While Miami is known for its Floribbean cuisine, there are plenty of excellent Italian restaurants all over town. Many are located in romantic, old places with lovely patios that evoke an evening on the coast of Italy.
Here’s our list of the Top 10 Italian Restaurants in Miami:
1) Café Abbracci
Another up-market choice for movers and shakers, Café Abbracci in Coral Gables features the cuisine of Lombardy. The dark wood dining room has hosted plenty of celebrities. Grilled seafood, risottos, and pastas like lobster ravioli in rose sauce compete with the house-special grilled veal chop. You’ll be able to find the perfect accompaniment on the wine list. When it’s in season, don’t miss the soft shell crab.
2) Café Prima Pasta
The line usually stretches out the door at this unassuming place where almost everything is made on site. Home-made pastas like crab ravioli or squid ink linguini in lobster sauce, and impeccably fresh seafood are the big draws here. With its old photos, planked floors, soft lighting, and an outdoor patio, this affordable trattoria is low key but romantic. The early-bird special is an excellent deal for those who don’t mind dining before 6PM.
3) Café Ragazzi
Although this café north of Miami Beach in Surfside is no longer family owned, it still has the same chef and wait staff. It’s packed on weekends with local diners craving pasta puttanesca, grilled salmon with radicchio, and the best osso buco in town. Sauteed snapper with lemons and veal scallops are marvels of exquisite simplicity. Service is friendly and informed, and the home-made desserts are delicious too.
4) Casa Tua
When the weather begs for al fresco dining, head for Casa Tua, which is located in a Mediterranean-style villa from the 1920s. Tables on the garden terrace are the most desirable, but the interior dining rooms are also lovely. The menu runs the gamut from a simple pappardelle with lamb ragu to the sophisticated boneless quail in black truffle sauce. A good wine list with lots of Italian selections is the final piece for a memorable, expensive night out.
Opened in 1993 by a husband and wife team who are committed to organic food, this South Beach favorite is still going strong. It’s a good choice for vegetarians with starters like asparagus flan with provola cheese, and a wonderful selection of pastas and risottos. The menu changes with the seasons to ensure that every dish is the best it can be. With a gurgling fountain, the back dining room is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner for two.
6) Osteria del Teatro
This 50-seat South Beach hot spot is located beneath a trendy club on Washington Avenue. The evening’s specials — which might include seafood and vegetables in parchment, scallop and crab ravioli, or salmon in a shitake sauce – are the way to go. Service is as good as it should be at these prices. Save room for one of the delectable home-made desserts.
7) Perricone’s Marketplace & Café
Located in downtown Mary Brickell Village, Perricone’s is convenient to most downtown Miami hotels. It’s also a gourmet market with imported Italian goodies. At lunch time, Perricone’s serves some of the best sandwiches in Miami, including eggplant and meatball parmigiana, and a Sicilan sandwich with the works. At night, there are nearly a dozen salads, as many pasta selections, and grilled steaks, fish, and chicken.
Excellent Northen Italian cuisine and a stellar, 300-variety wine list draw celebrities and affluent locals to Quattro on trendy Lincoln Road. The chefs here – identical twins from Piemonte – import most of their ingredients from Italy, so the cooking here is very authentic. With huge mirrors, chandeliers, and terrazzo floors, the dining room and bar sleek and stylish. There are also a few tables outside.
9) Romeo’s Café
Romeo Majano not only runs the kitchen here, he also manages to greet most of his guests personally. Since there are only nine tables, it’s not that ambitious a task, but it does mean that reservations are a must. There’s no real menu – Romeo will ask your likes and dislikes and then prepare something to order. The six-course, prix fixe is $75 at dinner, and several of the dishes will be personalized just for you. There’s plenty of excellent wine to pair with Romeo‘s excellent Italian food.
A little off the beaten path in a Sunny Isles strip mall, Timo’s is worth the drive or cab ride. Roasted meats, artichokes, and excellent pizzas are pulled from the wood-burning oven bursting with flavor. Timo’s pedigree is top notch. The owners and chef came from Miami favorites Norman’s and Mark’s South Beach. Start with a small plate of grilled quail with roasted garlic, warm mushroom salad, and pinot noir. Then try branzino with basil, asparagus, and lemon confit. The cozy dining room is always packed.
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Casa Tua Italian restaurant, Miami Image Flickr: P Keigan