Don't get mislead by the name "wine bar". The place is a full scale restaurant. It has a peculiar layout, elongated, sort of large scale bistro. The decor is very homey and warm, from the lights to the stone in the walls. Comfortable, relaxing, looked like we were on to something good.
The waiter served some complimentary olive oil and olives: can't go wrong with that!
Wine: I found a good offering at $40.00 for a Dolcetto D'Alba "Pio Cesare", 2011. It's a red that I would define medium bodied, with a consistency and thickness that might resemble some Sangiovese. It was a good bottle, not outstanding but good and at good price, especially if you consider we are in Miracle Mile, Coral Gables (when will you learn, West Palm Beach and Boca??).
We met one of the owners, Tullio, Canadian of Italian origins (he speaks good Italian) and he was very nice and came to our table several times. The nice conversation we had with him made the red wine taste even better, as always.
Ambience, service and atmosphere all get a point in favor. Little minus when it comes to details: no salt and pepper on the tables.
Appetizer: arugula with endive, sliced portobello mushrooms in lemon vinagrette. It was good, not excellent, it needed a little salt and pepper, it was well thought, but slightly bland. Actually, "bland" sounds too bad, let's say it needed a bit of personality. But hey, it's a green salad and it is supposed to be light (I was still half full from the night before at Caffe Vialetto - see my review on that if you wish).
I then ordered Farfalle (butterfly shaped pasta for those 3 readers who don't know) with spinach and capers. Let me tell you something: it was fresh, nicely balanced and what I needed as I was looking to eat something lighter than the night before. It was a very nice dish, the pasta perfectly al dente. Note: we had to wait some time to get it, so it looks like they do less pre-cooking than other places. Another plus!
Even better was my wife's entree. She ordered one of the specials, and it was Orata with mashed potato and spinach. I know Orata from Italy, in Trieste it's a classic fish and this one was up to par with those we used to get on the east side of the Atlantic: tender, tasty meat, little dressing, as it should be, and it was really a hit. Nice job with the potatoes and spinach as well: simple things, but well done and with some care.
By the way, Orata (Dorada if you are hispanic) is the gilt-head sea bream. It is not a sea bass, as some places will tell you. The European Sea Bass is called branzino, another great fish... but now I am wandering around.
Dessert was a tiramisu version that they make, which has ice cream inside. Not the original thing, but it was good and refreshing.
After dinner, came the espresso and we enjoyed some Grappa, which was perfect and was I expect they have in Italian restaurants that want to be considered "Italian". The grappa Brunello was my favorite, so after dinner we sat outside at another table in a breezy, cool night and sipped though a few shots of the distilled liquor.
A great experience, good service, great food, grappa (hey, I am Italian, it is a plus factor for me) and we met Tullio as said, one of the owners, very nice guy and we will definitely be back there next time we are in Miami.
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