Monday, January 28, 2013

Cecconi's at the Soho Beach House

Photo Courtesy of Cecconi's
Photo Courtesy of Cecconi's
The beautiful weather in Miami is meant to be enjoyed, and when it's January and the temperature is in the 70s, there's nothing like having lunch outdoors. There's a place in South Beach called Soho Beach House; a private members club, hotel and spa, situated in the historic site of the Sovereign Hotel at 4385 Collins Avenue. The Soho House was initially founded in London in 1995 as a private club for those in the entertainment industry. Since its inception, Soho House has grown to include other Houses in Europe, as well as in North America. Miami Beach's exclusive location has 50 bedrooms, its own private beach, gym, screening room and two pools; along with indoor and outdoor dining.


Photo Courtesy of Cecconi's
Amazing ambiance
It is here, in this picturesque setting that I came for lunch last week with some new foodie friends. Just like the properties in London and West Hollywood, the Soho Beach House offers Venetian-inspired dishes in its Italian restaurant Cecconi's. Cecconi's was the dream-come-true for Enzo Cecconi,  the youngest ever general manager of the Cipriani in Venice. It was a hot spot for celebrities and royalty alike. After 21 years, Cecconi's closed but within a year, it opened under new management. In 2005, Soho House took full ownership and revitalized the popular venue.

With Chef Sergio Sigala in this Fall's Italian Culinary
Experience with Casa Vinicola Zonin


Cecconi's serves traditional Italian cuisine daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and although Soho Beach House is a private club, the restaurant is open to the public. Located in a beautiful garden courtyard surrounded by Silver Buttonwood Trees and miniature lights, the place is reminiscent of an Italian trattoria in Tuscany. At the helm of Cecconi's, is renowned Executive Chef Sergio Sigala. I had the opportunity to experience a taste of Chef Sigala's culinary talent during a wine pairing event with Casa Vinicola Zonin back in September of 2012  (Read about it at Italian Culinary Experience hosted by Casa Vinicola Zonin). Born in a small village in Northern Italy, Chef Sigala has had a passion for cooking since the age of 13. His vast experience in the kitchen started by simply observing his mother and grandmother create their dishes, and went on to include his graduating at the top of his class from culinary school. He spent years training in renowned restaurants in Europe, including Michelin-starred Al Bersagliere in Goito, Italy and Ristorante Villa Fiordaliso in Lake Garda, Italy. You may recognize Sigala from Casa Tua in Miami Beach, which he opened in 2000, and served as Executive Chef.


Goat Cheese & Black Truffle Pizza
Beef Tartare
Once I basked in the ambiance for a few minutes, I looked over the menu. There were several dishes that sounded interesting so we ordered a few to share. My personal favorite was the Goat Cheese & Black Truffle Pizza.  The melted goat cheese worked perfectly with the truffle, creating an ecstasy of flavors that blew me away. I also tried the Beef Tartare made with celery and pecorino, topped with a quail egg and served with crostini. Anytime I see a dish on the menu that comes with a quail egg, I have to have it. I was very glad I did. The beef was fresh and the mix was flavorful; an excellent formula for a refreshing lunch time plate.


Branzino
Risotto
We also shared the Branzino, topped with a colorful blend of taggiasca olives, tomatoes and capers. The Branzino was perfectly seasoned and remarkably tender. I enjoyed the harmony of flavors found in the union of the fish and the seared vegetables. Our waitress recommended we try the Risotto with butternut squash, speck and fontina cheese. The taste was mild, but the risotto's texture was rich and creamy.


Tiramisu
Panna Cotta
It was time for the Dolci finale of the meal and I was ready. We ordered the Tiramisu and the Vanilla Panna Cotta. The Tiramisu was a testament to its name; a true "pick me up" of semi-sweet cool creaminess. The Vanilla Panna Cotta was outrageous! Layered with caramel, crumbled cookies, and a sprinkle of sea salt, the combination was pulsating. It's no wonder I love Italy so much.


La Dolce Vita
Photo Courtesy of 
Cecconi's
Chris Ojeda
Photo Courtesy of Cecconi's
Lunch was a fabulous adventure of great new friends, wonderful food, and excellent service in a charming ambiance. I can't wait to return. Rumor has it Cecconi's has an incredible brunch and I plan on telling you all about it very soon. And if you need to unwind on Friday, Chris Ojeda, Creative Bar Director of Soho House, has concocted a number of new cocktails using locally-sourced ingredients that will help you welcome the weekend in style. For more information, visit Cecconi's at http://www.cecconismiamibeach.com/ or call them at 786-507-7902.



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