The goods: Washington Avenue isn’t the most romantic of locations in the city, as oftentimes it feels like the street that gentrification forgot (at least when it comes to South Beach’s revival). But somehow the new iCorsini manages to create a secluded romantic getaway despite being ensconced in the urban fray. Housed in the former Baires Grill spot, this polished Italian newcomer makes good use of its spacious hedged-in garden filling it with plenty of lush greenery, flowers and dramatic outdoor lighting. The indoor dining room is comfortably outfitted in leather chairs offering views to the semi-open kitchen while a library-like private dining room evokes a Tuscan kitchen with potted herbs and cooking utensils.
The grub: Northern Italian farmhouse fare. This isn’t your typical red sauce joint, so be prepared for hearty dishes that incorporate tripe, wild boar and sea urchin. Prices are moderate given the restaurant’s upscale atmosphere. Starters are $7-$17, pastas rarely climb above $16, and steaks and fish generally fall in the $24-$40 range.
Chef Giuseppe Galazzi hails from Ferrara, Italy and honed his skills at Miami’s rustic Italian eatery Sardinia before striking out on his own with this restaurant. That influence is apparent in dishes like the tagliolini pasta with shaved bottarga (dried fish eggs) and a belly-filling papardelle with wild boar ragout. Adventurous eaters and offal enthusiasts will love the braised tripe seasoned with pine nuts and olives while those with more conventional palates may want to start the meal with a hearty bread-thickened Tuscan soup or the filet mignon tartar mixed with capers and anchovies. Delicate tortellone stuffed with pumpkin sauteed in butter, sage and pistachios are comforting on a cool night while a wooden board of mixed grilled lamb, skirt steak, chicken and sausage with roasted poatoes ought to satisfy equal-opportunity carnivores.
Verdict: With prices low enough to warrant repeat visits and a date-friendly courtyard, iCorsini is a hidden gem on Washington Ave.
iCorsini, 560 Washington Ave, (305) 531-2323. Open daily 12pm-midnight.
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