Tag Archives: Italian cuisine

Davio's Atlanta

New Summer Menu at Davio’s Atlanta

This summer check out new seasonal offerings at Davio’s in Atlanta. The northern Italian steakhouse located at Phipps Plaza offers a variety of handmade pastas, steaks and seafood.

I recently had the chance to taste some of the new dishes as well as perennial favorites at a dinner with owner Steve DiFillippo.

Potato Gnocchi Bolognese, with braised veal, beef and pork in tomato sauce
Potato Gnocchi Bolognese, with braised veal, beef and pork in tomato sauce

The Hand-Rolled Potato Gnocchi is light and just the right texture, here served in a bolognese sauce. Pictured in the featured image at the top of the article is the standout Ricotta-Truffle Caramelle, candy-shaped pasta served with crackling mushrooms and fennel pollen in a butter sauce.

Tuna Tartare with crispy shrimp, avocado cream and fish roe
Tuna Tartare with crispy shrimp, avocado cream and fish roe

Over the course of the evening, Steve shared a history of the Italian restaurant which is now celebrating its 30th year.

Crispy Chicken Livers with port balsamic glaze, glass spinach and toasted pine nuts
Crispy Chicken Livers with port balsamic glaze, glass spinach and toasted pine nuts

In May 1985 Steve purchased a locally-owned restaurant on Newbury Street in Boston. He revamped the interior, menu and wine list, but kept the name — Davio’s.

Seared East Halibut with white asparagus and lobster risotto
Seared East Halibut with white asparagus and lobster risotto

Since then the original location has moved, and Davio’s has expanded — with three additional locations in Massachusetts, and one in Philadelphia, Manhattan and Atlanta. Look for Davio’s to head west next, with a restaurant being planned for Los Angeles.

Colorado Rack of Lamb with sunchokes, summer pea purée and white balsamic gastrique
Colorado Rack of Lamb with sunchokes, summer pea purée and white balsamic gastrique

Steve has also published a book, It’s All About the Guest. In it he shares engaging stories of how he became successful in the restaurant industry, along with 12 signature Davio’s recipes. Click here to purchase a signed copy.

Panna Cotta with Prosecco macerated strawberries and peanut brittle
Panna Cotta with Prosecco macerated strawberries and peanut brittle

Davio’s is open daily for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

Davio’s Atlanta, Phipps Plaza, 3500 Peachtree Road, Atlanta 30326. 404.844.4810, davios.com/atl

Fry’s St. Cecilia to Open January 13

The newest restaurant from Chef Ford Fry is set to open on January 13th. St. Cecilia, located at the corner of Peachtree and Lenox Roads in Buckhead, will feature a menu inspired by northern Italian coastal flavors.

St CeciliaThe name pays tribute to the patron saint of music (and Fry’s love of music), as well as the sirens of Greek mythology who lured in mariners.

The menu created by Fry and executive chef Brian Horn draws from the cuisine of the southern European coast.

“When we started creating dishes for St. Cecilia, we were inspired by the cooking techniques used in the area of Genoa, Italy, the Ligurian coast, the day to day fishing, home-style pasta making – nothing too fancy, just really simple,” said Fry.

Dishes include salt cod beignets; bucatini with Jonah crab, Serrano chili and garlicky crumbs; fluke crudo with blood orange, pink grapefruit, Castelvetrano olive and EVOO; and veal rib chop with cipollini onions, mushroom, pancetta and Madeira.

The dessert menu created by pastry chef Chrysta Poulos is also inspired by Italy, with treats like the panini di gelato, an ice cream sandwich with pizzelle cookies; bomboloni doughnuts filled with housemade ricotta; and zabaglione gelato.

To complement the food, there are European-inspired aperitifs, craft cocktails and a 200-bottle wine list.

For those looking for a post-work or pre-dinner drink, there is a spacious bar and cocktail lounge.

St. Cecilia is located adjacent to the Pinnacle Building. The restaurant will offer dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5pm to 10pm, Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 11pm. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11:30am to 2:30pm. Valet parking is available.

