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Italian restaurants are a dime a dozen in Miami. It’s impossible to go a few blocks without running into one. It takes a quality eatery to stand out amidst the crowd – and Zucca does so easily with fantastic fare and impeccable attention to detail. 

There are many reasons to fall in love with Zucca, and first and foremost is the service. From the moment you sit down, you know you’re in for a treat. Servers are knowledgeable and approachable, rattling off answers to your questions without hesitation; they know the menu front to back, and their recommendations – especially for wine – warrant consideration. 

Such a level of service is impressive, especially considering the size of the place. Despite having seating for over 100 guests, this eatery inside Hotel St. Michel feels intimate thanks to the perfectly trained staff. It’s an elegant and romantic ambiance for sure: We saw our fair share of couples there during our Wednesday night visit. That said, it shouldn’t be relegated to your date night or special occasion list, as prices are reasonable for the quality. You can eat like royalty without breaking the bank. 

Although if you did decide to splurge, we wouldn’t stop you: The food is worth every penny. Take the salumi, prosciutti and formaggi options, for instance. Even if you are not the meat and cheese board type, the selections at Zucca will likely make you reconsider. Same for items like the soups and salads, which can often be afterthoughts on a menu. Not here: Options like the Maine lobster salad and fresh kale salad deserve part of the limelight, too.

For antipasti, there’s no shortage of delicious bites – and there’s no wrong choice either. Actually, there is one: not ordering the zucchini blossoms. They have their own section on the menu for a reason, and the reason is they’re that good. If it’s your first time, consider getting the standard ones with mozzarella; they’re a crowd favorite, and you’ll see why at first bite. There’s also an option with ricotta cheese and lemon zest, and depending on the night, other fillings might be an evening special.

While the zucchini blossoms are a must, they’re only one of the many starters offered. Another highlight is the daily crudo, a light and refreshing dish that might be the way to go if you’re ordering a hefty main … and the mains are serious business. Case in point: the pastas. All the classics are here, like spaghetti, tagliatelle, gnocchi, ravioli, sedanini … the list goes on. They’re dishes you’re familiar with – Zucca doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Instead, it refines it. You might have had sedanini before, but it’s likely you haven’t had it this good. 

Zucca’s sedandini

If you aren’t in the mood for pasta, the wait staff will likely mention the Chilean sea bass, another best-seller. Listen to your server: the pan-seared fish comes atop “venere” black rice and is gorgeous to look at (and a delight to eat). At $46, it’s definitely one of the more expensive dishes at Zucca, but it’s not hard to see why. The restaurant also offers lamb chops, baby chicken, ossobuco and an assortment of other proteins. Desserts are equally diverse, with both light and decadent selections including tiramisu, apple tarte and sorbet. 

In a sea of Italian restaurants, Zucca stands above the rest. You’re not just enjoying lunch or dinner here – it’s a culinary journey through Italy. And this is one adventure you don’t want to miss.

By Geoffrey Anderson Jr., a contributing writer

Black and white movies featuring some of the most iconic legends in show biz, drinks being poured in Gatsby-esque coupe glasses and delicious food with every turn you take. This is the charm of the 20th Century. This is also the charm of Osteria Del Teatro {1200 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.538.7850}, Miami’s oldest and award-winning Italian restaurant, situated in the boutique Marlin Hotel in the Art Deco district of South Beach.

Providing the perfect blend of atmosphere, taste and tradition, the old-world comfort combined with new Miami style is what has contributed to the restaurant’s success for more than 30 years, says long-time owner Gilbert Gonzalez. Adding to that, the success and reputation of Osteria Del Teatro is also due to consistency. How do you achieve consistency? A combination of quality, carefully chosen, fresh ingredients, as well as an experienced waitstaff and kitchen team who have been dedicated to making customers feel like family for more than three decades.

Gilbert Gonzalez, owner of Osteria Del Teatro

As you walk through the doors, you’re immediately immersed in a decade where good food, drinks, and jazz music are at the center of a fabulous time. The exposed brick walls, vintage Edison bulbs, and tufted dark leather booths set the scene for a trendy culinary experience for visitors and locals alike.

A view from the top of main dining

Start your night in the lounge with a specialty cocktail such as the Sophia Loren or a wine from “Gilbert’s Selection,” an extensive hand-selected list of reds and whites from Italy and other regions around the world.

Cocktail lounge of Osteria Del Teatro

When it comes to the fare, the menu offers northern Italian dishes influenced from the Bergamo region. After lavish drinks in the lounge, head to your table in the dining room where your waiter will not only suggest the chef specials, but even give insight on some of the best “off-the-menu” dishes that will leave you saying, “wow!”

To start, try one of the “off-the-menu” favorites among regulars, which is the avocado and mango salad with black truffle vinaigrette. And if you’re a bread lover, we can’t fail to mention the homemade bread served on the side—for your dipping pleasure!

