Ask any Italian chef in Miami to name their favourite Italian restaurants in the city and they are sure to include Toscana Divino on their list. I’ve always meant to try this 5-year-old restaurant located at 900 South Miami Avenue, in the heart of Mary Brickell Village, but for some reason, I just never made it down there until now. The 150 seat restaurant was a hit for me. I never understand why everyone always raves about Il Gabbiano or Il Mulino. I always found the food to be subpar there. I travel to Italy every summer and I really savour the food there. I don’t want “American-Italian” food, I want authentic Italian food.
Toscana Divino opened in 2012. The decor is modern with high glass windows, dim lights and a hip vibe. A central glass wine cellar dominates the contemporary interior. You can also choose to sit outside among the buzz and bustle of The Mary Brickell Village crowd.
The menu offers a section of traditional Tuscan fare and a section of “moderna” fare that combines unlikely ingredients with classic dishes, using new technology and unexpected, sophisticated presentations. This is all done under the watchful eye of executive Chef Andrea Marchesin. We had the pleasure of speaking with the chef and you can see how passionate he is and how important it is for the restaurant to embrace the “farm to table” movement. He believes in providing quality, flavour, and freshness in the ingredients and it can be consistently observed in the artisanal approach, “Fatto in Casa”, the tradition of making everything possible in-house. Everything else is imported from Italy. The restaurant was named, ‘Best New Restaurant in Miami’ a few years ago by the Miami New Times, and I can see why. Another good sign, there were Italian patrons dining there.
It is not my favourite part of town, I find it too touristy, but if you can overlook this, you will be in for a treat.
We started with a trio charcuterie plate. You get to choose 3 items from their list and we went with the fresh homemade ricotta, the 18 month Parmesan Reggiano, and the Parma ham. I drizzled the cheese with a syrupy balsamic vinegar from Modena that was outstanding. I am a pasta lover so I had to see how the kitchen performed and they did so with flying colours. The pici senesi is a delicious homemade hand-rolled pasta that was perfectly cooked with an aromatic and robust duck leg ragu and grated with pecorino cheese. It is a standout signature dish for me. However, I was also seduced by the homemade tagliatelle al burro di parmigiano which is tossed in Parmesan water, with loads of butter and then grated with French Périgord black truffles (white truffles had just finished their season) … to die for! We didn’t try the world famous “Fiorentina” porterhouse steak, which is also one of their signature dishes.
The predominantly Italian wine list is carefully curated and showcases some of Italy’s best wineries. They also offer a nice selection of wines by the glass.
For our final course, the chef sent out a pistachio trio, cake, gelato and panna cotta. We also had some ricotta cheesecake with pine nuts and lemon peel.
The ever attentive GM Mauro Bortignon has trained the staff to perfection. From the moment we walked in until we left, everyone from the hostess to the waitstaff and managers were professional, friendly, courteous and knowledgeable. My one complaint was the music was too loud for me for this type of restaurant and fine dining. Otherwise, I found the dishes to be well constructed and I felt I was getting a real authentic Italian dining experience. It is a little slice of Italy in downtown Miami.