Thursday, September 23, 2021
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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

Much has changed since the days hotel bars were just a waystation for jet-lagged, bleary-eyed travelers. Players in hospitality are focusing more than ever on turning their onsite watering holes into buzzed-about hubs for locals and visitors alike. From speakeasy-style drinking dens, like The Blind Barber at Nautilus by Arlo, to gilded havens that harken to a glitzy past, like Le Sirenous at Four Season Hotel at The Surf Club, these Miami hotel bars are shaking up the scene with the first-class service, prime people-watching, and plenty of personality.  

Minnow Bar at Kimpton Angler’s Hotel

If you love gin, head to Minnow Bar at the reimagined Kimpton Angler’s Hotel (also home to Seawell Fish n’ Oyster). The menu here spotlights herb-infused craft cocktails made to complement unique gins from around the world. The atmosphere is great, too — sip a martini inside at the intimate counter, or enjoy a G&T al fresco in the bar’s breezy outdoor terrace. Not the biggest fan of gin? Don’t worry. The talented staff can shake up something delicious with pisco, cachaca, or white rum as a base, and there’s a great wine and beer list, too. 

660 Washington Ave, Miami Beach

Boulud Sud at JW Marriott

Beloved by Brickellites for its great daily happy hour deals, the bar and lounge at Boulud Sud inside the JW Marriott is perfect if wine is your thing. The selection sources heavily from the Mediterranean (though you’ll find some French, South American and domestic offerings). We especially love their Greek and Middle Eastern wine selection, which includes Assyrtiko from Santorini, Agiorgitiko from Nemea, and rose from Lebanon — all available by the glass and served with a side of gorgeous views.

255 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami

Zucca at Hotel Place St. Michel

Hotel St. Michel is one of Coral Gable’s best-kept secrets. A true hidden gem with nearly a century of history behind it, Hotel Place St. Michel is the best place to go if you’re looking for Old World charm in the heart of South Florida. The bar here is located inside the hotel’s acclaimed Zucca Ristorante and offers a great selection of light bites, charcuterie, global wines, and Italian-inspired craft cocktails.

162 Alcazar Avenue, Coral Gables

The Biltmore Bar

The Biltmore Bar is famous for a number of things — it’s where you’ll find the best Vesper martini in Miami and one of the city’s most extensive collections of vintage liquor and cognac (the hotel even keeps a cognac expert on staff to help guests navigate the menu). And with its dark wood paneling, gleaming marble floors, and dim golden lighting, it’s the perfect place to unwind like it’s 1926. Get there between 5 and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and you’ll enjoy half-off select drinks. Premium cigars are also available to smoke in the bar’s loggia.

1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables

Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar at Four Seasons Hotel Surf Club

For those who like to sip champagne with a heady dose of glamor, there’s no place like Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar at Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club — the first U.S. outpost of the iconic brand in Positano. The bar seems to exist between two worlds; housed in a ballroom where legends like Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra once danced, with white wooden windows thrown open to reveal the Atlantic Ocean, a crowd that’s always smartly dressed, and white-jacketed bartenders that serve the greatest negronis in the country, Le Sirenuse keeps you wondering if you’re truly in Miami, or if you’ve fallen through the rabbit hole and emerged somewhere on the Amalfi Coast. 

9101 Collins Avenue, Surfside

Edge Steak & Bar at Four Seasons Miami

Also popular among downtown Miami and Brickell’s professional scene, Edge Steak & Bar at Four Seasons Miami checks all the boxes. It has a great selection of bites, like chorizo and cheddar croquetas, spiced lamb meatballs, spiced onion rings, and foie gras and truffle bonbons. The craft cocktails are top-notch, blended with housemade syrups and infused spirits (you can’t leave without trying the Double Cask Auld Fashioned). The wine list is well-rounded and robust. And during happy hour, which happens on weekdays from 4-7 p.m., you can enjoy it all at a discount.

1435 Brickell Avenue, Miami

Blind Barber at Nautilus by Arlo

Speakeasy-style bars have become as commonplace in Miami as vape counters and exotic car rental shops. But Blind Barber at Nautilus by Arlo has managed to maintain ]a high cool factor with its unique brand story, its barbershop-meets-bar concept, and its delicious drinks. Cocktails here are creative, pairing flavors like hibiscus-infused vodka with sparkling wine, sage, and grenadine, or reposado tequila with Campari, sweet vermouth and cacao nibs. And while there’s a solid menu of small bites to choose from, the real gem here is the bar’s selection of artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches (there are five varieties in total).

1825 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach