By Victoria Pesce Elliott
Tom Billante has done it again, this time at the 260-seat indoor-outdoor restaurant behind Coconut Grove's beloved old Taurus. His casual, Italian-themed seafood spot with its large, well-priced menu is a crowd pleaser. Calamari's selection of carpacci, pastas, salads, soups, pizzas and entrees is nearly identical to the ones at his other successful venues such as Il Villagio, Carpaccio, Bella Luna and Rosalia. But here, as the name indicates, he has added a bit more from the sea.
Though the sprawling space is largely unchanged from its stint as Cefalo’s Wine Cellar, it suddenly seems to work. Perhaps it’s because of the friendly staff, capably supervised by New York and South Beach veteran Salvatore Catania. The space has many personalities. There is the lively bar, a cozy row of tables near the open kitchen and a romantic (but buggy) terrace surrounding a fountain. Tables are set with white cloths over red and white checked cloths, evoking a seaside picnic.
What Didn’t Work
Calamari: 3540 Main Hwy, Coconut Grove; 305-441-0219; Hours: 11:30 am-11:30pm daily. Prices: Appetizers $5-$13, entrees $16-$21, dessert $6-$8. Monday lobster night special $19.95.
FYI: Reservations suggested only for groups of six or more. Full bar; corkage $10. Free valet and plentiful metered street parking. AX, DS, MC, Primecard, VS.
This is a Tuna Tartare made by Chef Alex Lopez at the Calamari Restaurant. Photo: Peter Andrew Bosch.