Casa Tua Cucina, which opened quietly inside Saks at Brickell City Centre in January, offers an array of choices for hungry shoppers wanting Italian-style sustenance.
Restaurateur Miky Grendene, founder of the long-standing Casa Tua in South Beach, envisioned an open-kitchen-style market in 2011 but waited to start the project until he found the perfect location with the right partners, he says.
When CEO of CAK Entertainment and businessman Charles Koppleman called him about a potential partnership with Saks, Grendene realized both the high-end department store and Casa Tua shared the same philosophy. "Saks takes a curated approach to fashion, and we take a curated approach to food and lifestyle. Together we want to offer a new luxury experience where we create memorable moments for our customers."
Cucina means "kitchen" in Italian, which Grendene prefers to use in the name rather than call it a food hall. "For me, the kitchen is the heart of a home — it’s where families share, cook, eat, and laugh together," he says. "We believe sharing good, ethically sourced food is one of the highest expressions of love." Love is also the reason for the heart shape in the logo.
Casa Tua Cucina also serves a different purpose from the South Beach restaurant, an iconic destination with a high-end clientele and members-only club. The Saks marketplace is designed to cater to and welcome all patrons. The 300-seat space includes ten dining stations, each with a different chef at the helm and all sharing a kitchen. It's also family-friendly, with a more causal atmosphere and affordable prices.
Throughout the market, visitors can also find artisan products available to take home. All of the items were carefully chosen from smaller producers, including a coffee imported from Naples, Italy, and an abundance of Italian olive oils and jars of honey from Key West.
Next to the entrance, Brickell City Centre shoppers can watch through a window while chefs make pasta dough from scratch. Inside Casa Tua Cucina, eyes are drawn to a giant wood-burning oven and grill where guests can choose a piece of meat or fish to get cooked to their preference. Past the central bar, pizza dough can be seen being stretched before it's placed in a 950-degree oven.
For diners wanting something light, smoothies and salads are made to order. Customers can also enjoy a wide selection of prepared foods, ranging from lasagna and sandwiches to lavish caviar and bottarga. Other offerings include charcuterie, panini, gelato, coffee and tea, pastries, oysters, and tartare.
The bar alone is worth a visit. More than 50 wines are offered by the bottle and glass (glasses range from $9 to $36). Eighty-five percent of the wines are Italian, and the rest are worldwide. Bar manager Marcus Rodriguez creates cocktails such as the Frida y Diego, made with Ocho tequila, Ilegal mezcal, jalapeño, Concerto espresso, barley liquor, egg white, and activated charcoal ($15). Local beers are sourced from the Tank, Concrete Beach, J. Wakefield, and Funky Buddha ($8).
Guests order their food at the station of their choice, and servers deliver the plates. Take-out boxes are made from recycled materials, and delivery will be available soon.
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Casa Tua Cucina is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Happy hour and brunch are expected soon.
Casa Tua Cucina. 70 SW Seventh St., Miami; 305-755-0320; casatuacucina.com. 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.