Every year I like to choose my favourite restaurant in Miami and this year’s award goes to Osteria Morini, located in the new Kimpton Palomar South Beach Hotel at 1750 Alton Road. It is another NYC transplant by the Altamarea Group. This is the team that is behind Marea and Ai Fiori, two Michelin star-rated restaurants ranked among New York’s finest. Morini has sister restaurants in New York City, New Jersey, Long Island, and Washington D.C.
The executive chef is Bill Dorrler, who has launched all of the Morini restaurants, and chef de cuisine overseeing Miami is Julio Cesar Ramos. Michael White, owner and head chef, is known for his succulent and amazing pasta dishes, some of the best I’ve ever had, so that was my impetus for running, not walking to this new eatery. I was not disappointed.
Overlooking the Collins Canal, the refined yet casual restaurant is located on the main floor of the hotel in a 3,700 square feet space. The dining room seats about 100 patrons, with bar seating for 15. The patio seats an additional 45 under large orange umbrellas, and is a perfect spot during these perilous times. The dining room is attractive, with picture windows overlooking the patio and canal. There is a small window into the kitchen at the back of the restaurant where you can see the chefs busy at work. Inside there are a lot of natural and organic elements, including beautiful wood slat design high ceilings, as well as wooden tables, chairs, and floors.
The menu highlights ingredients and dishes from Northern Italy’s Emilia Romagna region, also called “Italy’s breadbasket”. You are not getting “American-Italian” food here, but authentic Italian regional specialties. The entrees include chicken, market fish, duck, the wild catch of the day as well as items from the grill.
You can start with a wonderful charcuterie plate selection with a choice of one, three, or five options. We really enjoyed the sheep’s milk cheese, the black truffle, as well as the 24-month aged prosciutto di Parma, and the 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano (or “white gold”). Addtionally, we ordered the Parmigiano “gelato” cheese spread with aged balsamico, which came with tigelle, a warm Romagnoli flatbread, and rosemary orange butter. Next, there is a large selection of antipasti. The seafood salad is tender, delicate, and delicious. There’s a flavourful rendition of meatballs made with prosciutto and mortadella atop a Parmigiano fonduta in a splended Pomodoro sauce, served with grilled bread. There’s also calamari fritti, burrata, salads, and so on.
Osteria Morini’s star of the show is without a doubt the pastas – all made fresh in house – they melt in your mouth. The tagliatelle with a bolognese ragu is out of this world. The rigatoni in a wild mushroom ragu with black truffle, and the cappelletti filled with truffled ricotta, melted butter, and prosciutto also stoodout. And our guests raved about the pici alle vongole.
From the grilled section, we ordered the branzino, which is a grilled Mediterranean seabass lightly brushed with a salsa verde. We also tried three different desserts, a chocolate hazelnut mousse, an orange-scented olive oil cake, and a light key lime cheesecake adorned with a mango compote.
The cocktails were top-notch. I had one of the best Aperol Spritz of all times. Their wine program focuses on native flavours and varieties and the bar program showcases Italian spirits, beers, and a signature Negroni list. The wine list centers on sustainable wines from small, family-operated wineries that practice environmental protection, social responsibility, economic feasibility, and the highest quality wine production. We enjoyed Tuscan winery Tenuta Sette Cieli’s Yantra, a combination of Merlot and Cabernet, that was full-bodied, dry, and supple, with black currant, cedar, and dark chocolate undertones.
Our server Lorenzo was informative, friendly, engaging, and knowledgeable. Osteria Morini is a cut above the competition. I am already dreaming of my next return.