Ford Fry’s other acclaimed restaurants are JCT. Kitchen & Bar, No. 246, The Optimist and King + Duke.

St. Cecilia, 3455 Peachtree Road, Buckhead. (404) 554-9995. stceciliaatl.com

Pasta Making Classes at Cucina Asellina

Ever wanted to know the secrets to making delicious pasta? Now is your chance to learn from the best!

Asellina Pasta Making ClassChef de Cuisine Andrea Montobbio of Cucina Asellina is offering a five-week series of hands-on pasta making classes at the modern Midtown Italian restaurant. During the two-hour class on Wednesday nights Chef Montobbio will provide an introduction to the process, tools and techniques to make handmade pasta.

Starting from scratch with flour, semolina and eggs, guests will learn how to create favorites like spaghetti, fettuccine, ravioli, tagliatelle and gnocchi. It’ll be the most fun you’ll have while getting messy! (Don’t worry, aprons are provided.)

Asellina PastaThe evening includes Italian wines and a three-course meal prepared by Chef Montobbio featuring the pasta created during the class.

The classes kick off on Wednesday, November 13th at 7pm. Each class is limited to eight people, and reservations are necessary. Attendance is $75 per person, or $600 for all eight spots. It’s perfect for a date night or a girls’ or guys’ night out.

Upcoming Wednesday classes and featured pastas include:

November 13th at 7pm — Egg Pasta and Tagliatelle
November 20th at 7pm — Spaghetti and Fettuccine
December 4th at 7pm — Ravioli and Stuffed Pasta
December 11th at 7pm — Potato Gnocchi and Flavored Gnocchi
December 18th at 7pm — Garganelli Bow Tie Pasta and Orecchiette

To reserve your spot call Cucina Asellina at (404) 793-0141. For more information on the restaurant visit www.asellina.com.

Pasta Making Classes at Cucina Asellina, Wednesdays starting on November 13th. 1075 Peachtree Street, Atlanta 30309.

>> Connect:
@AsellinaATL on Twitter

The Varsity

Fly & Dine at ATL: Your Guide to Where to Eat at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport

If your travel plans take you through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, you’ll want to arrive early. With a host of new restaurants, there have never been more delicious dining options for travelers.

The airport offers a true taste of Atlanta, including favorite in-town restaurants like Ecco and landmarks like The Varsity.

Whether you’re leaving town, returning home or just passing through, here are restaurants to check out at the Atlanta airport.

Atrium (Pre-Security)

Atlanta Bread Company
Offering pastries, sandwiches and salads.
Location: Atrium Northeast
Hours: Open 24 hours

Atlanta ChopHouse
Offering fresh cut choice steaks, burgers, drinks and more. Offers meeting rooms for business groups to rent.
Location: Atrium Northeast
Hours: 6am – 10pm

Concourse A

Brioche Dorée
A Parisian-style café bakery specializing in French urban cuisine.
Location: A Centerpoint
Hours: 5:30am – 11pm

Samuel Adams Atlanta Brew House
Get a taste of Samuel Adams’ favorite and seasonal brews, plus a menu that includes burgers, sandwiches and chicken wings.
Location: A 12
Hours: 6am – last flight on A

Concourse B

Cafe Intermezzo
A European-style coffee house offering lunch, dinner, dessert and a variety of coffee beverages.
Location: B Centerpoint
Hours: 6am – 11pm

SweetWater Draft House & Grill
The restaurant from the Atlanta microbrewery offers a range of beers and a menu of American cuisine.
Location: B 11
Hours: 6am – 11pm

Concourse C

Atlanta Bread Company
Offering pastries, sandwiches and salads.
Location: C 30
Hours: 5am – last flight on C

Brews & Blues
Featuring southern style cooking with beef brisket, pork, turkey and chicken sandwiches.
Location: C 6
Hours: 9am – last flight on C

Burgers, BBQ & Brew
A sitdown restaurant offering a spot for a quick bite to eat.
Location: C Centerpoint
Hours: 6am – last flight on C

