Cecconi's earns a convincing 3 stars for the Soho Beach House
Soho Beach House, 4385 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
Hours: 7am- midnight daily (later on weekends)
Prices: Appetizers and salads $10-$20, entrees $26-$38, sides $10, desserts $12, cheese plate $15
FYI: Reservations (strongly advised) available two weeks in advance. Metered street parking; valet $3 for members, $12 for others. Sunday suppers for four with pizza, pasta and salad $50; two-course daily lunch special $16.
Soho House, the members-only British club with outposts from Berlin to New York City, arrived in Miami Beach in early October with the kind of slow, cool burn we haven’t seen since Casa Tua debuted nearly a decade ago. To say it is the hottest spot in town is like saying that Damien Hirst (known for suspending dead animals in formaldehyde) is a provocative artist. Only hotel guests and club members are allowed on the upper floors, but happily, Cecconi’s, the Italian restaurant on the first floor, is open to the public.
The executive chef is Sergio Sigala, the Brescia native who opened the aforementioned Casa Tua. His confidence and skill are reflected in nearly every dish, and the quality of the ingredients matches his talent. Inspired by Harry’s Bar in Venice, the menu may seem heavy for the tropics with its bean soups, cheesy raviolis and baked meatballs, but locally sourced salads and a bright carpaccio of fennel- and citrus-flecked snapper provide balance.
Ambience: Miami architect Allan Shulman and Swedish designer Martin Brudnizki have carved a gorgeously patinaed and irresistibly appealing space from the faded Deco gem that was the Sovereign Hotel. The overstuffed chintz and velvet chairs, dark woods, aqua and white tiles and custom rugs all look as though they’ve been there forever. The drawing-room portion of the dining area with mismatched chairs and low tables is anchored by a rather grand piano where someone was playing Billy Joel tunes one night. The real magic is in a tropical garden furnished with cushy, ice-blue upholstered chairs and banquettes alongside a burnished oak bar. Glass-jar lanterns and pin lights laced among the silver buttonwood trees cast a glow that makes everyone look good.
- A tartare with black truffle, quail egg and pecorino
- A delicious but dense Venetian carpaccio. Exceptional tomato-tinged spaghetti with hunks of buttery Maine lobster
- Hand-rolled agnolotti with classic sage
- Steaming pappardelle with a tomatoey beef ragu
- Whistling bucatini with eraser-size clams and frizzled lengths of zucchini
- Right on the mark mushroom risotto
- A delightfully homey half poulet rouge roasted until as bronzed
- Confidently handled & satisfying wild Alaskan salmon, roasted branzino and flaky black cod with melting hunks of sweet butternut squash
- Gorgeously charred tangle of meaty octopus served with lots of lemon over celery, peppers and black olives
- A vast international wine list with notes of brilliance & flashes of obscurity, albeit a whiff of pretension
- Decadent tiramisu and Key lime pie
- A finely wrought yogurt and apple crostata
What Didn’t Work
- Stumbling service – missing shell bowls, cheese and water
- 3 stars for fantastic bites and super sips at Coral Gables' Bulla Gastrobar
- 2.5 stars for gourmet Cuban classics at Gables’ Bread + Butter
- 2.5 stars for Miami's Tutto’s Mare
- 3 stars for Eating House in Coral Gables
- 2 stars for Vivaldino at the Gables’ Hotel St. Michel
- 2.5 stars for South Beach's Catch
- 3 stars for Kendall's "sexy, delectable" Devon Seafood + Steak
- 3 stars for stylish, homey Italian at South Beach's Dolce
- 2.5 stars for "spa-like Latin fusion" at Coral Way's Casabe 305
- 3.5 stars for South Beach's "excellent" PB Steak