Relish the Risotto at Miami's Remarkable Italian Restaurants
By Priscilla Blossom
Miami Local Expert
Do you love Italian food? We do too, and that's why we dedicate ourselves to finding the best places to enjoy Italian cuisine in Miami. We've diligently scouted out the top eateries, and we've listened to our readers and their reviews of Miami restaurants.
We share the places that get great buzz, like Romeo's Cafe, whose reputation as a place where you can get a meal catered exactly to your specifications makes it a must-try restaurant.
We also like to showcase the ones that have proven themselves over time, like Quattro Gastronomia Italiana, whose been in the business nearly a decade, providing impeccable dishes and fine wines to locals and celebs alike.
We even point out good neighborhoods for Italian restaurants in Miami - South Beach, for instance, which is home to some of the best Italian fare in town thank to gourmet restaurants like Casa Tua. Downtown Miami's La Loggia and Cipriani also make the area high on our list of neighborhoods to check out.
Still, we also let you know about great Italian restaurants in less expected places, like Ana Capri, who have locations in Pinecrest, Coral Gables, and Miami Springs. When the craving hits, we'll make sure you get your fix!
10 Cipriani Downtown Miami
Cipriani Downtown Miami is high-fashion Italian dining in many ways, from the clientele wearing designer labels to the contemporary cuisine to the space, designed in blue and white by Florentine architect Michele Bonan. Located on the waterfront, the two-level, indoor-outdoor restaurant features Murano glass chandeliers, floor-to-ceiling windows and decorative elements inspired by luxury yachts and ocean liners. A sibling to the famed Ciprianis worldwide and the original Harry's Bar in Venice, the menu offers Italian luxuries of all kinds: aged Praga ham, homemade ravioli and tortellini, langoustines served scampi-style, and of course Champagne bowls filled with the famed Bellinis, comprising peach puree and Prosecco, that were invented at Harry's. Second-generation hosts Maggio and Ignazio ensure that guests also have a party of a time at the more intimate Cipriani Bar. ((786) 329-4090)
9 Caffe Abbracci
Be pampered at this fine Italian eatery, where the attentive staff treats each guest like family. The name of the restaurant is Italian for "hugs," and you'll feel the warmth and care that goes into each dish. High-profile locals and visiting celebrities can often be found here, and people watching is always fascinating in the colorful, upscale dining room. Start by selecting a wine from the lengthy list, followed by antipasti of the highest quality. Then choose among simple grilled seafood dishes, creamy risotto and fresh pastas accented with Italian herbs. Fun, flavor, and friendliness combine here to great effect. (305-441-0700)
8 Café Ragazzi
Friendly confines and first-rate service are the trademarks of this unpretentious Italian eatery, located north of Miami Beach. Start off your meal with one of their irresistible appetizers: from steamed mussels to carpaccio, you can't choose unwisely. Then titillate your taste buds with the likes of breaded veal scallopine, grilled salmon with radicchio and rosemary, garlicky penne putanesca, and what many regard as the area's top osso bucco. Of course, you'd be remiss not to save room for one of their homemade desserts...besides, is it really ever a good idea to pass on tiramisu? Since the secret is out on this family-owned restaurant, you can expect to wait for a table, especially on weekends. Reservations suggested for a party of 3 or more. (305-866-4495)
7 Romeo's Cafe
Romeo Majano's forte is homestyle Northern Italian cuisine, and it's a solemn truth that he never fails to impress. After being seated in the cozy dining room, patrons are greeted in Old Country style by Chef Majano. He converses with them, gets to know their tastes and preferences, finds out if they have any allergies or food restrictions, and then creatively fashions a three-course lunch or six-course dinner tailored to each diner's tastes. The result is terrific, personalized food and a relationship with the chef that regulars find endearing. Prix fixe menu is $45 for lunch and $90 for dinner. (305-859-2228)
6 La Loggia
