Dolce Italian Opens Friday at Gale Hotel: We Get a Taste

Back in the 1941, architect L. Murray Dixon designed two art deco hotels, the Regent and the Gale. The two were joined by bridge in the 1960s, and recently, a $35 million remodeling was completed.

Now The Gale is a retro-class-meets-modern-elegance boutique hotel situated on a quaint but busy corner off Collins and 17th. The Italian Riviera-influenced design called for an in-house Italian eatery, which is being answered by Dolce Italian, which is set to open Friday, January 18.

See also:
- -Modern Italian: Dolce Coming to The Gale South Beach in January

Chef Paolo Dorigato brings simple Italian technique and flavors to this 6,000-square-foot space that includes a lounge and bar area, main dining room with a wood-fired pizza oven and mozzarella bar, and an outdoor café. Paolo's experience in the kitchen includes time in New York's esteemed outposts Le Cirque, The Rainbow Room, Cipriani Wall Street and Azure in Atlantic City.

The hospitable Dolce has recently been hosting "friends & family" dinners, inviting guests to sip on hand-crafted cocktails intended to cleanse the palate.

Dolce was completely full on its first night of their "friends & family," which we got to attend. For a first date with the restaurant, it seemed as if though its kitchen already had a relationship with the space and its guests, which would make sense since our server told us they had undergone an intense three week training where he tried and ate more things than he has throughout his entire life. That's a lot of food. The star of the night, however, was the optimist busser who refilled our water even though the glass was half-full (better than half-empty) and removed our silverware with every single dish that was had. Not even bread crumbs stood a chance with this guy.

New York is felt in the main dining room that rises just a few steps above the lounge and is sleek and intimate thanks to cream leather banquette seating. 1950s pop music plays at perfect dinner sound level and framed photographs, which tell the story of the family owned hotel, create a focal point in the back wall of the restaurant. White linens, mustard colored bread plates and water glasses, and wood paneled walls with mirrors running along one side arrange for a classy yet calm vibe.

The menu is varied and includes salads, a mozzarella bar, hot & cold antipasti, pizza, pasta & Italian classics, second courses (since pasta is a first course), side dishes, and as the name would suggest Dolce, or dolci. Prices start at $7 for side dishes, appetizers at $13, and escalate to $34 for a New York strip with truffled smashed potatoes.

Mixologist on duty Teddy Collins prepared an Ellis Island: five equal parts of simple syrup, Sailor Jerry's Rum, Disaronno, bourbon, and egg whites shaken dry with nutmeg and a lemon garnish.

Prepped bar ready for service with cocktail garnishes.

Grilled octopus: chick peas, faro, ginger pistachio vinaigrette $15.

Tuna tartare: vegetable caponata, capers $17.

Beef Carpaccio: arugula, parmigiano, truffle dressing $14.

Dolce Meatballs: creamy polenta, parmigiano $14.

Grilled shrimp & scallops: grilled zucchini, eggplant, asparagus, herb oil $28.

Short rib ravioli: asparagus, mushrooms, barolo reduction $22.

Seafood risotto: shrimp, scallops, calamari, tomatoes $24.

Veal milanese: breaded veal scaloppini, arugula salad, tuscan fries $32.

Limoncello tartufo $8.

Dolce will be serving dinner Sunday - Thursday from 6 to 11 p.m.; Friday - Saturday 6 p.m. to midnight, with plans to open for lunch and brunch shortly.

Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha

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