The newly remodeled and revitalized Fontainebleau is all the rage in the fickle SoBe social circle.
This rambling resort is so large and beautiful that it mimics a sprawling cruise ship or all-inclusive resort layout, complete with an obnoxiously large yet gorgeous pool, numerous bars, the famed LIV (currently one of the hottest night clubs in the country) and no less than 7 restaurants, of which three are fine dining experiences.
The shining star of these eateries is without doubt Scarpetta, a delectably gourmet Italian hotspot by Chef Scott Conant with locations in NY, Las Vegas, and LA.
It was a girls' night out -- just the three sisters trying to navigate the sexy social scene of Miami without getting picked up ("Thank you for the compliment, but we're all taken. Move along please"). We had reservations via OpenTable.com for a 9:30 seating, but were glad to not be seated right away so we could enjoy some drinks at the bar.
You can expect to pay typical South Beach drink pricing ($15-$20 for a cocktail or glass of wine). As Wine-O's, Jenny and I went straight for a glass of Pinot Grigio to complement the Italian feast in our foreseeable future, but Julie tried a tasty martini reminiscent of a salad (basil and cucumber) which turned out to be divine. Definitely great for those who do not tolerate sickeningly sweet concoctions. I was feeling generous and bought the round on my card (carefully calculating how much they would owe me later, wink wink). The restaurant has a fabulous interior and exquisite low lighting, although perhaps the volume in the restaurant is just a touch too loud.
Our hostess alerted us of a table available near the bar, but we politely declined and requested a table further inside the restaurant. We only had to wait about 15 minutes longer anyhow. Our table inside was fabulous, and we three ladies opted to sit together on the bench side of the table, because, let's face it, one of the best things about South Beach is the people watching. The crowd consisted of some well-dressed and attractive couples in their 50's and 60's, some tables of friends who all appeared to be in the modeling industry, and several tables of distinctly Miami natives whose wardrobe jut screamed for attention.
Our service was immediately fantastic: an overly attentive but nonintrusive server and several other wait staff to make sure the tables were clean, glasses were full, and all were content. Due to my research on the restaurant beforehand and reading numerous reviews, I had a pretty good idea of which dishes the three of us would share as a table, and sure enough, they were the ones the server promptly recommended.
To start, we ordered the Creamy Polenta with a sauce of Truffled Mushrooms, and when our server delivered it to our table, he also came bearing a complimentary order from the chef of the succulent Braised Beef Shortribs with a Vegetable and Farro Risotto. The chef had us hooked from that moment forward. I firmly believe there is no better way to create a lifelong customer than by bringing out a free and tasty extra course. (As a food enthusiast and amateur cook, I know that short ribs are a particularly cheap cut of meat that become amazing from the low and slow cooking process, and are a wonderful choice to comp because there is hardly any food cost involved and you get a high rapport return). We each dished up a small plate of the polenta and short ribs -- needless to say there was a hush over our table and the only mutterings to be heard were variations of the word "yum". Had I not been facing the crowd, I might have been tempted to lean over and lick my plate to savor every last morsel. I already knew I loved this place, and we hadn't even received our main course yet.
We chose two pasta dishes as our entrees: Duck and Foie Gras Ravioli in a Marsala Reduction with Chives, and a simple Spaghetti with Basil and Tomato. Simple, and yet incredibly rich and delicious. Literally, I enjoyed every bite, and forced myself to eat slowly so I would relish every flavor sensation. I will be craving those flavors for years to come. No joke, I could even plan a trip based around the possibility of eating at a Scarpetta location again.
We were offered dessert, which I am sure would have been sinfully decadent, but alas, it is Miami Beach, and I did not want to be the chubby girl at the pool the next day (no one wants that label), not to mention I was simply obsessed with the culinary experience I just had, so we politely declined.
My sisters and I toasted each other on an excellent restaurant selection and superb ordering, and ultimately to a great sisters' weekend. As they say in Italian, "Cin cin!"
Gratuity: Be aware that any restaurant in the Fontainebleau resort has an automatic gratuity charge of 18% on each bill, so unless your service was overly fantastic or you are feeling particularly generous, there is no need to add more tip.
Price Range: $15-$20 for a cocktail or glass of wine, $18-$45 for an entree
Taxis: If you are staying elsewhere (like we were), tell the taxi driver to drop you off at the more southern of the 2 entrances as it is closer to the restaurant.
Not to Be Missed: Tomato and Basil Spaghetti, Creamy Polenta with Truffled Mushrooms, Duck and Foie Gras Ravioli
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