Miami Design District Opens Contessa
A glamorous modern take on classic Italian cuisine is the focus of Contessa Miami this week.
The newly opened Contessa takes some effort to stand out in a loud, flashy city like Miami. However, if anyone can do it, it is the newly opened Contessa. A new level of elevated dining is coming to Miami's esteemed Design District with Contessa Miami, belonging to the formidable Major Food Group (MFG), of Carbone fame.
A Boston location of Contessa opened last May, making it one of the biggest players on the east coast. As part of the ever-popular wave of Italian-inspired restaurants, Constessa (Italian for countess) injects some flashy elegance into their offerings, even though they have their roots firmly planted in the classics. A dazzling setting serves hearty, no-nonsense food.
“Contessa is an elegant and glamorous all-day anchor in Miami's most elegant but energetic neighborhood; it's designed to be a place to eat, drink, and celebrate into the night.” said MFG co-founder Jeff Zalaznick.
In the American culinary scene, Mario Carbone has established himself as a heavyweight as co-founder of MFG, a company with 40 restaurants. The richer, heartier cuisine of his mother's family in the north, where he grew up, and the varied, vibrant cuisine of his father's Sicilian upbringing are both entwined in his signature cuisine.
In his career, Carbone has worked in a variety of professional kitchens, including Daniel Boulud's NYC icon, Café Boulud, and a family-run establishment in Tuscany. Carbone, along with co-founders Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick, founded MFG in 2010. Since then, it has been home to countless culinary brands, including Sadelle's, Dirty French and Carbone.
During the last decade, the trio has transformed the restaurant world, not just in NYC, but worldwide, with Carbone in particular making a name for itself - getting a reservation in this city is like mining gold.
With a contemporary take on classic dishes, Contessa serves hearty fare inspired by northern Italian cuisine. Start off with a spritz or a negroni, followed by a selection of premium antipasti, such as beef carpaccio, octopus agrodolce, and tuna crudo.
There is a fine selection of pasta in the primi course, which includes dishes such as beautifully spiced lobster capellini, classic tortellini en brodo, silky carbonara, and rich garganelli Bolognese.
With a variety of heartier, more substantial dishes, such as veal Milanese, lamb chops scottadito, and a 40-ounce Bistecca Fiorentina steak, Secondi continues in the traditional vein. Taking some of the signature recipes from Contessa Miami's Boston sister's pizza menu for inspiration, Contessa Miami will also entice a new crowd with its pizza menu. There will be truffle with robiola cheese and prosciutto, and Calabrian cream with littleneck clams oreganata on the menu.
Wines are rooted in Italian tradition to complement the food menu. A few special labels from France and Northern America are thrown in as well, as well as labels from across the country's most famous winemaking regions, including Barolo, Barbaresco, and Lombardy.
While the Miami restaurant maintains the grand elegance of northern Italian design that has become so popular in Boston, it has stepped it up a notch in order to please Miami's glam crowd.
Guests are greeted with a vision of pink on the first floor of the restaurant, which is spread over two floors and features jewel tones, artfully contrasting textures and glittering finishes. The Venetian plastered ceiling is complemented by a flurry of carefully placed bespoke furnishings sandwiched between an intricately patterned Art Deco tile floor, surrounded by an intricately patterned Venetian plastered ceiling. Over the tables are magnificent Murano glass chandeliers, which cast a soft glow across the room. Walls are lined with vintage mirrors.
In addition to the tables, a grand curved staircase leads to the second floor, which was designed with the inspiration of an Italian lakeside villa from the 1960s. Despite the pink ceilings and Murano chandeliers from downstairs, high gloss, deep blue wall paneling offsets the Art Deco tiles with a warm herringbone floor.
Featuring a flashy bronze counter with palm-fringed chandelier and backlit mirrored shelves, this lavish bar commands attention. Its interior hints at Contessa Miami's bold ambitions.