Not Your Mama's Italian

Escopazzo breaks all the rules, irresistibly

Over the course of four meals there was always a fried battered vegetable dish on the menu, but it changed. Fritto misto proved irresistible on a first visit, owing to the inclusion of two nonstandard ingredients, fresh sage leaves and amaretti -- yes, almond macaroons -- among the usual suspects (zucchini, asparagus, sweet potato, and artichoke). The sage, often used to spice Italian dishes but seldom on its own, was terrific in light, crunchy batter. The deep-fried cookies also worked, in a weird way, and certainly made dessert unnecessary. On a later visit the mix was replaced by fritelle di carciofi e mozzarella, a sort of combination of mozzarella in carrozza (or fried in bread) and Rome's famed spring specialty, carciofi alla Giudia -- but with the fried artichokes bite-sized instead of whole, and a bracing, basil-flecked tomato coulis to balance the breading.

Sformatino di asparagi is an Escopazzo perennial, but don't miss this smooth flan, which came garnished with fresh asparagus spears and numerous thin slices of luxe black truffle. Its bath of mixed-cheese "fonduta" was not a heavy cheese sauce but a light, whipped cream-textured foam that almost seemed cutting-edge New Spanish.

Entrées were hard to resist (especially for a carnivore, since all meats are from free-range, grass-fed animals). But I must admit that in Italy I most often make a meal of starters and pastas, and so it went at Escopazzo. When it came to visit number four, I reluctantly, despite a tempting lemon/truffle aroma, rejected the remarkably juicy-looking Neiman Ranch pork chop being inhaled by a diner at the next table, in favor of another starter that was pure critic catnip. What restaurant reviewer could have turned down fegato grasso in tre preparazioni, when one of the three baits was a slab of deep-fried, hazelnut-crusted foie gras, with a conserve of plums and chocolate?

Chef Giancarla Bodoni creates audacious, 
free-wheeling recipes
Jonathan Postal
Chef Giancarla Bodoni creates audacious, free-wheeling recipes

Location Info



1311 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Music Venues

Region: South Beach


Open daily except Mondays, 6:00 p.m. to midnight (1:00 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays). Call 305-674-9450.
1311 Washington Ave, Miami Beach

It was actually much better than it sounds; not at all cloying, the tangy fruit and cocoa made perfect bittersweet sense. Salt curing that balanced butteryness with brine gave a second chilled slice on bruschetta more character than mild cold foie normally has. The third item, a goose liver lobe pan-seared rare with a rich caramelized pear and port wine sauce, was also good, though similar to many nouvelle cuisine foie gras preparazioni I've had in -- I hesitate to say it -- France. But the audaciously free-wheeling wholeheartedness of the trio made the dish tremendously Italian in spirit. The rest of the restaurant is, too.

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