Serafina for Miami Spice: Steak, Truffles, and Value

Miami Spice is a win-win for everyone: Restaurants get to salvage their dwindling summer revenue, and locals get to check out restaurants they would've normally never visited -- mostly, because many of these places are expensive.

Serafina, the Miami outpost of the small New York City chain favorited by celebs like Kim Kardashian, offers Northern Italian fare at a prime South-Beach-real-estate price. You can't blame the $26 yellowfin on the regular menu when it's only one of the many options on the Miami Spice menu, which is capped at $33 per person for dinner.

See Also: Iron Fork and Miami Spice Kickoff: DeRosa, Rapicavoli to Compete

"Our Spice menu is all about the value," says restaurant manager Greg Emersic with equal parts thick Eastern European accent and charm.

The value was quickly validated when New Times was invited over for a first bite of the Spice options.

Starters include imported Italian buffalo mozzarella with sliced ripened tomatoes and balsamic reduction drizzle. The buffalo mozzarella is enormous -- about the size of a fist (nromally, it's $16). Carpaccio di filetto con salsa di tartufi neri features thinly sliced filet mignon, black truffle sauce and diced potatoes. It was a crowd favorite (and by crowd, I mean my guest and myself, as there were only two of us dining). The carpaccio was butter-soft and quite literally melted in your mouth. The truffle sauce was as heavy as it was delicious and had rather large pieces of truffle to boot. Both are enough to share between two people. Also offered is branzino ceviche (regular price $13) with papaya and mango, in a tequila marinade.

As we noted before, the pan-seared peppercorn-crusted yellowfin tuna, which comes with shaved fennel and orange segments is normally priced as a sole entree for $26. But it's one of the Spice dinner options. Also available is an Italian burrata pizza with San Marzano tomato and fresh basil (normally $20), as well as [huge] homemade black truffle ravioli (normally $23) and grilled shell steak (regular price $29.95). We sampled the latter two and, yet again, were impressed with the enormous portions. But in the good spirit of journalism, we struggled through our dishes, and left with only one thought: salt would've perhaps made them more enjoyable. So we added it to our liking and were satisfied. The issue really wasn't a big deal.

Dessert offers a homemade tiramisu "like grandma used to make, maybe better," and spiked popsicles in varieties like vodka/passion fruit, tequila/peach, and champagne/strawberry. We opted for the tiramisu after our waiter, Ben (seemingly a direct descendant of the Roman gods, by the way) convinced us of the dessert's brilliance. It might have very well been the highlight of our week, because it was definitely better than any tiramisu our grandma ever made.

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Alex Rodriguez