DolceVino is the newest eatery on Miami Beach to deliver an Italian menu with a modern twist. It's located in The Claridge Hotel on Collins Avenue, Don't be fooled by the non-descript facade. A trifecta of Italian stallions are behind the concept, ensuring both food, ambiance and service make you feel like your in Fellini's La Dolce Vita. A four-course meal will be served in a dim dining room with white tablecloths and comfortably cushioned hardwood chairs. You'll linger just long enough to finish that entire bottle of M'ama non M'ama super-Tuscan ($36/$9) before the espresso arrives.
Owners Andrea Rainis and Luca Paltrinieri met years back working at Piola. Luca, the eternal host, jumps from table to table while replenishing wine glasses and chatting up guests to resonating laughter. Andrea keeps an eye on the kitchen, ensuring dishes worthy of a picture in Bon Appetit.
The printed menu changes weekly depending on what's available locally, but seems fairly uninspiring.& With dishes like caprese di bufala ($11), spaghetti with tomato and basil ($10.50), spaghetti chitarra with meat sauce ($14) and filet mignon with fingerling potatoes ($28), we suspect it's designed to entice hotel guests looking for the familiar. However, when Luca starts reading off the long list of daily specials, we know we are in for a treat.
We start our meal with a velvety butternut squash soup ($11) topped with grilled shrimp, a hint of sage and salty yet sweet cinnamon croutons that melt in your mouth. The creamy richness lingers as we dig into the linguine with asparagus, green onions, tomatoes ($15) all rolled neatly on top of a bowl of creamy parmesan sauce topped with paper thin slices of prosciutto.
Our main course, lamb wrapped in spec ($35) , was served with a mushroom reduction, buttery fingerling potatoes and spinach that's been sauteed into garlicky submission and sits majestically on the plate. The lamb is a bit underdone for our taste, but the cut of meat so tender we eat it all anyway.
As we wipe our plates clean Andrea approaches the table with our dessert, a homemade warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream ($7). This chocolate lover is not disappointed, sopping up the melted vanilla ice cream with every bite. Next time however, we are asking for the fruit tiramisu ($7), a take on the traditional stuffed with strawberries and bananas.
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At DolceVino both Luca the sweet lover known as "Dolce" and Andrea, a passionate wine collector, hence "Vino", put their best foot forward. But to us the food stole the show -- just be sure to ask for the specials because they are very special indeed.
DolceVino at the Claridge Hotel
3500 Collins Ave., Miami Beach