Miami’s romance with Italian cuisine is as deep and robust as a perfect bottle of Chianti. From glamorous and sprawling spaces to classic and intimate nooks, here are some of our favorite options for indulging in the classic flavors of Italy this Valentine’s Day.
Salumeria 104At Salumeria 104, the delicate Prosciutto di San Daniele plays the primary love interest with other cured meats including Bresaola, Guanciale and Speck in strong supporting roles. Watch closely as the meat is cut manually with a Ferrari red slicer before it’s delivered to the table. It’s like theater at this Midtown trattoria, where chefs Angelo Masarin and Carlo Donadoni recreate the rustic splendor of life in Northern Italy night after night. Save room for the Cavatelli dish with house-made pasta shells, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce and fresh basil. It’s light enough to fuel you through a date that could (hopefully) go late into the night. (3451 NE 1st Avenue, #104, Miami; 305-424-9588; salumeria104.com.)
Dolce at the Gale South BeachBalance the excessive sweetness of Valentine’s Day with a handcrafted Negroni at Dolce, the Italian café and restaurant inside the Gale Hotel. The bitterness of the classic Florentine aperitif—comprising gin, vermouth, bitters and Campari—will prepare your palate for a night of authentic Italian fare. The smell of pizzas cooking in the wood-fired oven fills the sleek dining room, reminding guests that love in South Beach can still be expressed in the simplest way. (1690 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 786-975-2550; dolceitalianrestaurant.com.)
LorenzoLorenzo is the newest swanky Italian restaurant to hit the block. The lively and ultra-modern space in The Redbury Hotel is the first Miami location for celebrated chef Tony Mantuano of Chicago. For Valentine’s Day, the restaurant is offering a three-course prix fixe with one glass of champagne and illy espresso or tea for $110 per person. While there are several options for each course on the menu, we recommend the kale Caesar with soft-cooked natural egg and garlic breadcrumbs for the antipasti, the crescenza cheese-filled ravioletto pasta with brown butter, rosemary and Parmigiano-Reggiano for the primi piatti, and the gelato/sorbetti trio with seasonal flavor for dessert. Reservations required. (1776 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 786-483-1796; lorenzomiami.com.)
Lucali This Brooklyn-based pizza haven is home to discerning locals in Sunset Harbor. Join them on Valentine’s Day for a candle-lit meal at one of the small tables designed specifically for close talk. You’ll want to share an oversize pie and pair it with one of the small batch-limited production wines from Italy or a few brews from the impressive craft beer selection. Make no mistake—the pizzas at this unassuming spot are undeniably gourmet and coveted for the crust that is at once fluffy and thin, for the sauce that is even-keeled, and for the mozzarella cheese that retains just enough moisture to avoid a soggy assault on said crust. (1930 Bay Road, Miami Beach; 305-695-4441; firstname.lastname@example.org.)
MacchialinaChef Michael Pirolo, formerly of Scarpetta, makes magic happen with his longtime partner, Jennifer Chaefsky, at their small yet lively restaurant. The couple’s adoration for one another is palpable and contagious, and their tiramisu may be at the center of the universe. The chocolate crumbles provide a playful texture while the espresso granita, a frozen Italian dessert similar to the consistency of sorbet (think snow), elevates a traditional end to an unforgettable finale for you and your valentine. Reservations are a must. (820 Alton Road, Miami Beach; 305-534-2124; macchialina.com.)
Caffe AbbracciThe eclectic design at this Coral Gables landmark is almost as delectable as the food. The stunning stained-glass dome hovering over the bar will transport you to northern Italy as you and your date wait for a coveted spot in the romantic dining room. On Valentine’s Day, the scene is enhanced by the ultimate set of Italian music and a decadent dark chocolate mousse cake created especially for each couple. (318 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables; 305-441-0700; caffeabbracci.com.)