Calamari in Coconut Grove to Close, New "Brutal and Rustic" Italian Concept to Open

Pasta at Calamari
Pasta at Calamari

Calamari, a staple of the Coconut Grove restaurant scene, is closing its doors after seven years of service.

The restaurant sent an email to customers:

To our Loyal Customers and Friends:

Miami is an ever-changing city. Today we are announcing that after more than seven years of serving Coconut Grove, Calamari Restaurant will be closing its doors soon.

However, this is not the end but rather a new beginning! We will be renovating and introducing a beautiful Italian restaurant and lounge for our beloved Grovites and friends. It will be a chef driven restaurant with a simple, brutal and rustic cuisine point of view, the perfect recipe for an exciting dining experience. After being very successful with his restaurant in Chicago, the new chef patron has decided to move to Miami and share his authentic flavors with all of you.

Calamari has had the privilege of serving The Grove and has made many friends. We hope to continue to see you in the future when we launch this unique place!

We will keep you posted with more details soon.

There is no set closing date for Calamari, but it's been confirmed that the restaurant has already changed ownership from restaurateur Tom Billante to a group. The new chef/partner, who at this point wants to be known only as Chef Gaetano, hails from Napoli and has cooked around the world, spending 18 years in Asia and serving as executive chef for President Nelson Mandela's inaugural banquet in Pretoria, South Africa. Gaetano says that there's no set time frame for the opening of the restaurant but that he hopes to revive the space with his rustic Italian cuisine.

The 260-seat Calamari opened in spring 2009, offering freshly made Italian favorites. Though not a trendsetter, Calamari was a favorite among families and locals who flocked to the lovely eatery at the far end of the Grove's business district. In a review of the restaurant in 2010, New Times critic Lee Klein, referring to the restaurant's non-nonsense, homestyle approach to its cuisine, said diners leave Calamari with "no exclamations of wonder over foods not seen before, no guesswork as to point of origins, no speculation about whether the chef will ever get his or her own Food Network show. Guests exit instead with a happy, gratified feeling that, dagnabit, Grandma has done it again!" 
Calamari is part of a compound of establishments, including Taurus Bar and the now-shuttered La Bottega Enoteca. 

La Bottega Enoteca has already been transformed into Ariete, a restaurant by chef Michael Beltran and partner Jason Odio, a born-and-bred Grovite. Ariete is set to open today. Taurus continues to thrive and is the home of the upcoming Miami Whiskey Mash.

Ariete and this new Italian eatery are part of a wave of restaurants changing the face of Coconut Grove dining. Within a year, a slew of restaurants — including Harry's Pizzeria, Panther Coffee, 33, and Fornaro Ristorante & Pizzeria — have opened in the tree-lined neighborhood.


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