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The Villa by Barton G.

Part of the thrill of dining at the Villa is the opulent ambiance. From the nostalgic splendor of the Moroccan Room to the intimate dining area with Versace-designed Rosenthal china atop tables draped in royal-blue linen, diners know as soon as they enter Casa Casuarina that this dining experience will be singular. Yes, it's pricey, but you can see the money on the plate. A truffled asparagus salad, for instance, includes a warm ricotta flan generously gilded in white truffle shavings and sumptuous morel mushrooms. Snapper ceviche arrives looking like a little psychedelic garden, with delicate herbs sprouting vertically from a ring of raw snapper, pickled key shrimp, minced mango, jalapeño, red onion, candied citrus zest, and crisp coins of taro. Main courses, more substantially portioned, include a luscious pairing of a giant breaded scallop and a petite, melting-soft nugget of veal cheek -- with wilted chicory leaves, beech mushrooms, and a puck-size toasted oat cake accented with cumin and moistened with a broth flecked with capers and golden raisins. The flavors bounce off of and light up the senses like a pinball -- emblematic of talented chef Jeff O'Neill at his boldest and best.

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