Amami: You Will Fall in Love

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The word Amami (ah-mami), in Italian, means love me. And there is no shortage of things to fall in love with at this wholesome and sustainable Italian café. Amami is located on the east end of Española Way, near the intersection of Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. There are two outside seating areas and a quaint orange umbrella.

Amami is still in its infancy. It opened in October and is slowly but surely drawing devoted locals. Although some dishes reflect tastes of a world far way, Amami is devoted to using ingredients that come from sustainable local farms. "It has never made sense to me why restaurants use produce from halfway around the world, when the same exact things can be grown 15 minutes away," co-owner Kristine Grazioli says. And she means it. While I was dining outside, I watched a local organic fish distributor pull a small truck into the adjacent alley to make a delivery.

The interior space is inviting, clean, and simply decorated. The colors are modern blends of silver, red, white, and the signature bright orange. There are even some local artists' works hanging on the walls.

Grazioli runs and comanages the restaurant. You can't miss her, because she's the only server. She's also sometimes the only manager. Oh, and if the chef isn't there, she cooks too. Everything is made to order. Nothing is ever premade.

The only drawback: Your order might take a few more minutes than usual. Some would call the food vegan-friendly, which it is, but there is also traditional Mediterranean cuisine.

Mixed Tapas Appetizer ($9)
This app is also large enough to be enjoyed on its own. It includes fresh-baked bread lightly coated in butter or housemade spreadable cheese. Laid on the side are thin slices of salami and prosutto, as well as various cheeses, nuts, and spreads.

Meat Polpette ($10)
Hand-rolled meatballs deeply marinated in a tangy housemade red sauce.

Veggie Polpette ($9)
Cakes of shredded vegetables in a tofu base are lightly pan-seared. The polpettes come on a bed of fresh spinach, sprinkled with sliced almonds and then drizzled with honey.

Miami Caprese Salad ($9)
This twist on the modern caprese makes the original look boring. Thick slices of tomato and avocado come with burrata and mozzarella cheese, as well as fresh basil on top.

Tofu Tagliata ($17)
Arugula, grilled carrots, cherry tomatoes, and portabello mushrooms cover this bamboo board. Thick chunks of perfectly seasoned tofu hide inside the salad, and hand-cut roasted potatoes accompany on the side.

Oven-Cooked Rigatoni ($9)
This inexpensive, wildly delicious baked pasta will be in your thoughts all day. The recipe is our favorite pasta dish in Miami Beach, and for good reason. The pasta is made from scratch and then tossed in Amami's house-made red sauce. Covered in mozzarella and sliced eggplant, it's then placed in a wood-burning oven. The result is a lightly baked pasta dish that is second to none. And the price won't empty your wallet either.

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