Quick-service chicken restaurant featuring sandwiches, salads and nuggets.
Location: C 21
Hours: 5:30am – 11pm

Miller Lite Victory Lane
Offering draft beers and traditional bar food.
Location: C 12
Hours: 6am – last flight on C

Moe’s Southwest Grill
Offering fresh burritos, tacos, fajitas and nachos.
Location: C 14
Hours: 6am – last flight on C

The Varsity
One of two airport locations (with Concourse F) of the famous Atlanta drive-in restaurant, offering chili cheese dogs, burgers and Frosted Oranges.
Location: C 21
Hours: 5:30am – 11pm

D Concourse

Grindhouse Killer Burgers
The local burger restaurant offers fresh ground burgers, fries, onion rings and Boozy Shakes.
Location: D 30
Hours: 7am – 10:30pm

E Concourse

One Flew South
An upscale restaurant featuring spirited global fare and sushi, with an extensive wine and cocktail list.
Location: E Centerpoint
Hours: 12pm – 11pm

F Concourse

Ecco Atlanta airportEcco
The airport location of the European-influenced restaurant located in Midtown Atlanta features fresh, seasonal fare.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 10am – 10pm

French Meadow Bakery Café
Offers upscale sandwiches, desserts and more.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 6am – last flight on F

Jekyll Island Seafood Company
Featuring fresh and fried seafood dishes and southern favorites like shrimp and grits.
Location: F 9
Hours: 9am – 11pm

Lorena Garcia Tapas BarLorena Garcia Tapas Bar
Offering a selection of small bites and sandwiches.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 9am – 10:30pm

Maison Mathis
Offering European-inspired sandwiches, salads, desserts and beverages, as well as Belgian beer.
Location: F 3
Hours: 9am – last flight on F

The Original El TacoThe Original El Taco
A spirited Mexican restaurant featuring fresh food, margaritas and frozen mojitos.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 9am – last flight on F

Pecan BistroThe Pecan
The airport location of the College Park restaurant offers upscale southern cuisine.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 6am – last flight on F

Pei Wei Asian Diner
Offering Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Thai cuisine.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 9am – last flight on F

Pei Wei and The VarsityThe Varsity
One of two airport locations (with Concourse C) of the famous Atlanta drive-in restaurant, offering chili cheese dogs, burgers and Frosted Oranges.
Location: F Mezzanine
Hours: 9am – last flight on F

Bon voyage and bon appetit!

images provided by HMSHost

Cucina Asellina Celebrates First Anniversary

Happy anniversary Cucina Asellina! The modern Italian restaurant is celebrating one year in Midtown Atlanta.

Cucina AsellinaCucina Asellina is able to seamlessly bring together two seemingly opposing concepts. It’s hip and trendy, the kind of restaurant to kick off an evening on the town. Yet at the same time, you feel like you’re enjoying Italian home cooking.

It’s due in part to Chef de Cuisine Andrea Montobbio, who grew up in the Capriata d’Orba region in Northern Italy and studied at top Italian schools. Since moving to the United States at 21, Chef Montobbio has honed his skills at Atlanta restaurants including Pricci, The Mansion on Peachtree, and Taverna Fiorentina.

Start with the Seared Beef Carpaccio, which is served with arugula, pickled root vegetables and pink peppercorns. Or try the Scottish Salmon Tartare, which gets added freshness from sliced grapefruit. The house cured duck prosciutto is a standout in the chef’s selection of cured meats.beef carpacio, duck prosciutto, salmon tartare

You’ll never go wrong with the Meatballs, made with veal, pork and beef, and served in a tasty tomato sauce (don’t worry, there’s plenty of bread for dipping).meatballs

Whether you’re a first time diner or a regular, you’ll want to try one of Chef Montobbio’s pastas. Made in house, each offers a tempting combination of flavors and textures.

The Square Spaghetti is as fun to eat as it is to look at. A simple preparation lets the freshness of the ingredients shine.

