The who: Chef Tony Mantuano, who made his name at Chicago’s Spiaggia, brings his sophisticated take on Italian cooking to South Beach with Lorenzo.
The room: On on the ground floor of the new Redbury Hotel, the dining room is awash in brown leather, wood, and chrome. Original terrazzo flooring and giant pillars evoke the property’s Deco past, while a raised mezzanine provides cozier seating. A gelato and coffee bar in the back is open for quick scoops and espresso drinks. A raised open kitchen hosts a massive Corvette-red Italian wood-burning oven that turns out pizzettes and other baked goods.
The bar: The marble square, which takes up one side of the room, is perfect for solo diners or for taking in the buzzing dining room. Cocktails, by Michael Jack Pazdon of Napa Valley's Goose & Gander, include twists on Italian favorites. The wine program is overseen by Cathy Mantuano, the chef’s wife, whose list offers more than 100 bottles and two dozen wines by the glass.
The dishes: Handmade and imported dried pastas, pizzettas, hot and cold antipasti, crudo and, from the grill, meats and fish and seafood. Prices are typical for South Beach with starters $12-$20, pizzettes $11-$15 and mains $20-$52.
Munch on homemade chips dusted with licorice seasoning and beef-stuffed olives while you peruse the menu. Tempting starters include grilled octopus with baby potatoes finished in sambuca and spreads of smoked mahi and Tuscan liver (made with a touch of foie gras and amarena cherries). The caprese salad is made with local heirloom tomatoes plus Campari tomatoes lightly blanched in sugar, while the kale Caesar comes with a soft-poached egg.
Pastas include Spaghetti a la Nadia and ravioletto, a single cheese-filled pasta pillow bathed in brown butter and topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Hefty appetites will appreciate the 24-ounce Porterhouse or bone-in rib-eye. Seafood like Nigerian prawns are grilled and simply finished with olive oil and sea salt, while scallops come with guanciale and polenta.
The bottom line: Lorenzo could be just what South Beach has been waiting for: a comfy, laid-back spot where you can order a few antipasti, share homemade pasta and sip wine by the glass.