A wonderful sensation, finally, to feel as if I had left COVID-19 behind. That’s the way I felt at dinner Saturday night with Mr. W. We got dressed up, date night style, and headed off to Forte dei Marmi Miami where I’ve been numerous times before. Somehow it was extra special — the stylish veranda with its crisp white tablecloths and white rose adorning each; the buzzy atmosphere; the elegant Italian managers in their tailored dark blue suits and suede loafers; and the tableside service. Then there was a divine menu. I’ve gone to Forte dei Marmi Miami numerous times since it opened, and it has always been a favorite for its ambiance, cuisine and service. About a year ago the management changed along with the chef. I went back to check it out twice (once before Saturday with a picky Parisian girlfriend), and we all found the food better than ever (plus, they observe the safety protocols).
Andrea Reitano, the new owner, is a successful restaurateur with outposts in places where diners are demanding, as in London and Milan. He brought in Fabrizio Piga who hails from Sardinia, and fuses haute Mediterranean cooking style and presentation with the principles of the slow food movement.
The quality shined through on everything we ate, not surprising since they use organic produce, farm raised prime beef, wild caught seafood and fish. On one occasion the appetizer was a dish I enjoyed before, that didn’t disappoint — plump filled zucchini blossoms ($25). They were fried with a deft touch, with a tempura like batter, giving a little crunch outside and creamy inside from the mozzarella di buffala cheese. Also very good was the branzino carpaccio that was a sight for the eyes and delicious. It was made with Carasau bread, flavored tomatoes and basil pesto ($22). With Mr. W we had the pata negra Spanish ham served with fig jam. It felt like it was melting in my mouth ($29 half portion).
It seems every fine restaurant these days has grilled branzino, but this is the one that stands out. It was a large filet, super fresh, moist, and slightly crisp, served on a bed of baby veggie tagliatelle with zucchini puree. ($39).
My favorite, though, the star for Mr. W and I was their signature dish, the truffle cacio e pepe, bucatini served in a pecorino wheel ($39). It was prepared tableside, with the black truffles generously shaved on top. The pasta was perfectly al dente, the seasoning and the sauce just right.
For dessert I always have the honey onyx pistachio gelato that earned my distinction of one of the best desserts of the year. And what a presentation, in a natural cut travertine bowl from a San Pietro marble quarry near Forte dei Marmi. It is served for two, though in my book, it’s enough for three ($29). Another good choice for the show is the tiramisu espresso that’s coffee gelato and cookie crumbles prepared tableside ($26).
Additionally, the wine and cocktail program focuses on organic and biodynamic offerings. Glasses of wine ( 5 ounce pour) start at $11; bottles start at $60. The lists of wine and liquor are very extensive. Wines range from vintage champagne and regional varieties from Italy (try the Primitivo from Puglia) and France as well as choices from Spain, to the USA and the Southern Hemisphere. Popular categories like gin, single malt and blended scotch, rum, vodka and tequila have over a dozen entries each.Grappa and cordials too.
The restaurant also features a three course Miami Spice menu for $39 offered from Sunday through Thursday.It’s open daily from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with reservations essential. Takeout and delivery are also available. Valet parking is available: $40 VIP / $20 regular garage.
Forte dei Marmi Miami ,150 Ocean Drive.Outdoor seating on the covered veranda or side garden. For reservations, call (786) 276-3095.