December 20, 2009

Dinner at Scarpetta, Fontainebleau Resort on Miami Beach

Friday night my wonderful and amazing group of food friends and I had our holiday celebration at Scarpetta within the Fontainebleau Resort on Miami Beach. We all in some capacity earn our living as professional food and wine writers, photographers and critics.

Scarpetta means to drag a piece of bread through the last bit of sauce at the end of your meal in order to clean your plate. What an odd name I thought for a venue that is so not “scarpetta”. Quite possibly I could be judging a book by its cover.

Scott Conant, formerly of L’Impero and Alto, is at the helm of Scarpetta, Fontainebleau Miami Beach. This is definitely not your traditional neighborhood Italian restaurant. There are no vinyl red and white checkerboard tablecloths to be found here, no raffia swathed jugs of Chianti plunked down in the middle of the table, no cans of tomato sauce, olive oil and family pictures lining the walls as homey-cometh ambiance. This chic and trendy Italian restaurant features splendid ocean views with a wrap-around veranda delighting the romantic soul. The decor is ultra-stylish and mod. This is where beautiful food is made. This is where beautiful food is presented. This is where the beautiful go to eat. Would the beautiful really “scarpetta”?

The stromboli-type of bread is filled with meats and cheeses exciting and taunting any carb-loving fool into amassing the contents of the bread basket. I thought what an interesting collection of breads, must be for those who “scarpetta”. Unlikely though, even the bread is beautiful. Why would you do that to the bread?

Signature Conant dishes such as Agnolotti Dal Plin (ravioli) filled with mixed meat and fonduta, mushrooms and parmigiano and Duck and Foie Gras Ravioli grace the menu and the palate, daring you to excite the culinary wanderlust within. The Spaghetti with tomato and basil is homemade, handmade and quite the most fabulous carbohydrate provoking item that you will ever put in your mouth. Period. I think I would “scarpetta”.

The Creamy Polenta with fricassee of truffled mushrooms is smooth with an ultra-rich mouthfeel experience. It’s right about now that I’m looking to “scarpetta” my fricassee. I think one of my dining companions has taken possession of the bread basket.

The spice roasted chicken served with polenta, porcini mushrooms and liver-almond sauce is definitely not your Mother’s roasted chicken. The secret to this insanely luscious and moist fowl dish is that it is slow cooked. Anything worth its salt, if you will, takes time. Slowly roasted, perfectly seasoned and imbibed with just the right amount of marinade/brine offers its captors a truly exquisite culinary experience of succulent tender meat leaving you yearning for just one more taste. The liver-almond sauce is definitely worthy of “scarpetta”. Where is that bread basket?

And now dessert, the Coconut Panna Cotta is quite simply lust in a dish. Sweet, sticky and silky smooth. This caramelized pineapple and guava is a velvet cream exciting your tastebuds to beg for more sweet, more silk and more sticky.

And now I get it, no matter how gorgeous it is, it’s about the taste. Taste is everything. You either have it or you don’t. If it tastes good it’s worthy of “scarpetta”. Do you “scarpetta?” I definitely “scarpetta”. Click here to view the photos from dinner.

4441 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33140-3227
(305) 674-4660
Scarpetta on Urbanspoon



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