Salmone Bruschetta

For your main course, whether you’re a pasta, seafood, or meat lover, Osteria Del Teatro caters to everyone. The homemade pastas are, in fact, a highlight on the menu offering both traditional and specialty pastas. The Casonsei alla Bergamasca is a handmade bow-tie candy shaped ravioli with roasted veal stuffing, Parmesan cheese, and crispy pancetta in a brown-butter sage sauce. The Agnolotti al pesto is pasta infused with ricotta and spinach and topped with a creamy pesto sauce. Or try the Pappardelle porcini made with pappardelle pasta and porcini mushrooms topped with a pink vodka sauce.

Spaghetti Puttanesca

The menu is expansive, and if you’re looking for a seafood treat, you’ll find both locally caught and imported options. However, another favorite “off-the-menu” item is the South African Black Tiger Shrimp marinated in olive oil and lemon then steamed and grilled in the shell and served with French green beans and scalloped potatoes. While it’s rare to find, it’s delicious to eat, and Gonzalez says they’ll serve it as long as they can get it. Heading into dessert, grab a cappuccino to pair with their classic tiramisù, the flourless chocolate cake, the vanilla bean créme brûlée, or the caramelized apple torte. Like the name of the restaurant, Osteria Del Teatro, your dining experience is bound to be a production, and one you won’t be able to stop talking about for days following.

By Loren Gutentag, contributing writer

Sardinia Enoteca

You know Ocean Drive. You know Lincoln Road. You even know South of Fifth. But there’s one area of South Beach that locals have been trying to keep secret for over a decade: Sunset Harbour. Just minutes from the more touristy areas of SoBe, this sophisticated strip facing the bay is made up of quaint boutiques, fitness studios, a coffee shop, and a handful of elegant yet unpretentious dining establishments. One of these restaurants, in particular, stands out in our minds: Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante {1801 Purdy Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.531.2228}.

Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante

Opened in 2006, this cozy and comfortable restaurant on the corner of Purdy Avenue and 18th Street fits perfectly into the vibe of this locals-in-the-know neighborhood.

Over the years, Sardinia has earned itself a well-deserved reputation for having one of the best wine selections in Miami. In fact, wine bottles are the focal point of the restaurant’s décor, taking up every spot on the wooden wine racks along the walls, with even more onsite in the temperature-controlled cellar.

Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante

But Sardinia’s emphasis on wine certainly does not take away from its cuisine. The kitchen is helmed by Sardinian-born Chef Pietro Vardeu, a self-taught culinary mastermind who has worked in kitchens of well-known chefs and restaurateurs including Pino Luongo. His menu showcases the rustic cuisine of his native Sardinia (think: outstanding pizzas and pastas—simple yet full of flavor), in addition to some more adventurous dishes.

Representing DiningOut has its perks, and we were able to sample the restaurant’s eight-course tasting menu, which included:

Sardinia Enoteca RistoranteFregoletta
Sardinian couscous, baby clams, and saffron broth

Sardinia Enoteca RistoranteAnimelle
Veal sweetbreads, pancetta, sage, and Brussels sprouts

Sardinia Enoteca RistorantePolpettine
Veal meatballs and braised fennel

Sardinia Enoteca RistoranteOrecchiette
Boar sausages, rapini pesto, and pine nuts

Sardinia Enoteca RistoranteSpaghetti
Bottarga di muggine

Rabbit, Brussels sprouts, scallions, pancetta, and olives

IMG_2048Diver’s Scallops
Over pesto fregola and crispy greens

IMG_2083Oh, and lets not forget the desserts, which included a panna cotta and chocolate mousse.

The standouts of the evening were the meatballs (simple, yet delightful) and the rabbit, which, in our experience, is a very difficult dish to perfect.

The service, too, was outstanding. Every course was perfectly timed and gracefully presented—colorful masterpieces oozing delicate aromas enough to make even the diners next to us drool in envy. Next time, they say, they’ll have to try the tasting menu.

Sorry, locals, but your secret’s out.

By Sherri Balefsky | Online Editor

Quattro Miami

Photo by Gary James

When you think of South Beach’s Lincoln Road, most likely you think crowds of tourists, bustling outdoor eateries, endless shopping opportunities, and street performers. But lo and behold, there exists a quiet, authentic Italian restaurant right in the middle of the action: Quattro Gastronomia Italiana {1014 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; 305.531.4833}.

Since summer 2006, this KNR Restaurant Group restaurant has been wowing locals and visitors alike with its decadent Northern Italian cuisine, excellent wines, and inviting ambience.

Inside, the romantic space, which was designed by New York-based Studio A Design, feels worlds away from the busy pedestrian-only thoroughfare that it faces. Warm browns and deep pine greens are offset by the glimmering custom Murano glass chandeliers overhead. The focal point of the space is a Calacatta marble bar that’s surrounded by the sleek two-story wine cellar that showcases the hundreds of award-winning wines on offer. Even Quattro’s outdoor tables that line the sidewalk seem more intimate than their neighbors, as though they were plucked from a cozy Italian café and dropped straight into the South Florida sunshine.

