Openings

Years in the Making: Groot and Tao Hospitality to Bring Casadonna to Edgewater This Summer

Interior designer Ken Folk is behind the look and feel of Casadonna, the new coastal Italian restaurant set to open on the first floor of the Miami Woman's Club building this summer.
Interior designer Ken Folk is behind the look and feel of Casadonna, the new coastal Italian restaurant set to open on the first floor of the Miami Woman's Club building this summer. Casadonna photo
Casadonna, a partnership between Miami-based Groot Hospitality and NYC's Tao Group Hospitality, will bring a coastal Italian-inspired restaurant to Miami's Edgewater neighborhood this summer.

When it opens, Casadonna will represent the first-time partnership between Tao — part of Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp., best known for its namesake pan-Asian restaurant that opened in 2000 — and Groot, which owns and operates several Miami establishments, including LIV nightclub, Komodo, Swan, Papi Steak, Key Club, and Gekko.

According to Groot Hospitality vice president Chris Cuomo, Casadonna is a project that's been years in the making.

"There's a longstanding personal relationship between Dave [Grutman] and Noah [Tepperberg], and this is something both groups have discussed doing for quite some time now," Cuomo tells New Times.

When the iconic historic space became available in 2019, both hospitality veterans knew it was the right fit to launch a concept offering their combined vision.

"We knew we wanted a historic space in Miami, and when it comes to location, there's no better place to be than on the water," says Cuomo.

Described as a coastal Italian-inspired concept, the restaurant will be housed on the first floor of Miami's Women's Club, a historic five-story building at 1737 N. Bayshore Dr. in the city's Edgewater neighborhood.

After waiting for more than a decade of reconstruction and intricate refurbishing of its 1926 historic clubhouse, the Miami Woman's Club — now in its 123rd year of service — returned to the historic space in August 2022. As such, the Casadonna name is an homage to the building's longstanding occupants, a marriage of the Italian words casa and donna that combined translate to "house of the woman."

In July 2022, the building also became home to Klaw, a restaurant located on the fourth floor. Leasing the two buildings' restaurant spaces provides income to the Miami Woman's Club, with funds earmarked to assist with future maintenance costs and service operations.
click to enlarge
Casadonna photo
Today, the Mediterranean Revival building has been refurbished to much of its original style, including the parapet roof adorned with stone balustrade, 1926 Italian lighting, and oak flooring on the Club's third floor.

The expansive 20,000-square-foot space and waterfront setting are also part of the reason Groot and Tao decided on a coastal Italian theme, which they believe is the perfect match in both cuisine and design.

Designer Ken Fulk envisioned a green-dominated space as a nod to the site's legacy and a reflection of modern Miami tastes. Design highlights include an indoor-outdoor flow (including a covered, high-ceilinged atrium), paned and vaulted glass windows, and the space's original gates and chandeliers.

At Casadonna, the goal is to showcase both groups' ability to offer upscale fare in a unique setting, Cuomo explains.

"Both groups are well-known for their nightlife components, but our goal is to highlight their culinary prowess," says Cuomo. "We've spent nearly a year building the menu to create a really amazing experience."

Although dishes haven't yet been revealed, the group has tapped Tao Group's former Lavo Singapore executive chef Michael Gucfa to helm the kitchen at Casadonna. Alongside Groot culinary vice president Josh Brown and Tao's chief culinary office Ralph Scamardella, the three men have spent more than eight months collaborating to create what Cuomo says will be an exceptional culinary experience for Miami.

Riviera-style Italian cooking will be the focus of Casadonna's menu, which will feature fresh local and imported products to create a number of signature handcrafted dishes. Think traditional recipes found in the coastal towns of Naples, Taormina, Bari, Positano, and Gaeta created with a contemporary twist and offered alongside a bespoke cocktail menu and extensive wine list.

"It's been hard keeping this under wraps for so long. We're all very excited to bring this concept to Miami and Edgewater," sums up Cuomo.

Casadonna. 1737 N. Bayshore Dr., Miami; casadonnamiami.com. Opening summer 2023.
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna

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