October 21, 2009

Dinner at Cioppino, Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne

Cioppino by definition is a fish stew derived from the various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine. Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in the dish’s place of origin is typically a combination of dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce. The dish is comparable to Bouillabaisse of the French Provence and Suquet de peix from Catalonia, Spain. Cioppino at Cioppino is the signature dish of the talented and gregarious Executive Chef Ezio Gamba.

We sat outdoors on the terrace overlooking the Atlantic Ocean that alone set the tone for the evening that was ahead of us. The breeze off the ocean was warm and balmy embracing you with its natural appeal; washing away the hours of day and enticing you to stay in the moment of its glorious wonderment. I was greeted at Cioppino with a special Bellini cocktail. It was created by the Ritz Carlton’s Sommelier, Jorge Mendoza and was inspired by the famous recipe of Harry’s bar in Venice.

Our first course, Antipasti was a compilation of Burrata, Antipasto Misto and Beef Carpaccio all paired with Pinot Grigio, Danzante, Venezia, Italy 2007.

The next course, Primi was a tasting of Pappardelle, made of homemade egg noodles with duck ragu. Next in the Primi lineup was Agnolotti (ravioli) stuffed with creamy mozzarella, cured to perfection Italian prosciutto and fresh basil covered in a tangy tomato sauce. The final sampling in the Primi course was a Seafood Risotto. The velvety smooth risotto was topped with calamari, prawns, arugula and cherry tomatoes, a succulent combination of flavors and textures. The entire Primi course was paired with Pinot Noir Mezcan, Hoffstatter, Alto Adige, 2007.

The Secondi Course, of course, was the crown jewel of the dinner. The restaurants’ name sake and house specialty Cioppino was paired with Pinot Noir Mezcan, Hoffstatter, Alto Adige, 2007 and the Rack of Lamb was paired with Brunello Di Montalcino, DOCG, Solaria, 2000.

Following suit to this remarkable dinner was dessert.  The first dessert was a trio of flavorful, sorbets made from fresh mango, raspberry and coconut. The second dessert was a warm molten chocolate soufflé with hazelnut ice cream, absolute heaven. And the final dessert making up this sweet anthology was a berry tiramisu a delightful sweet twist on a classic that will give any mascarpone laden dessert a run for its money.

Chef Gamba has perfected the right combination and blend of flavors in these rustic dishes, making what could be ordinary simply extraordinary. To make dinner reservations at Cioppino call (305) 365-4500

Ritz Carlton, Key Biscayne 455 Grand Bay Dr., Key Biscayne, FL 3314
Cioppino on Urbanspoon


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