Quattro Miami

The menu reflects this unassuming atmosphere: extensive, but not overwhelming. Overseen by Executive Chef Alex Portillo, this is Italian cuisine at its finest, with seasonal dishes that reflect the Piedmonte region of Italy, which is known for its fine cheeses, hearty local game dishes, and exotic white truffle mushrooms. In fact, the mushrooms are such an important ingredient that during truffle season (mid-October through December), the restaurant offers a special white truffle menu.

Quattro Melanzane

Parmigiana di Melanzane in Forma

We started with the Burrata, Pomodori, e Basilico, a gooey mozzarella and tomato dish; and the Parmigiana di Melanzane in Forma, a melt-in-your-mouth, baked eggplant covered in melted mozzarella and tomato sauce. Both appetizers were excellent, and we licked the plates clean. (What was leftover, we unabashedly sopped up with the oven-fresh bread that was brought to the table.)

Quattro Miami

Paccheri di Gragnano con Zucchine e Gamberi

Of course, we had to try the pastas, which are made in-house daily in an imported La Monferrina machine, a pasta-making device that is rarely found in the U.S. Both the Preparazione Casalinga dei Ravioli di Casa Savoia Tartufati (fontina and Taleggio cheese ravioli drizzled with white-truffle flavor) and Paccheri di Gragnano con Zucchine e Gamberi (paccheri di Gragnano with zucchini and shrimp) were exquisitely rich in flavor, and certainly filling enough to be a meal in and of themselves.

Though we made our primi piatti our main course, our waiter informed us that the seafood here is top-notch, and recommended that next time we try the Branzino Intero in Crosta di Sale Marino (Mediterranean sea bass baked in salt crust with sautéed vegetables). He also recommended the Scaloppine di Vitello al Limone (seared veal scallopini with lemon sauce, broccoli, and rosemary potatoes).

Quattro Miami

Scaloppine di Vitello al Limone

We couldn’t resist having a look at the dessert menu, and settled on the Bomboloni della Casa (made-to-order Italian doughnuts filled with vanilla custard, Nutella, and apricot jelly) and the Semifreddo al Gianduja (chocolate hazelnut semifreddo, torrone gelato, and caramelized bananas).

The verdict? The next time you find yourself strolling Lincoln Road, be sure to stop in at Quattro Gastronomia Italiana. You won’t be disappointed.

By Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

Made in Italy Gourmet

No plans for tonight? Consider the following:

All summer long, Wynwood’s new Italian restaurant and market Made in Italy Gourmet {10 Northeast 27th Street, Miami; 786.360.5671} presents “Summer Wine Nights,” a unique Thursday night wine dinner series presented by chefs Cristian Zappelletto and Marco Baruffaldi. The highlight of the series is TONIGHT, July 16, at 7:30pm, featuring the breathtaking island of Sicily and wine pairings that will elevate the experience with each bite! Tickets for the four-course wine dinner and two wine pairings are available for purchase at Made in Italy Gourmet at $55 (plus tax and gratuity). Call the restaurant to reserve your table NOW.


Zuppa di Ceci & Gamberi
Chick pea and shrimp soup

Involtini di Salmone e Caprino
Rolled salmon carpaccio filled with goat cheese
Paired with Principi di Butera Chardonnay

Ravioli di Speck & Fontina alla Crema di Funghi
Homemade ravioli filled with speck and fontina cheese served in a cream of mushrooms sauce
Paired with Principi di Butera Merlot

Amaretto & Goccie di Cioccolata
Amaretto cookies and chocolate-chip cake

Moye MiamiBy Sherri Balefsky | Online Editor

Mary Brickell Village has no shortage of great restaurants, but if you head two blocks northwest to the less foot-trafficked First Avenue, you’ll find one of the newest additions to the neighborhood: Moyé {829 Southwest First Avenue, Brickell; 305.372.5168}.

Moye MiamiThis quaint Italian eatery helmed by Owner Tony Gallo and Owner/Chef Pietro Vardeu keeps a modest street-front, but the food and service are anything but. Start off with the Polpette meatballs or the Parmigiana (zucchini Parm with tomato, basil, and mozzarella), then order one of the signature simple yet flavorful pastas, such as the Penne with beef ragu and stracciatella cheese, the Spaghetti with fresh seafood, or the homemade Lasagna, which is delivered to your table bubbling hot still in its pan.

moye lasagne

And don’t forget their extensive wine list, which features mostly Italian reds and whites sprinkled with some selections from Argentina, Napa Valley, and beyond.

Moyé, which translates to “this is the time,” currently has six locations throughout Italy in both Milan and Florence. And you know if their dishes have managed to impress Italians, then they must be doing something very right.