By Marla Horn Lazarus
“The Italian expression, ‘fare la scarpetta,’ describes the gesture of taking the little boot-shaped piece of bread to soak up the remaining sauce left in the pot of one’s home kitchen.”
At the helm, James Beard award recipient Chef Scott Conant offers a regional Italian menu combining the integrity of Italy’s cucina rustica with the refined flavors of fine cuisine amidst breathtaking unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean and beautifully lit pools. After 15 years of cooking some of New York’s favorite Italian cuisine, since 2008 the Fontainebleau has been fortunate to have Scott dedicate that same passion to the Scarpetta right here as it continues to receive rave reviews and an enthusiastic following that helped establish him as one of the country’s preeminent Italian chefs.
The Miami Beach Italian restaurant’s bold architectural features are just as captivating as the food. Wrap yourself in the sparkling elegance of the glass-enclosed veranda with nautical themes that highlight the casual dining areas and cocktail lounge. Scarpetta is adorned with floor-to-ceiling columns, reminiscent of coral or weatherworn driftwood, lining the windows to add an organic, sculptural element.
As we settled in, we began our Italian culinary journey with a refreshing cocktail, the Verona blends Grey Goose, St. Germain, white peach, rosemary and prosecco for a mouthful of peaches, herbs and fizzy citrus along with wonderful warm breads slathered with mascarpone butter. Our primi piatti or first course was a tantalizing array of luscious Creamy Polenta with a fricassee of truffled mushrooms as well as savory Braised Short Ribs of Beef with a vegetable and farro risotto. Irresistible Burrata is served with pesto, heirloom tomatoes, basil and arugula while the grilled Mediterranean Octopus is accompanied with potatoes, capers, olives and smoked crema. Roasted Diver Scallops, served with sunchoke, pickled radish and toasted pine nut gremolata was divine and the Steak Tartare with smoked mascarpone, preserved truffle and toasted filone burst with flavor.
All pastas are freshly made in house and we were treated to the outstanding Pici filled with wild mushrooms, asparagus and truffle sabayon and the succulent Tagliatelle with Maine lobster, tomatoes and tarragon. The Short Rib Agnolotti Dal Plin with horseradish, brown butter and bread crumbs as well as the Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Raviolini with sage, brown butter and pickled pear was a party in our mouths. There’s nothing like the perfectly classic Spaghetti with tomato and basil.
Our secondi piatti of amazing creations included the Olive Oil Poached Halibut, served with leek fonduta, pickled apple, scallion and walnut pesto and the Roasted Branzino with artichoke, olive, anchovy and tomato dressing and the Seared Snapper, served with fregola nero, fennel and shellfish brodetto. Tender Filet of Beef is served with glazed carrot, watercress and smoked bone marrow reduction, while the Veal Tenderloin with mushroom, corn, sage and prosciutto is wonderful.
Contorni (or side dishes), large enough to share feature an awesome selection of Roasted Autumn Vegetables with aged balsamic, Charred Broccolini in a lemon and anchovy vinaigrette, Crushed Marble Potatoes with olive oil and thyme and fragrant Seared Wild Mushrooms with lemon and herbs.
If you love cheese, like I do, then a selection of formaggio is a must. Along with crispy taralles, we devoured the Parmigiano Reggiano from Emilia-Romagna, served with aged balsamico. The Robiola Bosina from Piemonte is served with stewed figs, chamomile and honey and the Blue De Moncenisio, also from Piemonte is served with pears and walnuts
Along with our cappuccino and espresso, we satisfied our sweet tooth and indulged in the decadent Chocolate Caprese Cake with coffee cognac cremeux and gianduja gelato. The Warm Red Wine Pear Tart, served with spiced chantilly and pistachio gelato is incredible while the lusciously creamy Coconut Panna Cotta, served with caramelized pineapple and guava “soup” is superb. The Amedei Chocolate Cake with salted caramel sauce and toasted almond gelato is simply irresistible and the Torta Di Moscato with mascarpone crema and olive oil gelato was an ideal ending.
For an incredible fine dining experience overlooking the majestic ocean and poolside views, no visit to the Fontainebleau is complete without sampling Chef Scott Conant’s deft touch and unwavering passion to creating food that is unexpected and soulful. Share the experience at a leisurely pace at Scarpetta, perfect for any celebration, open nightly and reservations are recommended. Bon Appétit…
4441 Collins Avenue Miami Beach