Dining in a Secluded Villa in South Beach

Forte dei Marmi is a new secluded spot in South Beach's South of Fifth area, focusing on coastal Italian.Handout

The who: Two Michelin-starred chef Antonio Mellino and his son Raffaele head up Forte dei Marmi, this new SoFi spot.

Interior at Forte dei Marmi

The space: The restaurant’s name in Italian translates to “Fort of the Marbles” and also references a town in Italy, thus the former Cavalli space — a Mediterranean revival building — has been transformed by architect Chad Oppenheim into an elegant Tuscan villa. The second floor houses the “FDM Arts Club,” a space offering exclusive programming of talks, screenings, and concerts. For now the bar-lounge upstairs easily transitions from cozy pre-dinner drinks to an evening nightcap spot.

The dishes: Coastal Italian cuisine. The kitchen sources organic produce, farm-raised prime meats, and wild-caught seafood and fish. Prices are as posh as the setting with starters $18-$26 and mains $28-$48.
Start things off with the burrata salad accompanied by Sicilian tomatoes and wild arugula, or the tuna tartar dressed with avocado, capers and citrus gel.

Pasta dishes include a taglioni with stone crab and chili oil, cavatelli with clams, pecans and candied lemon and a smoke mozorella ravioli. Red snapper over zuchinni puree heads off the larger main courses, along with grilled Cornish chicken, glazed veal chop and a Tagliata de Manzo steak.

Desserts get artful with a white chocolate sphere offset by organic berries, ginger and raspberry sorbet. The “Peanut Butter Express” is made with a pistachio-olive oil cake and chocolate-coated dulce de leche.

Bottom line: The former Cavalli space in SoFi is reborn as a well-heeled Italian stunner.

Forte dei Marmi

150 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach