2.5 stars for Miami's Tutto’s Mare

Though Brazilian, the charming chef-owner of Tutto’s Mare extends his love of seafood across borders and continents, from spaghetti alla vongole to Creole shrimp in mashed yuca, with mostly good results. Joao Oliveira’s quirky, off-the-beaten-path spot in The Roads neighborhood is a place worth taking the whole family. An affordable, cut-above kid’s menu with rigatoni, chicken Milanese and real fish means you often seen several generations dining together.

Ambience: The low-ceilinged space with gray tile floors and tightly packed tables is clean and comfortable, fronted by a handsome blond-wood bar and freshly refurbished patio. The open kitchen is framed by cushy booths, swirly oil paintings and amber lighting.

What Worked

  • Neatly dressed servers that are friendly, knowledgeable and attentive in Spanish, English, Portuguese and Italian
  • Strong Latin American flavors
  • Some of the freshest and best-balanced ceviches I’ve had in Miami
  • A rather tame habanero ceviche with slices of tender corvina with celery sauce, plump kernels of purple corn and a perfectly golden medallion of fried plantain
  • Crispy ceviche topped with ringlets of calamari that add nice crunch and chewiness
  • A silken, well-seasoned & gorgeously lithe octopus leg topped with a briny olive tapenade and served alongside a boiled baby potato with sprigs of infant arugula
  • Exceptionally well done Spaghetti alla vongole with an intense sauce, fresh parsley and tender & tasty clams
  • Soul-satisfying arroz con mariscos loaded with pinky-sized shrimp, lobster, supple lozenges of white fish and baby black mussels in a tomato-tinged criolla sauce
  • Bacalao al la Portuguesa – tender, flaky, fist-sized hunk of fish bathed in a sweet tomato sauce & dotted with shiny kalamata olives
  • Jiggly panna cotta di maracuya with fresh, tangy bits of passion fruit

What Didn’t Work

  • A dense artichoke soufflé
  • Overly cheesy scallops gratinée
  • A flabby half Maine lobster served with chewy hanger steak
  • Freshly baked bread with a watery eggplant dip and an odd, off-putting aroma
  • A sprawling menu with more than 50 items including specials that could use editing
  • A ho-hum wine list
  • Uneven desserts
  • A so-called flourless chocolate tort that tasted like a ubiquitous chocolate molten cupcakes
  • Vanilla ice cream shot through with shards of ice