The impeccably appointed dining room transported us to glamour of the 40's and the golden age of Hollywood. One can picture Humphrey Bogart and Aristotle Onassis sipping dry martinis at the elegant bar. Designed by Italian architect, Michele Bonan, the nautical theme, rich walnut-paneled walls, pristine white tables and floor to celling glass windows, provide spectacular views of Biscayne Bay.
No visit to Cipriani Downtown would be complete without trying the Bellini ($17). It is said that the Bellini was first served in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, at Harry's Bar in venice. The cocktail is made up of a puree of white peaches and Cipriani Prosecco wine.
As we settled into our booth of white leather and rich blue velvet, our waiter Mr. Giorgio, with his crisp white jacket and black bow tie, shared his knowledge of the daily menu and the history behind the legendary Cipriani family. The menu at Cipriani changes daily, but many of the signature dishes like the Carpaccio Alla Cipriani are always available.
We started with a trio of appetizers. Carpaccio Alla Cipriani ($24), drizzled with a combo of homemade mayo, horseradish, and touch of milk. Invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, at Harry's Bar in Venice, the carpaccio is buttery and melts in your mouth.
The Prosciutto "Di Parma" with mozzarella "di bufala" ($25) is aged for 18 months in temperature controlled rooms specifically for Cipriani restaurants. Each slice has a sliver of fat further enriching each bite with flavor. A simple dish with extraordinary flavor.
The last of the appetizers was the Mozzarella "di Bufala" with tomato and basil ($22). The heirloom tomatoes were dark, ripe, and sweet, with just the right amount of acidity. This contrasted well with the creamy texture of the Mozzarella which was drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
For our primo piatto (first course) we tried the Baked Green Tagliolini with Praga ham ($23) and Potato Gnocchi "Al Pomodoro" ($24). Followed by our main entrees of Butterflied Grilled Branzino with sauteed broccoli rabe ($32)and the Sashimi Beef with yuzu ponzu sauce, olive oil and sesame oil ($23)
The tagliolini was lightly toasted with butter before mixed with smoky, sautéed praga ham and a surprisingly light béchamel sauce. The dish is finished with Parmigiano-Reggiano and broiled until delicately crisp.
Potato Gnocchi "Al Pomodoro" ($24) was served with fresh tomato sauce and basil. Mr. Giorgio insisted that we enjoy the dish as the Italians do - topped with a freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. It may very well have been the best gnocchi we enjoyed. Each bite had the perfect amount of tender resistance followed by a light and creamy finish.
Butterflied Grilled Branzino with sauteed broccoli rabe ($32) is simply grilled and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. A fresh squeeze of lemon complete the perfectly prepared branzino.
Sashimi Beef with yuzu ponzu sauce, olive oil and sesame oil ($23) with its balanced flavor was a perfect complement to our mediterranean sea bass.
We saved a little room for dessert and tried the Tiramisu ($14), Homemade Vanilla Gelato served with pralines... and the Vanilla Meringue.
Tiramisu ($14) Housemade lady fingers are soaked in a combination of coffee and a touch of Havana Club rum, then layered with a blend of creamy mascarpone cheese and topped with shaved chocolate. Classic decadence with balanced flavor.
Homemade Vanilla Gelato served with pralines. On the first dip of our spoon, we just knew we were going to love the gelato. Creamy, light, and just the right amount of vanilla flavor!
The Vanilla Meringue was a deliciously light sponge cake layered with chantilly creme and covered with expertly formed stiff peaks of meringue.
Cipriani Downtown sets the bar high in Miami with their timeless elegance and outsanding service. The menu is simple, approachable, and well-suited for our warm climate. Collect your friends and set aside plenty of time to sip on bellinis in pure luxury.