Escopazzo closes in South Beach after 21-year run

A recent tweet-tip about the closing of Escopazzo, chef-owner Giancarla Bodoni’s landmark Italian restaurant in South Beach, turns out to be true. No one picks up the restaurant’s phone, its website is disabled, and the photo on this post of Escopazzo’s entrance at 8:30 Thursday night shows a dark, closed dining room with an errant shopping cart parked in front.

“Yes indeed,” Bodoni confirms to “Working on a new project.”

Escopazzo’s 21-year run in the heart of South Beach is impressive, given the area’s predilection for flash-in-the-pan new restaurants frequented by celebrities and fawned over by bloggers. More impressive still: Escopazzo managed to maintain its warm, welcoming, transport-you-to-another-world feel — and higher-than-average menu prices — despite being next door to smoke shops, smut shops and other seediness.   

And Escopazzo didn’t make it by slinging cheap noodles and red sauce; Bodoni was cooking organic food, including raw and vegan dishes, before anyone in Miami buzzed about that stuff.

Giancarla and her then-husband, Giuseppe “Pino” Bodoni, opened Escopazzo at 1311 Washington Ave. in 1993. They hired an Italian chef to run the kitchen, but Bolivian-born Giancarla Bodoni took over cooking duties in 1997. That year, the restaurant earned a four-star “exceptional” review from the Miami Herald, a rating it retained in a 2004 re-review:

“Escopazzo … has been a haven for foodies since opening a decade ago,” critic Victoria Pesce Elliott wrote. “It doesn’t get the attention of newer, more glamorous spots on South Beach, but that’s all the better for those in the know. [Escopazzo is] the best high-end Italian food on the Beach.”

In the past few years, Bodoni has been a consulting chef for Monteverdi, a luxury hotel and villas in Tuscany. Stay tuned for updates about her next project.