This latest project was inspired by the eight years chef and co-owner Angelo Masarin spent in Hartford, Connecticut, before decamping to Miami to open Salumeria in December 2011. Masarin was born and trained in Treviso, north of Venice, and co-owner Carlo Donadoni is a Milan native. They took several trips through the Northeast earlier this year to develop and finalize the concept. "You can find restaurants [in Miami] that do fish and oysters, but from our point of view, the quality wasn't there," Masarin says.
The one-page paper menu at this 27-seater offers all the mandatory New England seafood classics and a handful of Mediterranean twists. Besides oysters, there are fish 'n' chips, clam chowder, and pots of steamed clams. There's also branzino culled from waters off Spain and Turkey and an Italian stew with Florida lobster in a saffron broth.
The oysters are followed by a half-dozen fried middleneck clams -- fat, golden brown, and resting atop their shells. They arrive lined up on a long, narrow plate. After a dip in beer batter and then hot oil, the shellfish dissolve into a luxurious custard akin to a savory, ocean-flavored cream puff.
Just as delightful is a side of inky Venere rice, whose black grains are grown in northern Italy by a friend of Masarin's. The chef prepares them in a luscious almost-pilaf style with a hearty vegetable stock and fruity extra-virgin olive oil replacing butter. The process yields firm yet supple bites that are intensely fragrant.