When I think about Miami, I think of palm trees, night clubs, and of course, Will Smith…I mean how can anyone not love that song, or love to hate it at least. (Apologies now if you are still singing this song at the end of the day.)
Palm trees and night clubs are great, but never do you hear someone say Miami has great food. Miami is just not a front-runner is the culinary world, and no, I am not hating on Miami because I hate on the Heat. (Let’s Go Knicks!)
Don’t get me wrong, Miami has great restaurants, just not that many. They are hard to come by without a little hard work. And lucky for you, this Bite-Sized Blonde did all the hard work this weekend.
My first stop in Miami was Casa Tua, which means “your home” in Italian. This hotel, which is really more like a private residence, has only five private suites. I didn’t stay here, but I did have the privilege of dining in the restaurant. Yes, you heard my correctly, PRIVLEGE. This restaurant is special, and you feel that the minute you walk into the lush garden terrace. The restaurant is designed to feel like you are in someone’s home; it is adorned with photographs and bookshelves piled high with books and trinkets. Even the menus are special, decorated with personal photographs for an intimate feeling.
I would be remiss not to mention the enormous open kitchen that embellishes the dining room. Although I didn’t sit in front of it, I had a pretty good view; Cameron Diaz and A-Rod were at the table next to me. While this Bite-Sized Blonde might not be a celebrity, I was certainly treated like one. The service was outstanding. Our waiter, well versed in the menu, helped us pick a perfectly hued Rose and well as a number of exceptional dishes. He made sure they were stacked so we could savor each and every one.
We started with The Branzino Carpaccio with Pink Grapefruit and Toasted Hazelnuts, which was enhanced by crisp scallions. The carpaccio was everything that carpaccio should be, light, refreshing, and delicious.
We also enjoyed The Grilled Octopus with Borlotti Beans, Celery and Red Radish which was tender and creamy from the beans. The celery and radish added a unique element of texture to the dish.
Spinach Salad is usually something I stay away from in a restaurant with endless options. But as it was a recommendation, I decided to ignore my initial instincts and give it a chance. Boy am I glad I did. This spinach salad was anything but ordinary, with prosciutto, fresh figs, fried red onion and balsamic dressing. The spinach, along with a few sprigs of basils, was cut into beautiful ribbons, mixed with the fresh figs and fried onions, tossed in the balsamic dressing, and then wrapped up in the prosciutto like a beautiful present. Gosh, I love an early birthday gift.
The Casa Tua Tuna Tartar was prepared more like a beef tartar, with olives and capers. It was an interesting take on a classic dish.
The Tagliolini with Maine lobster and fresh tomatoes was a dish I couldn’t pass up, and do you really blame me? The sauce was sweet which complimented the succulent lobster so effortlessly.
For the grand finale, we ordered the Grilled Waygu Skirt Steak with Baby Cipollini Onions and Roasted Mini Sweet Bell Peppers. The juicy meat was smoky and woodsy from the rosemary yet sweet from the onions and the peppers. When such a simple dish has such complex flavors, you know there’s a great chef behind it all.
Casa Tua is a great restaurant, and not just for Miami. This restaurant would be successful in New York and Los Angeles. You know why? Because exceptional food, outstanding service and a warm atmosphere are like love, universal and hard to come by.
1700 James Ave
Miami Beach, FL