The goods: Locals can now dine at Miami’s most glamorous (and infamous) address with the recent opening of Loftin’s 1116 Ocean, the restaurant at Casa Casuarina, aka the former Versace mansion. The restaurant at the sprawling Italianate manse, now a boutique hotel, was, until now, only open to members and hotel guests. Seating is mostly al fresco, with candlelit tables flanking the wrought iron gates of the front terrace providing a cozy, palm-filled escape from the Ocean Drive fray. Additional seating is also available in the property’s central courtyard, surrounded by three-story balconies and, on rainy nights, indoors in the mosaic-tiled Medusa dining room.
The grub: Upscale Mediterranean fare. Chef Dale Ray, who has worked with culinary stars Michel Richard and Charlie Trotter, presides over the simply and unpretentiously prepared seafood-influenced menu. Prices are in keeping with the luxurious environs but on par with Miami’s high-end exclusive haunts. Starters and salads range $12-$24, mains $24 to $60 for a bone-in rib eye. A $175 platter of Kobe strip loin with shallot marmalade is also available for decadent meat lovers. Start with the filet tartar, assertively spiced with Szechuan peppercorns, cilantro and garlic and served with a side of yuzu mayonnaise. The fish selection includes cobia, whole black bass, swordfish and king salmon but don’t miss the Tokyo-grade tuna, the deep burgundy flesh pan-seared and served with pipérade, a Basque dish of sauteed onions, sweet peppers and tomatoes. Pasta fiends will relish the house made fettuccine with forest mushrooms, chantarelles and liberally sprinkled black truffle shards.
Desserts include high-end comfort food renditions such as the apple crumble, served in a copper pot and topped with vanilla ice cream. A citrus sampler of yuzu panna cotta, Key lime macaroon and Meyer lemon cake lives up to its refreshing name.
The verdict: Casa Casuarina’s palatial setting combined with an ambitious and equally opulent menu make Loftin’s 1116 the ideal romantic hotspot.
Loftin’s 1116 Ocean, 1116 Ocean Dr.; 305-672-6604; open Tue-Sat for dinner, 7-11 p.m.
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