Well Done in Miami

We got off the plane in Miami and instantly knew that the dry desert climate was well behind us. There is a fresh fragrance and feeling of ocean air that is so alien to those of us who live in Phoenix. 


It’s rare to find the right combination of characteristics that create the perfect dining experience: a beautiful restaurant, a magnificent view, an outstanding menu and impeccable service. We found it at Il Gabbiano, located in downtown Miami. 


Sitting on Biscayne Bay, Il Gabbiano affords a breathtaking view of the Miami Beach skyline. The restaurant is contemporary and sleek in décor. White cloths adorn tables set at a discreet distance. Sideboards laden with baskets of colorful fruits and vegetables, cheeses and rare wines immediately whet the palate.


Whether you dine inside or out, during the day or in the evening, Il Gabbiano provides a beautiful view of the Miami skyline.


Before menus were presented, a server brought an enormous wedge of well-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, prying off large chunks for our indulgence and then pouring thick aged Balsamic vinegar. He immediately followed with classic bruschetta with ripe, sweet tomatoes and basil on perfectly toasted baguettes. After placing our cocktail order, we perused a menu that offered options for every craving, from antipasti to salads, soups, pasta, risotto, veal, poultry, beef and fresh fish. Making an ultimate decision even more difficult, our waiter listed the specials for the day.


Our starters included Stracciatella Fiorentina, a rich chicken broth laden with sautéed escarole and eggs; others enjoyed the Insalata Gorgonzola e Pere, blending flavors of tender greens, ripe pear and Gorgonzola cheese.  Grilled calamari was tender and perfectly seasoned.


I ordered the special risotto, made with freshly caught langoustines, prepared with house-made shellfish stock, perfectly enhanced with a hint of Parmesan cheese. Others at our table had the Vitello alla Zingara, a large grilled veal chop, served with capers, tomatoes and anchovies on a bed of creamy polenta. The Bucatini alla Matriciana, a robust pasta in a rich sauce, blending slowly cooked tomatoes, wine, basil and a subtle hint of smoked bacon, was a welcome departure from classic spaghetti with marinara.


As our plates were cleared, our server quietly rolled fresh table linen that was deftly placed over the used linen on our table, barely interrupting conversation. We chose one dessert for the table – Tartuffe – a classic combination of rich, creamy vanilla and dense chocolate gelatos, formed into a ball, frozen hard and covered with a hard shell of chocolate. Quartered and laid on a bed of Zabaglione – a custardy sauce, accented in this case with a hint of rum – and drizzled with chocolate sauce, it was the perfect finale to a wonderful meal.


While I have enjoyed service of this level in the past, there was one more surprise. When requesting a refill of coffee, they brought fresh, warm cups for the second pour. The service was never rushed or obtrusive, always courteous and friendly. The restaurant offers an extraordinary wine list, and menu prices, while not inexpensive, are fair for the level of quality and service received.


When in Miami, and looking for a memorable evening, consider Il Gabbiano, located at 335 South Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Reservations are necessary, and calling well in advance is suggested. 305-373-0063, info@ilgabbianomia.com


Text by Susan L. Jones, a restaurant reviewer with a sophisticated palate and a frequent restaurant diner in the Valley and around the world. As Susan comes across noteworthy dining experiences, she will share them with azredbook.com readers.

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