The filling in the Burrata Ravioli is accented by oven-roasted tomatoes. Balsamic vinegar infused in the pasta gives it a unique dark color.pastasquare spaghetti, risotto

A highlight is the Risotto that, with the addition of Prosecco, is light enough to enjoy on the hottest of days.

The wine list offers a variety of Italian whites and reds that complement the food. The knowledgeable servers are helpful in offering guidance when selecting a glass or bottle.

For dessert, the Tiramisu is a top pick. Or try the Cannoli, which are filled with a decadently creamy filling of fresh sheep’s milk ricotta and Grand Marnier.tiramisu and cannoli

No experience at Cucina Asellina is complete without tasting the housemade Limoncello. Served ice cold, it’s wonderfully sweet and deceptively strong.limoncello and panna cotta

Make a reservation for lunch or dinner now — your mouth will be watering after looking at the photos below.

Cucina Asellina, 1075 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta 30309 (Midtown)

Monday Mangia at Cucina Asellina

Midtown’s hip Italian eatery is helping you ease into the week with its new Monday Mangia. Leave the cooking to the chefs at Cucina Asellina with a three-course dinner for just $17 per person.

The modern Italian restaurant located adjacent to STK Atlanta features uncomplicated Italian dishes made from traditional Italian ingredients.

The first course is Cucina Asellina’s signature salad of field greens, radishes, olives, dried tomatoes, basil and parmigiano dressing.

For the second course diners get to build their own pasta dish or flatbread. Choosing spaghetti, orecchiette or penne as the base, pasta fans can add sauces including fresh tomato and basil, three meat ragu or besciamella, plus seasonal vegetables, shrimp or chicken. The flatbreads are baked in a wood-fired pizza oven and may be topped with vegetables, mozzarella, mushrooms, sausage, chicken, smoked provolone, peppers, salami, olives and more.

Dinner concludes with Cucina Asellina’s tiramisu.

Monday Mangia will be offered every Monday evening at Cucina Asellina beginning at 5pm.

Cucina Asellina, 1075 Peachtree Street, Midtown Atlanta. (404) 793-0141

James Beard Dinner at Vingenzo’s

In December Chef Michael Bologna of Vingenzo’s was invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City. It was an honor for the chef, whose Woodstock restaurant is loved by locals but may not be as well known to Atlantans who live inside the perimeter.

At Vingenzo’s Chef Bologna creates traditional Southern Italian dishes using ingredients that are so fresh the restaurant doesn’t have a walk in freezer. The ambiance is warm and welcoming, with a wood burning oven in the open kitchen.

On January 29th Chef Bologna recreated the five course dinner at his Woodstock restaurant. Every seat at Vingenzo’s was filled — a testament to Chef Bologna’s following and an indication that Atlantans who venture north will find a delicious dining experience.

The evening started with a glass of Candoni Prosecco and hors d’oeuvres that included housemade crudo, asiago-encrusted baby artichokes and white bean stew that was served on individual spoons.

The first course was hand-crafted burrata that looked like a wrapped gift. It was served with preserved tomatoes, basil and arugula, and paired with Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio 2010. Scroll down for photos.

The second course was osso buco tortelli with gremolada and roasted demi cream. The dish was accompanied by a glass of Castello D’Albola Chianti Classico DOCG 2007.

The third course was pan roasted halibut served with a Sicilian pistachio mascarpone sauce and butter-stewed baby root vegetables. The fish was paired with Principi di Butera Chardonnay 2009 from Sicily.

The fourth course was braised Riverview Farms pork shoulder and crisp pork belly with creamy polenta and glazed cipollini compote. It was paired with Rocca di Montemassi Sassabruna 2008, a red “Super Tuscan” that was a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah.

Dessert was called “Semplicemente in Bianco e Nero.” Mozarella di bufala and chestnut-honey balsamic strawberries were drizzled with a chocolate gaze. The dish was served with a glass of Candoni Muscato.

Vingenzo’s is located at 105 East Main Street in Woodstock, Georgia.
(770) 924-9133

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Miami's Best Brunches

You can’t beat brunch.  A great brunch is the most sumptuous meal of the week and it’s the best excuse to have all of your favorite foods at one time.

