or truffle fries with parmesan ($5). Accompany your lightly filling meal with a few stimulating beverages from the bar. Sip on red and white wine by the glass ($6–$8), local and micro-brews by the pint ($5–$12), and sake by the bottle ($36), as well as a variety of other beverages, both alcoholic and non.