Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurant - 2010
Readers' Choice: Olive Garden
Italian restaurants come and go. And come and go. And come and go. Some boast prime location; some tout wood-burning ovens, early-bird specials, happy hours, and karaoke nights. Spiga doesn't go in for a whole lot of razzmatazz. Located in the boutique Hotel Impala, the cozy, romantic restaurant is aglow in low light and awash in rich wood; the porch is one of the most charming spots for alfresco dining the city has to offer. The cuisine is handsome and humble too — fresh ingredients forged into our favorite Northern Italian classics. Grilled calamari with olive oil and lemon, red snapper alla Livornese, a signature seafood soup brimming with shellfish, and veal scaloppine with prosciutto and sage are just a few of the simple and simply delicious dishes. But Spiga especially shines when it comes to homemade pastas. Gnocchi is ethereally light, ravioli is sumptuously soft, and quadretti with portobello mushrooms, truffle oil, and shaved Parmesan exemplifies Italian cooking at its flavor-exploding best. All pastas are under $20, most starters less than $10, and there's a wide selection of well-priced wines. Desserts — including the finest ricotta cheesecake you'll encounter south of Mulberry Street — are $8. Perhaps most important, first-timers here are treated like regulars. Maybe that's why Spiga has been going strong, in fickle South Beach, for 15 years.