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, just think how important brunch must be!

Looking to plan your Sunday brunch?  Here are my favorite spots in Miami:

Acqua at Four Seasons Miami
An elegant setting to enjoy brunch favorites with a Mediterranean flair.  With extensive cheese, carving, Asian food stations and more, there’s truly something for any taste.  If you’re not in the mood for a Mimosa or Bloody Mary get a mojito — all are unlimited.  Request a table by the window for nice views of Brickell and the bay.
$70 per person.  Located in the Four Seasons Miami, 1435 Brickell Avenue, Brickell. (305) 381-3190

Area 31
Chef John Critchley’s brunch is a gourmet buffet featuring caviar, paté, cold cuts and cooked dishes like roast chicken breast and steak frites.  While sipping on unlimited Mimosas or Bellinis you can enjoy live music.
$50 per person.  Located in the EPIC Hotel, 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Downtown Miami.  (305) 424-5234

Whether it’s breakfast or lunch, Balans has it all.  You can’t go wrong with one of the four kinds of eggs benedict or the enormous breakfast burrito, though you may be tempted by the lobster club wrap or the chili beef salad.  The à la carte menu ranges from around $8 to $15.  To get your day started there’s a full menu of cocktails for $11 each.  Just be sure to arrive early otherwise you could have a long wait (especially at the Miami Beach location).
Both Saturday & Sunday.  Two locations: 901 South Miami Avenue, Brickell and 1022 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach.  (305) 534-9191

Biltmore Hotel
It doesn’t get any more lavish than Sunday Champagne brunch at the Biltmore Hotel.  The array of selections include carving, omelet, sushi and tapas stations, plus a wall of desserts.
$75 per person.  Located in Fontana Restaurant at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables.  (305) 913-3202

Bizcaya at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove
The Ritz-Carlton always gets brunch right.  Here you’ll enjoy all the traditional favorites plus made-to-order sushi and sashimi and grilled-to-order fresh fish — all in a gorgeous setting that includes a cascading waterfall.  And of course, you’ll be able to take in the view with free-flowing Champagne.
$52 per person, $25 for kids 4 to 12 years old.  Located in the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove, 3300 Southwest 27th Avenue, Coconut Grove.  (305) 644-4680

Cioppino at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
A buffet so big you’ll be full just looking at it.  Go easy on the pasta, salads and grilled meats so you can save room for caviar (three different types), raw oysters and sushi.  Of course there are unlimited Bloody Marys and Champagne cocktails (Mimosas, Bellinis and a few more), and an entire room just for dessert.
$72 for adults, $36 for children under 12.  Located in the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, 455 Grand Bay Drive, Key Biscayne.  (305) 365-4286

The à la carte menu features a variety of frittatas and egg dishes that start at $12.  Or try the buttermilk pancakes that are topped with caramelized apples and spiced candied walnuts.  Plus you get to enjoy complimentary Mimosas or Bloody Marys with your meal.  Bonus: brunch gets you free entrance to Club 50’s Sunday Refresher party where you can groove to a live DJ and enjoy light bites until 5pm (it’s normally $30).
Located in the Viceroy Hotel, 485 Brickell Avenue, Brickell. (305) 503-0373

Rusty Pelican
Go for the great view of downtown and Brickell, stay for the enormous fresh seafood spread.  If you’re not in the mood for peel and eat shrimp, raw oysters or steamed crab, there’s always the assortment of cold salads and ham or beef at the carving station.  Enjoy the view with unlimited Champagne, Mimosas or orange juice.
$33.95 per person, $13.95 for kids 5 to 10 years old, under 5 free.  3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne.  (305) 361-3818

The Setai
Craving Asian cuisine?  Check out Sunday brunch at the Setai.  In addition to eggs, pancakes and traditional brunch breads, there’s a wide assortment of Indian, Chinese, Thai and Malaysian dishes.
$67 per person, $34 for kids 5 to 12 years old.  2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach.  (305) 520-6400

