Scarpetta's polentaEXPAND
Courtesy of Scarpetta

Miami Spice 2018: The Five Best Italian Restaurants

Miami Spice continues through September, when diners can indulge in prix fixes ($23 for lunch and brunch, and $39 for dinner) at more than 240 restaurants across town.

Though Miami Spice offers dining experiences in everything from Asian fare to vegan dishes, if you're with a group of picky eaters, Italian restaurants are the way to go. From hearty pasta to fresh branzino, there's usually something to sate every appetite. Here are menu highlights from five restaurants offering Italian cuisine during Spice this year.

Miami Spice 2018: The Five Best Italian Restaurants (2)
Courtesy Cecconi's

1. Cecconi's. The terrace at Cecconi's is nothing short of magical. Tiny white lights twinkle in the breeze as the sound of the surf and a faint scent of salt air waft amid guests' gentle laughter and clinking glasses. The food is based on rustic Italian cuisine. At dinner, begin with the burrata or a pizzetta with truffle, goat cheese, and zucchini blossom. Move on to a steaming plate of black ink casarecce with squid, bottarga, and tomato or Ibérico pork saltimbocca. Dessert is the chef's selection. 4385 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-507-7902; cecconismiamibeach.com. Miami Spice is offered for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Sunday through Friday.

Make like Lady and the Tramp at Scarpetta.EXPAND
Make like Lady and the Tramp at Scarpetta.
Photo by Michael Pisarri

2. Scarpetta. Celebrity chef Scott Conant's restaurant at the Fontainebleau offers branzino, roast chicken, and short-rib agnolotti, but it's the simple spaghetti with tomato and basil for which the restaurant is known, so be prepared to enjoy your carbs guilt-free. Start with the creamy polenta or burrata, and finish lightly with coconut panna cotta. 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-4660; scarpettarestaurants.com. Miami Spice is offered for dinner daily.

Miami Spice 2018: The Five Best Italian Restaurants (4)
Courtesy of Casa Tua

3. Casa Tua. Like a lovely Tuscan villa placed in the middle of South Beach, Casa Tua transports you to Europe for an evening of romance. Begin with burrata, tuna tartare, or arugula salad with baby artichoke before opting for pappardelle al ragù del borgo, grilled salmon, or fettuccine with wild mixed mushrooms and summer black truffle. End the evening with tiramisu or panna cotta. 1700 James Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-1010; casatualifestyle.com. Miami Spice is offered for dinner Sunday through Thursday.

Prime Italian's Kobe meatball.
Prime Italian's Kobe meatball.
Courtesy photo

4. Prime Italian. The meal begins with a choice of a light appetizer such as a refreshing platter of prosciutto di Parma served with artisanal cheese and fruit or local burrata with heirloom tomatoes. Then move into gut-buster territory with offerings such as chicken parm, spaghetti and a Kobe meatball, or Wagyu short rib with white truffle risotto. Save room for mini cannolis or the restaurant's specialty — fried Oreos with vanilla ice cream. 101 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-695-8484; primeitalianmiami.com. Miami Spice is offered for dinner daily.

La Centrale

5. La Centrale and Carne. At La Centrale, start your night with a Negroni at the aperitif bar before heading to the food hall's Carne. There, begin with the beef carpaccio before choosing from chicken Milanese or a six-ounce beef filet. Finish with chocolate mousse. 601 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-720-2401; lacentralemiami.com. Miami Spice is offered for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday.

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