Tag Archives: Italian cuisine

Dining at the Fontainebleau: Scarpetta

Scarpetta is Fontainebleau’s Italian restaurant, located in the lobby level of Sorrento.  It’s by Scott Conant who recently opened a restaurant of the same name in New York City.

Peering in through the entrance, the restaurant gives off a very hip nautical vibe.  The color scheme is a soothing light blue, gray and light brown.  A mosaic with a circular pattern runs across the wall and behind the bar.  A large outdoor seating area overlooks the resort’s pools and is great for dining alfresco on nice evenings.

My experience at Scarpetta didn’t start off so great.  I had to wait 30 minutes for a table, even though I had a reservation.  The good thing was the bartenders were very friendly.  The manager was apologetic and once we were seated the staff was very attentive.

As Scarpetta is an Italian restaurant, the majority of the wine is Italian.  Fortunately there’s a sommelier on hand to help you choose among the many bottles.  What’s surprising is there are no American wines.  If you want something outside of Italy, your only option is a French wine.

The servers were a bit aggressive when it came to refilling our wine glasses.  I’d take a sip and someone would come by and refill the glass.  It seemed there were several servers who roamed around refilling glasses.  One would pour in a little, then another would pour a little more — even if you hadn’t taken a sip in between.  It felt like they were pushing us along so we would order another bottle.  We didn’t.

Our server was extremely well versed on the menu.  He went over it before we ordered, explaining what each Italian term meant and going into detail if we asked about a specific dish.

At his recommendation we ordered the homemade duck and foie gras ravioli to start.  The pasta was light and the creamy center oozed out when you took a bite.  The flavor was rich and delicious.  It was a generous portion and very filling — you could order it as a main course.

One appetizer I really liked was the grilled octopus.  It was served with black lentils and celery salad.  The octopus had a great fresh taste and was cooked just right so it was still very moist.  I preferred Scarpetta’s grilled octopus to Gotham Steak’s version.

The main courses were a bit disappointing.  The black cod, served with concentrated tomatoes and roasted fennel, was overcooked and didn’t have much taste (Gotham Steak wins on black cod).  The Branzino ‘Acqua Pazza’ (meaning crazy water) was slightly better.  It’s served in a tomato broth with cous cous and lobster.  The branzino was light and delicate but the lobster was very chewy.  Both the fish and the tomato broth seemed to be lacking in seasoning.

My favorite Italian dessert is tiramisu so I had to order it when I saw it on the dessert menu.  Scarpetta offers a deconstructed version called “tira mis su.”  It came out looking like an open-faced unmelted s’more — a small espresso-soaked cookie underneath a log of mascarpone cream covered in what tasted like ground up chocolate-covered espresso beans.  Unless you love mascarpone cream, it’s way too much of it.  I prefer it in smaller doses, like when it’s spread between lady fingers in traditional tiramisu.

The highlight of the dessert was the chocolate olive oil mousse that was served with small chunks of espresso granita.  The granita melts in your mouth, filling it with a refreshing burst of chilled espresso.  It balances out the heavier mousse nicely.  I couldn’t get enough of the combination.  The mousse and granita deserve their own spot on the dessert menu.

My verdict after dining at Scarpetta: stick with appetizers in the lounge at the bar and order the chocolate olive oil mousse on its own.

Scarpetta is open for dinner and Sunday brunch.  For more information click here.

Related Articles:
Dining at the Fontainebleau: Gotham Steak
Nightlife at the Fontainebleau: Bleau Bar and LIV

Soya e Pomodoro: Downtown Miami Hangout Serves Up Delicious Italian Fare

“Hole in the wall” would be the best way to describe Soya e Pomodoro. From the street it looks like an unlikely spot for a restaurant. It’s squeezed into an alcove in a former bank building between watch and jewelry stores in downtown Miami. It’s a space that looks like it was abandoned for years until someone moved in chairs, tables and plants.

The decor is second-hand chic. Mismatched chairs surround tables of different heights and sizes. A well-worn couch shares a low wooden coffee table with a couple of comfortable chairs. Bookshelves filled with old books in several languages create a wall. If you peek behind you’ll see the stunning architecture of the former bank in a space that’s used for parties and live performances.

On a street where many of the signs are in Spanish it’s strange to be greeted with a “buon giorno.”But once you step through the wrought iron gates into the eclectic dining room it feels as if you have entered a café on a side street in Rome.

Soya e Pomodoro’s motto is “simple food made with love.” It’s clear the chef and staff take great pride in making their food with love. When I asked the server if one of the pasta sauces was homemade he said, “of course it’s homemade, everything here is homemade! We’re Italian, that’s how we cook!”

For a small space it has a big menu. There are a variety of salads, paninis and pastas, with several chicken, steak and fish options for the main course. Everything is made with the freshest ingredients, which comes through in the food’s fresh taste.

One of the dishes Soya e Pomodoro prides itself on is its homemade gnocchi. It’s some of the best gnocchi I’ve ever had. The gnocchi are small, light pillows that are cooked perfectly and bursting with flavor. The sauce is delicious, a slightly creamy tomato sauce with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Meat lovers will enjoy the lasagna, which tastes like a recipe that was passed down through generations. It’s oozing with cheese and well-seasoned meat.

For dessert, the tiramisu is not to miss. It has a great espresso taste and just the right amount of mascarpone cheese so it’s not overly sweet or creamy. A generous sprinkling of cocoa powder on top will satisfy any chocolate craving.

To complete the Italian experience, I ordered an espresso. It was slightly more bitter than the espressos I remember drinking in Italy but just as strong. Sipping an espresso while watching people walk by, it’s easy to imagine yourself in Rome.

Soya e Pomodoro is busy during the day and is really hopping at night. Wednesdays through Fridays the restaurant is packed until late in the night with an eclectic mix of people listening to live music. Soya e Pomodoro’s website is still under construction but you can find out about upcoming events on the restaurant’s MySpace page.

Whether you’re looking to be transported to Italy for lunch or for a hip late night hang out spot, Soya e Pomodoro is that hidden gem in downtown Miami.

Soya e Pomodoro is located at 120 NE 1st Street in Miami.