Escape the craziness of South Beach at this cozy brunch.  The buffet is set up on the restaurant’s garden patio and features a carving station, pasta, fresh local fish, breakfast favorites like waffles and pancakes and an elaborate display of homemade desserts.
$29 per person which includes juice and coffee.  210 23rd Street, Miami Beach.  (305) 672-0778

Tre Italian Bistro
A great value and a convenient spot for people who live in downtown.  A la carte items are $12 and come with a complimentary Mimosa, Bloody Mary, sangria, orange juice or cappuccino (each additional drink is $3).
270 East Flagler Street, Downtown Miami.  (305) 373-3303

Tropical Chinese Restaurant
It’s a bit of a drive from downtown and Miami Beach but it’s the best dim sum in the area.  A word of advice: don’t get too much off of the baked and fried items cart so you can load up on delicious steamed dumplings.  Dishes range between $3 and $7 so your bill can be as small or as big as your appetite.
Both Saturday & Sunday.  7991 Southwest 40th Street, Miami.  (305) 262-7576

8 oz Burger Bar
I could eat 8 oz’s juicy burgers any time of the day (my favorite is the Niman Ranch lamb), but they’re even better with Bloody Marys that you can customize at the Bloody Mary bar.  Unlimited Bloody Marys cost $20.
1080 Alton Road, Miami Beach.  (305) 397-8246

Have a favorite brunch spot that’s not on the list?  Send an email to tips@amateurgastronomer.com.

Good Things Come in Tre

You don’t have to head to Lincoln Road for nice al fresco dining.  Tre Italian Bistro is making Flagler Street in downtown Miami the new place for outdoor eating and people watching.

TreAs the saying goes, good things come in threes, a number that has special meaning for the restaurant.  It’s both its name (tre means three in Italian), and its location (the corner of Third and East Flagler Streets).  Tre is the third downtown restaurant from the three partners of La Loggia, an Italian restaurant across from the courthouse.

Fortunately there are more than three tables at Tre because the restaurant has been busy since opening last month.  The good news for those who have been hungry for a place like this in downtown is that the food is good — and shows potential to get better.

TreDespite its small bar area, Tre has a good mix of cocktails, all priced at $9.  There are the standard South Florida favorites like mojitos and caipirinhas, as well as more adventurous drinks like the Tre-Tini (a cucumber and honeydew vodka martini), the Per Lei (Campari and mandarin vodka with a splash of Sprite), and the rich sounding Stracciatella Martini (vanilla vodka, Godiva light and dark liqueurs and vanilla ice cream).

Though I’m not a big sangria fan I really liked Tre’s white sangria.  It’s fruity without being too sweet, and is light and refreshing on a hot day.  A glass costs $6 and a 1 liter carafe is $18.

Both the lunch and dinner menus feature a little bit of everything.  There are salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizza and classic Italian pasta dishes and entrées.

Like any good Italian restaurant, Tre has great bread.  Be sure to have some of the delicious homemade focaccia while you’re looking over the dinner menu.  Or go for lunch and have a sandwich on it.  It’s even better when dipped in olive oil that the servers pour onto your bread plate.

Tre carpaccioIf you’re a big meatball fan you may be disappointed by Vinnie’s meatballs ($7), which are a little dry and under-seasoned (it didn’t help that mine were served on the cool side).  I did like the beef carpaccio ($12), thinly sliced seared filet mignon topped with baby arugula.  The meat tasted great though the large portion of arugula needed olive oil or some sort of dressing.  I’m not sure whether this omission was intentional or accidental.  One quick fix — the servers could leave the olive oil bottles on the table after they pour it onto the bread plate.  Update: bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar are now left on the table.

Tre pizzaTre joins a handful of Italian restaurants in downtown that serve individual thin crust pizzas — though you can’t fault them for joining the crowd because their pizza is pretty good.  Each pizza is made in a wood oven and is big enough for two people.  The Queen Margherita ($9) keeps it simple and tasty, with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil.  If you prefer more toppings try the Fig and Prosciutto ($12), a nice balance of salty and sweet with figs, prosciutto di parma, catupiry cheese and tomato sauce.

