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Romantic Italian in South Beach

I'm trying to find an Italian restaurant in South Beach (a short walk from the Loews) is still open. Friends ate at the restaurant in June 2006 and raved about the place.

It was described to me as Italian with a great outdoor dining courtyard in the back that played old romantic black & white movies on the garden wall.

Ring a bell for anybody? I'll be in South Beach the week of January 15th and would like to try the place if I can figure out the name of it and if it's still open.

Any help is much appreciated. Thanks!

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    1. re: netmover

      Thanks! Have you eaten there? Any opinions on the food?

      1. re: tpatricco

        Yeah, way over priced. Not great.

        1. re: tpatricco

          It's been a while I must confess. I ate inside when they first opened, outdoors fits your description, the main dining room was a bit bright as I remember.

          Upstairs was a cool vibe at the time. Other CH contributers would have a more up to date take on the place.

          Drinks and some apps may do the trick? Entrees to follow if you get inspired? 17th & James Ave SOBE

        1. re: 2top

          I appreciate the candid feedback. The atmosphere sounded compelling. I'm from Northern NJ so I'm used to great & varied Italian at NYC-ish prices. I'll check out Casa Tua early in the week for drinks & apps as suggested, and decide if it's worth returning when my husband arrives for the weekend.

          Escopazzo looks great! Thanks!!

          1. re: tpatricco

            the other place you may want to try is Osteria del Teatro on Wash & Espanola Way. It's considered the best "Northern" Italian in MIA.

        2. Osteria is the best italian restraunt in Miami Beach, but esco has the setting you are looking for. I think esco is overrated but many love it. Not that osteria's ambiance is bad btw. Casa Tua does blow both away in ambiance, however, the food at casa is more expensive and worse than either esco or osteria.

          1. I've eaten at Casa Tua twice in the last 3 years. It is the closest I've ever come to eating at a real Italian restaurant in the US (not the normal everything covered in red sauce glop). First time was excellent - second was very very good. It's chic - expensive - hard to get a reservation - and trendy. Might not be everyone's cup of tea. Note that I just went there for the food - and left a happy camper. Also note that I generally hate restaurants on Miami Beach. Robyn

            1. Please, osteria absolutely destroys it. It is not even close.

              7 Replies
              1. re: tpigeon

                Thanks for your remarks Robyn. I'm sad to hear you seem to have never had a good red sauce (real Italian Americans call it gravy) experience. Here in NJ we have excellent places for "red sauce" style cuisine (Try Spirito's in Elizabeth for delicious, bare bones old school red sauce). We also have more typical Northern Italian restaurants as well. Both have their own merits and just depends what you're in the mood for.

                I appreciate your feedback on Casa Tua. I think I have a good sense of what to expect there, and I also think having realistic expectations makes for a more likely positive experience anywhere.

                tpigeon, I'll definitely investigate Osteria del Teatro as well.

                I have an Italian (Roman) friend in Miami, so I'll inquire as to his opinion as well.

                1. re: tpatricco

                  I have had good red sauces. In Italy. In my own kitchen. I'm a decent Italian cook - even make my own pesto in the summer :). Just don't generally find them in Italian restaurants in Florida. I think Casa Tua would be about a one star Michelin place in Italy - but - because it's in South Beach - it costs more than one would spend for comparable food in Italy.

                  As for service/attitude - I have not eaten there on a busy night in high season. On the nights I ate there - I had excellent service on the phone in terms of reservations - and at dinner. That includes one night where I changed the number in our group from 4 to 2 to 4 the night of our dinner.

                  Regarding Osteria del Teatro - I used to go there years ago before the original chef was murdered. Liked it. Couldn't bring myself to go back there after the murder. The idea gave me the creeps. I suspect most of you are younger than I am and don't have similar baggage.

                  Note that if you get off Miami Beach - there are (or at least used to be) some really good Italian restaurants. One favorite of mine when I lived in Miami was Cafe Abbracci (in Coral Gables). I believe it is still quite good. Robyn

                  1. re: tpatricco

                    Do real Italian Americans really call it gravy? I am 100% Italian American and have never heard anyone call it that except New Jersey Italians. There must be a deliniation somewhere.

                    1. re: JackieB

                      Could be a Jersey thing...I'm not Italian myself, but many around here do call it gravy.

                      Not when it tastes like it came from Olive Garden obviously, but when you simmered it in a pot on the stove all day Sunday.

                      1. re: tpatricco

                        My MIL, from Long Island, calls it sauce but remembers, growing up, it was always called "gravy" around her household. And her mom apparently called it gravy too.

                        1. re: dietfoodie

                          It's interesting. I also noticed a trend of calling all pasta 'macaroni'. As in "what shape of macaroni?" (to put on the gravy). Hmmm..

                          1. re: JackieB

                            My MIL does that occasionally too, but she usually qualifies, as in, "I have to put the macaroni on, the rotini on."

                            The only person I've ever heard refer to it exclusively as "macaroni" was a older gentleman I used to work with who was actually from Italy originally and still had quite a heavy accent.