The goods: There’s no shortage of Italian restaurants downtown but newcomer Sci Sci brings a swanky, loungey air to the pasta proceedings on Brickell. Locals may recall a restaurant of the same name (pronounced Shay-Shay) that closed in Coconut Grove about ten years ago. After decamping to Italy for a few years the owners returned to Miami and reopened this Brickell outpost aiming for a supper club vibe with a DJ booth by the bar and a semi-private wine cellar room. If you’re looking for a pre-dawn carb fix the restaurant is open until 4am on the weekends with a special late night menu of salads, paninis and pastas like spaghetti carbonara and mini-penne with Bolognese sauce.
Ambiance: Located on the ground floor of the 1060 condo building the sexy restaurant is awash in purples, reds and glossy blacks. Now that the weather has cooled down the spacious outdoor patio with orange couches is a nice backdrop to sharing a bottle of wine and a platter of antipasti.
The grub: Regional Italian cuisine. Prices are skewed to affluent condo dwellers: starters are $7-$14, pastas are $14-$20 and fish and steaks are $22-$35. It would be easy to dismiss Sci Sci as just another flashy restaurant looking to please cocktail-swilling scenesters but it seems that effort has been made to cater to people who want to eat – portions are generous and many of the pastas, including the ravioli and gnocchi, are made in-house.
Dinner starts with fluffy ciabatta rolls and olive oil. There’s a lengthy list of antipasti including a lightly-fried eggplant parmesan and assorted carpaccio – tuna, smoked salmon and swordfish as well as raw filet mignon. The pasta selection covers the classics – spaghetti with clams and garlic, papardelle in a four cheese sauce, risotto with porcini mushrooms – so go for the Ossobuco ravioli, a hearty serving of jumbo pasta pillows filled with slow-braised veal in a lemon butter sauce. If you’re in the mood for fish there’s the snapper Livornese served with sautéed shallots, tomatoes olives and capers or the traditional salt-crusted branzino served simply with roasted vegetables. Hefty meat dishes include a 14 oz. beef tenderloin and a Flintstones-worthy 16 oz. rack of lamb served with a rosemary-lentil sauce.
For dessert you can’t go wrong with the home made tiramisu, but skip the kitchen’s ill-conceived attempts at creativity (a grilled peaches and red pepper ice cream combo failed to impress). A fresh fruit salad splashed with limoncello is also a refreshing cap to a gut-busting meal.
Verdict: A clubby vibe and crowd-pleasing Italian classics await at this new downtown spot.