Tre linguineIf you like seafood with some spice, I highly recommend the seafood linguine ($13).  It’s black linguine in a fra diavolo sauce with a generous serving of shrimp, scallops and calamari.  My pasta came out cooked perfectly, just slightly al dente.  Also delicious is the lobster and champagne risotto ($14).  It’s creamy without being too heavy, with big chunks of lobster.

If you’re not into pasta try the shiitake crusted mahi-mahi served with sautéed bok choy and bell peppers ($15).  The slightly sweet and tangy sauce is so good you’ll wish there was more of it.  Another good choice is the roasted chicken marinated in beer and fresh herbs served with truffle roasted potatoes ($14).

For dessert you can’t go wrong with the Tropical Tiramisu ($6), lady fingers and mascarpone layered with strawberries and peaches and topped with toasted coconut, or the Dulce de Leche Soufflé ($7), a warm caramel soufflé with vanilla ice cream and freshly ground cinnamon.  Or order the Stracciatella Martini, which has enough ice cream to double as a dessert.

Tre also offers a weekend brunch, featuring traditional breakfast fare.  Dishes cost $12 and include a Mimosa, Bloody Mary, glass of sangria, fresh orange juice or cappuccino.  Want a second or third drink?  They cost $3, of course!

Tre Italian Bistro is located at 270 East Flagler Street in downtown Miami.  It opens at 11am on weekdays and 9am on weekends, and closes at 10pm Monday through Wednesday, 11pm Thursday through Saturday, and 4pm on Sunday.  For more visit tremiami.com.

Posh Pies at Ecco Pizzateca + Lounge

If you’re in the mood for a slice of pizza, consider getting a whole pie instead at Ecco Pizzateca + Lounge.  It’s the latest trendy dining spot to open in Miami’s central business district, adding to the flourishing downtown dining scene.

Ecco PizzatecaEcco is located on the ground floor of the Huntington Building, on the corner of Southeast 1st Street and 2nd Avenue.  Surrounded by office buildings, it is quickly becoming the power lunch spot for the non-power lunch crowd.  Ecco has a funky and fresh vibe with an affordable menu — no expense account required.

Ecco won’t satisfy your craving for a slice of real New York pizza but it’s not a bad alternative.  There are nearly 30 different gourmet pizzas to choose from, created by award winning pizza chef Massimo Fabio Bruni of Italy.

The pizzas range from the basic Margherita (house made tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil, $9), to the not so traditional Shock (spicy salami, broccoli, spinach, parmesan and gorgonzola, $15).  Ecco PizzatecaI ordered the Capricciosa ($11), which has ham, mushrooms, artichokes and black olives.  It had a great crisp thin crust, though it could have used more tomato sauce.  All of the individual pies are pretty big, so you’re guaranteed to leave full.

If you’re not in the mood for pizza, Ecco has a variety of salads, paninis and pastas, plus a few meat dishes.  The Lasagna Tradizionale ($9) is a generous serving of meat lasagna, though it tastes a bit bland.  If you’re craving baked pasta I’d recommend going to Soya e Pomodoro instead.

Ecco PizzatecaI like Ecco as a spot for an after work drink and light bite.  Sit on one of the funky chairs in the lounge area (my favorites are the big armchairs covered in cow print), and order an Antipasti.  The All’ Italia has something for everyone — Italian cheeses, prosciutto, salami, olives, roasted red peppers and arugula.  Pair it with a mixed drink, a glass of wine or beer, or a San Pellegrino Limonata.  Belgian beer fans will be happy to know that Ecco has Chimay on tap and serves it in Chimay goblets.

Though Ecco is mostly a weekday lunch spot (opening at 11:30am and closing at 4pm Monday through Wednesday), it is now open until 11pm on Thursday and Friday, and will soon be open on Saturday.

Ecco Pizzateca is located at 168 SE 1st Street in downtown Miami.  For more information visit www.eccomiami.com.