Pasta and clams at Donna Mare.EXPAND
Pasta and clams at Donna Mare.
Courtesy of Donna Mare

At Donna Mare, Chef Manuel Mattei Serves Italian Fare Like His Mother Did

An Italian holiday promises plenty of great food and wine, but locals in search of an authentic Italian fare experience don't have to travel that far. Instead, they can head to Donna Mare, the new eatery inside the Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club in Miami Beach.

Located on the corner of 39th Street and Collins Avenue, the beachfront hotel, recognized as one of Miami Beach's historic Art Deco properties, has undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation, joining Marriott International's Autograph Collection of 150 properties around the world.

Donna Mare's concept is by chef-partner Manuel Mattei, who hails from Bergamo, a city in Italy’s Lombardy region. He says his childhood was largely spent in the kitchen cooking with his grandmother and mother, Donna Rosa, watching dishes being born from organic ingredients purchased at local markets.

After years of working in Italy, France, New York, and at the Sagamore Miami Beach hotel, Mattei, who's also a co-partner of the Il Bolognese restaurant on Ocean Drive, wanted to pay homage to his mother’s culinary legacy. He defines his new spot as "an unpretentious destination for locals," with an emphasis on rustic cooking at reasonable prices. "This is not fine dining; this is a trattoria," says Mattei. "We want to capture the flavors of Italy and keep it simple."

Donna Mare dining roomEXPAND
Donna Mare dining room
Courtesy of Donna Mare

The eatery's 160-seat dining room features light woods, smoky blue accents, high ceilings, and gray stone floors. The kitchen is led by chef Giovanni Spataro from Palermo, who has worked in London, Spain, Italy, and at Terra & Aqua restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida. Aside from classic Italian specialties, his list of offerings incorporates some of Miami's favorites, like crudo, oysters, and shrimp cocktail.

A salumaio plate is a good introduction to the menu, with mixed meats such as bresaola and culatello, cheeses, and fig marmalade ($23). Other starters include wood oven-roasted bruschetta ($9), shrimp cocktail ($23), and antipasti of tuna carpaccio with tomato, taggiasca olives, and lemon zest ($17).

Entrees include a beef filet with Aglianico reduction, cipollini, sunchoke, and black truffle ($33) and branzino in padella served with butternut squash, potatoes, and spinach ($37). Pasta dishes include tortelloni with lobster chunks, shallots, parsley, tomato, and cream ($29), and the restaurant offers wood-fired pizzas like the Pugliese with tomato, mozzarella, pecorino, and nduja, a soft sausage that's packed with chili ($19).

For dessert, try homemade tiramisu with 90 percent dark chocolate or a key lime pie limoncello shot (each $13). The wine list features a lengthy variety of offerings, with a strong emphasis on rosé sourced from California, Italy, and France.

Donna Mare also offers breakfast a la carte daily. A kids' cooking club gathers at the restaurant twice a week in the afternoon.

Donna Mare Trattoria. 3925 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-6273; donnnamare.com. Open Monday through Thursday 6:30 to 11 a.m. and 6 to 11 p.m, Friday 6:30 to 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. to midnight, Saturday 6:30 a.m. to noon and 6 p.m. to midnight, Sunday 6:30 a.m. to noon and 6 to 11 p.m.

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