Our waiter recommended the spinach and ricotta cannelloni as the best-selling offering (and his favorite). A rolled and stuffed crespelle — a thin Italian pancake similar to a crêpe — is doused in a thick, hearty pink tomato-and-cream sauce packed with Parmesan. The sauce overwhelms the delicate crespelle, especially because of the excessive quantity that fills the platter.

Sun-dried tomato risotto is another almost-hit. The risotto benefits from fresh goat cheese and caramelized onions, but the dish would have been better if the rice hadn't been overcooked. Then again, the kitchen crew is probably jamming behind the swinging doors. It must be difficult to focus on rice when there's a fest just a few steps away.

Desserts follow in the dancing footsteps of the rest of the menu: few innovations but mostly pleasing results. The chocolate soufflé is dressed up with a tableside flambé. After drizzling a few drops of Bacardi white rum atop the dessert, the waiter ignites the small chocolate dome. The preparation attracts attention and, this being the age of the iPhone, numerous camera flashes. After the fire, the taste of the rum is largely indistinguishable. A traditional flan benefits from a bolder addition of alcohol; the dessert is paired with a plum-colored port reduction and a tiny squirt of dulce de leche.

Three-hour short ribs cooked in red wine and served with creamy polenta.
Three-hour short ribs cooked in red wine and served with creamy polenta.

Location Info


Catharsis Restaurant and Lounge

1644 SW 8th St.
Miami, FL 33135

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Little Havana


Catharsis Restaurant and Lounge


Dinner Tuesday through Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight, Sunday 5 to 10 p.m.

Croquetas $8.95
Ensalada rúcula $7
Costillas de res $25.95
Canelones espinaca y ricotta $15.95
Risotto de tomates secos $16.95
Flan $6

With all the weekend dancing and music, service is predictably slow and dinner can take about three hours. During the week, the waitstaff is genuinely attentive and friendly — and feels most comfortable speaking in Spanish.

On weekdays, when the room is far sparser, compilations from Paris's acclaimed Hôtel Costes take over the sound system, creating a calmer, more international ambiance. But it's the weekend's buoyant groove that keeps people coming back in droves. Every other month, Catharsis also offers a gimmicky night of dining in the dark — an evening when patrons wear blindfolds while they eat.

During one weekday evening, chef Llano, an amiable, dark-haired toque with a quiet voice and gentle tone, emerged from the kitchen to converse with guests throughout the restaurant. He shyly approached and asked, "How was the meal?" He received various positive remarks, to which he answered, "Good, because we've been working very hard for a year now."

Outside Catharsis — where salsa beats faintly echo — is the Little Havana where you have always wanted to spend more time. Though there are still only a few brightly lit restaurants, art galleries, and bars, the sidewalks of Calle Ocho already smell, sound, and look like a hot happening nightlife and dining destination.

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Hernan is always there and the nicest guy in town!  We had our Wedding Rehearsal Dinner at Catharsis and 7 months later our family is still talking about it.  The food is delicious and the service superb!  Our obsession are both the short rib with polenta and the pear gorgonzola ravioly....Absolutely Amazing!!