It’s not always easy being the new kid in town. Especially when you are pretty, smart and used to getting what you want. The heavy accent doesn’t help. When Fuor d’Acqua tiptoed into South Beach this summer while all the cool kids were out of town, this sexy Italian import didn’t really didn’t make the splash it should have.
Fuor d’Acqua, literally “out of water” is part of the it crowd in its original location in Florence where it is a mecca for seafood lovers. Though it is stunningly beautiful with its rich marble floors, crisp white tablecloths and shimmery blue accents, so far it seems little appreciated at least on weeknights, except by a few loyal diners (mostly Italian speakers) who appear after 9 o’clock. The high prices including appetizer portions of pastas up to $30 could account for the cold shoulder, but the food is exquisitely, almost deceptively excellent. Much of it is imported, which accounts for the increased cost.
The menu is not your usual calamari and Caesar salad deal. In fact, it includes lots of more interesting and refined options including seared shrimp in a balsamic and peanut reduction or a carpaccio of prawns with strawberry sauce. Truthfully, it could use a good translator and editor to make things clear. For example, we ordered what was described as a lentil mousse, expecting an airy and light creation but found instead a hearty puree of lentils topped with snappy red shrimp imported from Sicily.
Ambience: The restaurant is vast, more like a nightclub than a place for a serious Italian dinner. It’s multiple dining rooms and magical, twinkling outdoor patio has been many places over the past several years but most memorably Sport Café in one of its incarnations. The space is a sea of cool white surfaces with whimsical details like large paintings of jellyfish, huge white mirrors and a sequin shark sculpture overseeing the whole affair.
- A tightly edited, Italo-centric wine list that has plenty of options at decent price points, including fine by-the-glass selections.
- Gorgeously executed pastas
- Traditional Neapolitan paccheri (slaps) – wide, hollow tubes with a delightful rosy sauce dotted with melty, sweet cherry tomatoes and tender thumbs of gently seared white reef fish
- Rich and elegant ragu, a secret of grandma Dani, served with a short, penne-style ridged mezzemaniche (short sleeves) that clings to the luscious meat sauce
- Frittini – a platter of pinky-sized, head-on prawns, octopus and paper-thin strips of sweet potato gently battered and fried with just lemon and salt to bring out the sea flavor
- Large & fresh salads
- A salad with ribbons of freshly shaved fennel and segments of just peeled oranges in a dressing so light it’s ivisible
- A tender, bright pink & juicy thin cut T-bone steak that was better than any we have tried at area steakhouses
- A mound of golden potato quarters
- An outstanding but simple pistachio and hazelnut semi-freddo, sweet and creamy ice cream like planks of nutty richness
covered with a chocolate syrup rendered solid from the cold and dotted with roasted, crushed mixed nuts
- A staff that is friendly, sharp and unobtrusive
What Didn’t Work
- Severl dishes that suffer from too heavy a hand with the salt shaker, including an otherwise stunningly fresh branzino with tomatoes and potatoes