Top Five Mid Beach Restaurants

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5. Scarpetta
Chef Scott Conant's "Italian soul food" at the Fontainebleau is basic, rustic, and delicious. The signature spaghetti pomodoro is emblematic of the approach: thick strands of the homemade pasta twirled into a nest with a sauce culled from fresh tomatoes, basil, butter, olive oil, and a pinch of Parmesan. And of course there are many more great pastas, as well as a whole menu of finely prepared cuisine -- from turbot with salsify and mussels to veal loin with saffron semolina and bone marrow. Even Scarpetta's bread cops awards.

4. Cecconi's Miami Beach
To dine under the stars is divine. To do so with a retractable roof overhead in case the stars disappear behind rain clouds is even better. To do so in a gorgeous patio garden with really great food is the best. Chef Sergio Sigala stays with the same philosophy that made him so popular at Casa Tua -- which is to use fresh, quality ingredients in a clean, uncomplicated manner that brings out the pure, basic flavors. Poulet rouge gilded with shaved truffles is masterful, as is the braised lamb rack in syrupy demi-glace. And Sigala was one of the early proponents of using local Swank Farms vegetables in his salads. Just think: a breezy, romantic, outdoor dinner with luscious Italian food -- just in time for Valentine's Day!

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Miami New Times' restaurant reviewer for the past decade, and the world's indisputable master of disguise.
Contact: Lee Klein