Dine Like A Tuscan Upperclassman
Forte dei Marmi, helmed by Two-Michelin Star Chef Antonio Mellino, brings authentic Italian fare to the United States
By Robin Jay
Since the 18th century in northern Tuscany, tourists from the Italian upper class have flocked to the Forte dei Marmi sea town ‘to breathe healthy air and to sandbathe.’ Meaning Fort of the Marbles (referring to the Carrara stone quarried from the Alpi Apuane mountains), a touch of Forte dei Marmi has come to Miami Beach, with international foodies flocking to taste the simple sensorial epicurean cuisine of Two-Michelin Star Chef Antonio Mellino.
The Northern Tuscany Dining Experience
All guests here are treated with white-glove service, as if they might be the next undercover critics on assignment from the coveted Michelin Guide, which rates the globe’s finest restaurants. A lucky few may earn one star. Chef Antonio Mellino has earned two stars.
Shortly after the start of sunset, when the maître d’ seated us at a quaint porch-front table, the silver-flocked Chef Antonio – just having landed in Miami from London and still clad in his crisp white Oxford and stylish denim – sat down to join us for a flute of bubbling prosecco.
“Welcome to Forte dei Marmi,” he greeted in his charming Italian dialect. “I’m pleased to share with you tonight some of my favorite dishes I have created along with my son Raffaele. We prepare our pasta from scratch from the finest imported Italian ingredients, our fish is fresh and wild caught – may I suggest the branzino – and we prepare our desserts from the heart.”
Let The Feast Begin
Soon from the kitchen arrived a parade of authentic Italian dishes. We started with calamari ‘tagliatelle’ with petrossian caviar and lemon zest, followed by tuna tartare with ‘tonno pinna gialla’, avocado, baby capers and citrus gel, and then vitello tonnato with hazelnut mayo, arugula, parmesan, corn ‘taco’. Next arrived tagliolini with Alaskan crab, cherry tomatoes and chili oil, shadowed soon by Mediterranean Branzino Zucchini filet with artichoke puree, spring onion and new potato chips. For dessert, we delighted in the home-churned pistachio gelato, served in a natural-cut travertine bowl from San Pietro marble quarry in Italy.
Forte dei Marmi is located at 150 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, in the intimate 1938 Mediterranean revival building meticulously restored by acclaimed architect Chad Oppenheim in collaboration with Milan-based fabricator Henry Timi.
For reservations, call (786) 276-3095 or visit OpenTable.com.