Located in the heart of Downtown Miami, this Italian gem is popular with those who do business at the main courthouse as well as those who have business there. La Loggia draws favor for its terrific, home-style pasta dishes and its oft-packed happy hour (one of the only ones on Flagler Street). The beautiful waitstaff darts to and fro, making sure that each table is enjoying its hearty Northern Italian fare. La Loggia's owners know that specials keep the locals coming in and they offer them daily, including salads, pastas, and even desserts of the day. It'll probably take you a few minutes to read through their menus and even longer to make a decision, but that's okay. You can always come back. (305-373-4800)
5 Bella Luna
Housed in Aventura mall, this Italian dining room provides a convenient break for shoppers, but is also worthy of an evening out. Dinner specials might include lobster Fradiavlo (mussels, clams, and shrimp) with pasta and marinara sauce, or grilled lamb chops with porcini and Barolo wine sauce. You may also choose among several pizzas (all baked in a wood-burning oven), various salads, risottos (the tre funghi and the primavera are both delightful), and over 15 tempting pastas. Or if you're just popping by for a quick lunch, they've also got tasty and highly portable paninis. Finally, if the weather allows, enjoy your meal on the patio. (305-792-9330)
4 Casa Tua
Located in an Italian-style villa, this restaurant's distinguishable only by an open gate and diners seated at elegant outdoor tables. You won't find any signage outside and you might think you're walking into some millionaire's home on South Beach but you'll be greeted shortly by one of their amicable staff members. Start off with bay scallops topped with fresh herbs and olive oil or red wine-marinated beef carpaccio before progressing to an adventurous selection of pastas such as pumpkin and hazelnut ravioli or lobster and artichoke lasagna. Tantalizing main dish offerings include veal marinated in lime juice, seared beef tenderloin with foie gras, and scaloppine with wild mushrooms. After dinner, cleanse your palate with frozen champagne soup and fresh fruit salad. (305-673-1010)
3 Quattro Gastronomia Italiana
You never know who you might run into at Quattro -- beautiful folks like Jessica Alba and Paris Hilton have visited this stylish dining room. Artful creations, inspired by the cuisine of Northern Italy, include delicious numbers like house-made Fontina and Tallegio ravioli drizzled with white truffle oil or the basil gnocci with cherry tomatoes and Burrata cheese sauce. If that doesn't get your mouth watering, how about the three inch veal ossobucco braised with gremolata and saffron risotto? Patrons may choose from 300 varieties of Italian wine to enjoy with their meal, or they may choose to indulge in conversation and cocktails at the striking marble-topped bar. (305-531-4833)
2 MC Kitchen
Named for renowned chef Dena Marino and her partner, Brandy Coletta, MC Kitchen improves the Design District one restaurant at a time. With a mod dining room, open showcase kitchen and communal bar that extends outside the restaurant into the building's hallway, the 145-seat eatery offers such delicacies as whipped squash-filled burrata; artichoke bruschetta topped with a barely-poached egg; pumpkin tortelloni with rabbit ragout; and braised Florida grouper adorned with bright gems of broccoli raab, Calabrese sausage and white clams. Marino's savory menu changes according to the seasonal markets, however, so don't become fixated on one dish (unless it's her house-made mozzarella). But do expect everything you try to be delish. (305.456.9948)
1 Anacapri Italian Restaurant
Even as modern, fusion cuisine and other more exotic dining options gain popularity, there will always be a place for traditional Italian-American restaurants like Anacapri. The menu isn't anything fancy, but it's full of the kind of unforgettable, simple dishes that keep regulars coming back. The vivid red tomato sauce ensures that everything from the lasagna to the manicotti and the veal Parmesan is full of flavor, and most dishes are topped with a generous portion of melted cheese. Fresh salads and a nice wine list enhance the meal. The owner, Joe, will likely come by your table to make sure everything is satisfactory. (305-232-8001)
About Priscilla Blossom
Pris Blossom is a freelance writer and feminist mama with a love for travel, writing, music, film, craft beer, yoga, museums, cultural anthropology, and her awesome kid.
She spent the bulk of the past decade taking trips on a whim, falling in love with and in such places as New York City, New Orleans, and a large portion of Nicaragua.
In 2011, she took off on her own and traveled around the U.S. via bus, bunking with strangers thanks to the power of CouchSurfing. She is currently writing a novel about this.
Read her words at PrisBlossom.com.
Read more about Priscilla Blossom here.