Friends were in town from New York recently, and we met them for dinner in the beautiful garden of Cecconi’s Miami Beach. I’ll get back to the dinner in a moment, but let me tell you how refreshing it is that I can make plans with someone three months ago for a specific date and place, a couple of weeks earlier set a time, and nobody had to reconfirm. We all just showed up when we were supposed to. No lengthy discussions, no alternatives, and no reconfirming again and again. Then again, we (the plan-makers) are both pretty particular about a lot of things, and scheduling is one of those things.
But enough about my obsessive need for an organized calendar, and on to important things: the meal. Cecconi’s dining room is a gorgeous outdoor garden. The night we were there it was a bit chilly (for Miami – it was about 70 degrees), so the roof was closed, but the trees were still lit up, and it was as beautiful as ever.
We started the meal with a bottle of Rivetto Langhe Nebbiolo and settled in for a leisurely evening. It was not until we finished dinner three hours later that my friend told me that when she made the reservation was told we had the table for exactly two hours. Nope. There was way too much good food and talking going on for that. Fortunately, that “rule” was not enforced. It would not have gone over well.
As we enjoyed our wine, we indulged in several appetizers. The zucchini blossoms with pesto and pine nuts were not only pretty but delicious. Of course, my favorite is always the baked gnocchi Romana with Gorgonzola cream sauce. Yum. Screw the diet; they are amazing. At least, it is a tiny portion. We also enjoyed the meatballs and an order of salmon carpaccio with pickled cucumber and jalapenos.
It’s good to have friends that encourage ordering something just because it sounds good.
Eventually, we moved on to entrees, and I, much to nobody’s surprise, had the lamb chops with salsa verde and watercress. Although the salsa was a bit overpowering, the four meaty chops were delicious. FKGuy enjoyed the whole flounder with lemon, capers, and tomatoes. It was delicious, although the guy that filleted the fish missed many bones. Our friends enjoyed the veal chop Milanese, pounded thin, breaded and incredibly tasty, as well as cavatelli with lamb ragu. The pasta was so good; I had to create a diversion to get a taste. But I persevered, and it was worth the effort.
Dessert came around, and both friends ordered the key lime pie. I was stuffed, so I ordered a glass of vin santo. FKGuy went with the very reasonable espresso. I should mention that we are Friends of Cecconi’s, so we get a great deal at half off on Monday nights, and this was, indeed, a Monday. Any night of the week, Cecconi’s is a safe bet for delicious food in a gorgeous setting. It’s perfect for feeling like you are on vacation (or, in the case of our friends, actually being on vacation.) Cecconi’s is located at the Soho Beach House at 4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach and is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.