Thursday, 1 March 2007

Frasca comes to Florida!

The owners of Il Bagatto in New York City - an unbelievable Italian restaurant in the East Village, and the subject of another post shortly, introduced me a couple of years ago to a wonderful friend of theirs, Luciano "Frasca" Maddii in Levane, Italy, just outside of the the town of Montevarchi (best known as the home of the Prada outlet). Tucked away on a winding rustic road is an idyllic compound on the Ambra river that houses Frasca's refined and sterling ristorante and inn, "La Valle dell'inferno da I' Frasca." The food is Tuscan using the highest quality ingredients and outstanding technique. Bistecca Fiorentina is enormous and possibly the best I've ever had - the perfect marriage of momentarily seared beef, olive oil, and salt. Fish dinners involve plate after plate of the freshest seafood in simple, exquisitely flavored preparations. Pastas are sumptuous and copious. The wine cellar is packed with gems. If you find yourself in Tuscany, you simply have to make the trek. 055 9180031.

And here's the good news:

If you don't get to Montevarchi quarterly (ah, that we all could) Frasca has now opened his first North American outpost near Miami in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ristorante Da I' Frasca is located at 3145 Commodore Plaza (305 443 3142) in the main commercial section of the Grove. I was lucky enough to get there twice over a recent long weekend, and was thrilled to find that the food is (not surprisingly) up to Frasca's same fantastic standards. Frasca happened to be in the U.S. at the time we were there, and he has a partner here, Marco, who is from Pisa. Antipasti of crostini and salumi were excellent. Spaghetti was cooked true al dente, reminding me how overcooked almost all American pasta is, and serve amatriciana -- delicious. The tagliata di manzo was perfectly seared (almost still kicking) and drizzled with Lussini olive oil. It couldn't have been more tender. The second dinner was fish, starting with an warm octopus and potato salad that was delicate and wonderful, and a tuna tartare with finely minced carrot, celery and lettuce. Fusilli with lobster and fresh tomato was again delicious, followed by steamed Alaskan king crab legs with a touch of the same wonderful Lussini olive oil. Wines included a recent Brolio chianti that was perfect. Desserts were also outstanding. Tiramisu, panna cotta, chocolate mousse and zuppa inglese all done wonderfully. The restaurant is casually elegant, a place appropriate for a romantic meal or for business. In short, this is one of those rare places that takes you to Italy without needing a passport. I can't wait to go back.

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