First Bites

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

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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.

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Carla Torres found her inner gourmand voice while writing for Miami New Times in 2012. She has also worked with Travel & Leisure and Ocean Drive. She balances passions for wine, sweets, yoga, and kayaking.