As Short Order reported last week, Gaia Ristorante, the
latest venture of seasoned restaurateur Tom Billante, has opened at 101
Ocean Drive (Hilton Bentley Hotel)-- which I erroneously cited as the
site of Billante's last Ocean Drive venue, ViVi. In fact, Prime Italian
has moved into that space, and Gaia is its' new neighbor.
is a whole lot more info about the place to impart to you now. For
example, we can say with certainty that there is a "walking menu",
which features a laminated piece of paper with two little legs that
propel it around the room. No, wait, that can't be right.
here it is: Chef Gaetano Ascione, from Naples, Italy, will "walk" from
table to table, gauge diners' preferences, and customize meals based on
his conversations (what Romeo does in his eponymous Gables cafe).
Ascione likes to create themed dinners based on one ingredient. In this
vein, a meal might be composed of parmesan consommé with ricotta
tortellini and rehydrated yellow tomatoes; filet mignon with roasted
tomatoes and eggplant; crab cake served with a shot glass of Italian
"gazpacho"; and, for dessert, sweet San Marzano tomato jam with fennel
salad and biscotti. If you don't like tomatoes, try to remember to
mention that to the chef when he stops by to chat.
($10-$28) include marinated Mediterranean octopus with radicchio and
lemon dressing, and Hudson Valley foie gras with lobster, porcini
mushrooms and aged balsamic. Sample pastas ($19-$38) are penne
puttanesca with swordfish, tuna, orange tomatoes, anchovies, capers,
and olives; and orecchiette with oxtail, arugula, sun dried tomatoes
and Parmigiano. Entrees bring meat dishes ($29-$42) like Colorado
herb-crusted rack of lamb with roasted sweet peppers, and veal
scaloppini with choice of five treatments. From the grill ($32-$51):
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tonno (ahi tuna), gamberoni (large prawns), veal chop or prime
sirloin. Kenya beans with almonds sounds like the most intriguing of
the side dishes.
Gaia serves lunch daily from noon to 5:00 p.m. and dinner nightly from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Reservations:305-672-6624.