An homage to both the striking patterns the designer is known for, as well as the man himself, Cavalli Restaurant & Lounge is visual overload.
Zebras, leopards, and flowers play together on the tables, seats, and servers' uniforms. Roberto Cavalli's image is plastered all over the walls, and giant bottles of Cavalli vodka and wine are displayed on the silver bar, illuminated in neon pink.
On a recent Friday evening, the restaurant was filled with well-dressed middle-aged clients wearing designer jeans and crisp linen shirts. A slew of young, impossibly tall women stood at the bar, drinking rose-hued martinis and glasses provided by their much older dates. The place was so packed that a few two-tops were hurriedly added in a corner.
Cavalli Restaurant & Lounge opened in early January in the former DeVito space in the South of Fifth neighborhood of Miami Beach. The restaurant, helmed by executive chef Stefano Mazzi, specializes in Italian- and Mediterranean-inspired fare.
Short Order was invited to try some of the dishes -- generally small portions served on oversize plates. It's an interesting illusion that begs speculation: Are the plates meant to make you feel like you're being served more food or less food? Will supermodels feel more sated after dining on a warm seafood salad served in a big dish, or will they think they've eaten far too much? Whichever way you feel, the gigantic platters prove a challenge for the tables, which, although adorned with all manner of bold prints, are of average size.
The restaurant, which also houses an upstairs lounge, is a lot like the designer's fashions. Colorful, bright, and whimsical, it adds to the SoFi restaurant scene, where the rich and famous go to eat and be seen.
Predator and prey meet at the dinner table.
Cocktails featuring Cavalli vodka and wine are $16 each. The Purple Glamour, made with flor de violet, features an edible flower. Other libations have quasi-creepy names like "I'd Jump on Her," "What Women Want," "Old American," and "What Jesus Would Drink." Also available: the "High Roller," an extravagant take on a champagne cocktail, made with Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque, Louis XIII, Angostura bitters, and a brown sugar cube ($450).
Mediterranean warm seafood salad ($25) is filled with sweet shrimp, scallops, and beans and drizzled with olive oil.
Risotto Portofino with curry and grilled Sicilian prawns ($28) is creamy, flavorful, and filled with seafood.
Gnudi Fiorentini, served in a brown butter and sage sauce, is a light and fluffy alternative to traditional pasta dishes ($23).
Espresso is served in vertigo-inspiring cups.
Too much cocoa powder made the tiramisu ($15) feel more like a desert than dessert.
Instead, finish your meal with the chocolate bomboloni, served with a warm raspberry sauce ($15).
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I also checked out the upstairs lounge. There wasn't a lot of action, but a lot more pink neon and animal prints.