Antica Mare Miami Review: A Taste of Tuscany
By Jessica Poitevien
Thoughts of Italy often evoke drool-inducing food fantasies, but if you can’t travel to the country itself, you can at least take your taste buds there thanks to Antica Mare Miami, a restaurant that specializes in Tuscan cuisine. And that’s exactly what I did when I joined other south Florida foodies, writers and bloggers for dinner at this waterfront venue.
I met my dinner companions by the bar and with a welcoming glass of Prosecco in hand, we made our way out to the back patio where we were seated at a table with a perfect view of Biscayne Bay. More wine was poured and as the sun began to set, soft lighting filled the patio and set the mood for the first course of our Italian feast.
Five dishes were set on the table, and to say that I immediately started salivating would be an understatement. Before I could dig in, though, Marco Betti, one of the masterminds behind Antica Mare Miami, came out to greet us and describe the food, including the proper order in which we should eat them.
Following the expert’s advice, I started with the Grilled Octopus which was drizzled in some of the best Extra Virgin Olive Oil I’ve had since I visited Tuscany myself! It was so delicious I was almost tempted to lick the plate clean, but instead I moved on to the Tuna Crudo. The raw, Sashimi Grade Tuna was fresh and topped with a generous helping of minced Black Truffle whose slight smokiness I could smell just from serving myself a piece.
I tried the Tuscan style meatballs next before moving on to what would be my favorite dish from the first course: Gemelli alla Fiorentina. The thick and twisted shape of the gemelli pasta was perfect for absorbing the flavors of the creamy sauce in which it sat, and the tossed in chunks of salty Prosciutto along with the Peas were a nicely added touch.
We finished the first course with a simple but delicious Arugula Salad topped with big shavings of strong Parmesan Cheese. It was a light ending to the first course, which we definitely needed in preparation for the second one. We took a little bit of a breather and then out came some more food.
With the second course came six more plates: oven roasted sage and rosemary potatoes, Tuscan style chickpeas with sage, rosemary and olive oil, oven roasted chicken breast with black truffle sauce, salmon sautéed with cherry tomatoes, olives, capers and other vegetables, spinach and ricotta cheese ravioli with meat sauce, and last but not least a plate of Penne con Gamberi Fra’ Diavola, -Penne Pasta with a spicy Tomato Sauce and Shrimp.
The second course was definitely heftier than the first, but it was also just as delicious. My favorite dish not only of the second course but also of the entire dinner was the Oven Roasted Chicken Breast with Black Truffle Sauce. Normally, I wouldn’t even order chicken breast from a restaurant out of fear of it being too plain or too dry, but this dish was not even remotely close to either of those adjectives.
The chicken was so perfectly soft and tender that cutting through it was almost like cutting through butter. As my knife did its job I could even see the juiciness of the chicken seeping out of every pore. The chicken alone was flavorful, but the black truffle sauce made it to die for.
The taste of the truffle was present but not overwhelming and the actual slices of Truffle in the sauce added a nice texture to the dish with what seemed like a slightly charred and crispy exterior and a soft interior. The Roasted Potatoes, which managed to stay crisp even though they were swimming in Black Truffle Sauce, were also a perfect complement to the chicken.
Dinner would have been incomplete without dessert, so for our third and final course we tried four traditional Italian desserts, including a tiramisu, of course. My favorite dessert, however, was the Panna Cotta con Salsa Frutti di Bosco drizzled with a sweet and tart wild berry sauce.
Panna Cotta is like a blend between pudding and jello but is made with a slightly sweetened cream and a hint of vanilla. The result is a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth dessert that is just the right amount of sweet and tangy.
Antica Mare Miami, a Tuscan restaurant, bar and wineshop, is located at 7999 NE Bayshore Court, Miami, FL 33138. For more information or reservations, call: 305-398-1001 or visit: anticamare.com.