For $15, today's Groupon gets you $30 worth of authentic Italian cuisine and drinks at Casa Toscana Ristorante. Located in the Upper East Side of Miami, not far from Tuscany, this bona fide ristorante Italiano features pastas from scratch, a majestic wine wall, and silverware. The quaint and cozy eatery sets the mood to recreate the infamous Lady and the Tramp pasta-cooking scene. You can use your Groupon toward a romantic dinner or Sunday brunch (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and bask in the free parking.
The dinner menu is traditional Italian, featuring appetizers, salads, soups, pastas, and meat dishes. A varying cast of daily specials offers some surprise options to the restaurant's surefire staples. Start with a tower of grilled eggplants, balsamic tomato, sautéed greens, and Gorgonzola cheese ($12), or spinach parmesan fritters with spicy tomato sauce ($12). Toss in a salad, such as the arugula, shaved parmesan, and walnuts with shallots vinaigrette ($10).
Moderately priced pasta dishes have recipes that make them worth a chocolate bar dipped in gold. Offerings feature wheat spaghetti with littleneck clams, fresh tomatoes, and spicy garlic sauce ($16), gnocchi with creamy basil pesto sauce and shaved parmesan ($14), or pappardelle with mini veal meatballs in fresh tomato and basil sauce ($16). Meatier options include Tuscan fried chicken with roasted eggplants ($20), grilled beef steak prepared Tuscan-style ($26), and baby lamb ossobuco in red wine tomato reduction with roasted fennel, carrots, and greens, served with creamy parmesan polenta ($25).
Much like the rich world presented in the film Ratatouille, the cuisine is only the half of the dining experience. Recognized by the Miami New Times as Miami's Best Wine List, the red and white liquid candy at Casa Toscana is hardly a list at all. Instead, wines are presented in a visual wall harmoniously arranged and primed for picking. Sans-list gives diners the chance to peruse the actual bottles and labels. Of course, someone—often the restaurant's leading lady, chef-owner-Tuscany-native Sandra Stefani—will help you with pairing tips and recommendations. Stefani handpicked the humble but impressive lineup from Italy and around the world and is the mastermind behind the restaurant's yummy brunch menu, featuring salads, seafood, pastas, frittatas, eggs and more.
The Miami New Times awarded Casa Toscana Best Wine List in Miami in 2009:
- This cozy Upper East Side Italian restaurant stocks an enviable selection of mid-price Italian and New World wines, all chosen with care by chef/owner Sandra Stefani. Browse the handsomely displayed wine wall with labels and prices clearly delineated, or consult the chef herself, who will kindly pair the appropriate quaff with her soulful Italian cooking. Depending on what you order, you could be drinking a $28 Argentine Malbec or a $36 white from Tuscany. Either way, it will match the rustic fare and atmosphere without impoverishing you, a refreshing change from the city's usual wine lists. And even better, there's not a stuffy "list" here. Just a wall. – Miami New Times
- Great Place to have original Northern Italian food with a touch of innovation. Very moderate prices , and the wine selection and prices is every wine lover's dream!! – luca2100, Citysearch
- Excellent Italian food all made from scratch! Perfect date spot because its cozy at home atmosphere and excellent food. The most underrated place in the Biscayne area. – Franky A., Yelp
Pasta From Scratch
Diners who have only experienced dry, boxed pasta or premade pastas from their grocer’s refrigerators are in for a real treat at Casa Toscana. Pasta made from scratch is a complex, multi-stage process where a lot can go wrong before it all goes deliciously right. What are just some of the many steps that bring homemade pasta to your plate?
- Twisting individual rotini into the soil to plant pasta trees
- Pounding air bubbles out of dough by getting plumber brothers to jump on it
- Individually dehydrating wheels of Parmesan cheese into particle form
- Intermittently racing home to stir sauce while chauffeuring a paranoid Ray Liotta on a series of substance-fueled errands
- Coming over here and giving your Nonna Sophia a great big hug
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