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As I wrote about here, we’re in Miami for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF®). I won the tickets to A Taste of Italy as part of a Marriott Bonvoy Moments™ package. From SOBEWFF®:
In true SOBEWFF® fashion, we’re putting a brand new spin on one of our most popular events! For this walkaround tasting in Miami’s Design District, we’ve enlisted Marra Forni – the brand responsible for producing the world’s most authentic handcrafted brick ovens – to help us turn up the volume on all things Italian! Join chef, author, restaurateur, and Food Network superstar Giada De Laurentiis for this wood-fired feast that’s anything BUT a pizza party! Sure, there will be pizza but that’s just the beginning. We’re rounding up a dozen all-star chefs, all of whom can’t wait to serve you all of their Italian favorites – everything from cheesy baked pastas to decadent dishes cleverly reimagined for brick oven cooking. Complete with exceptional wines and Italian-inspired cocktails, this stylish Italian soirée is your sure-fire way to enjoy the Festival weekend!”
Giada De Laurentiis has been the Italian ambassador to the Food Network seemingly since its infancy and has been a longtime presence at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. 810 guests packed into Jungle Plaza in the gorgeous Design District (here you’ll find just about every luxury brand in block after block of high-end shops). We arrived around 7:45 PM and found a line snaked around the block.
The line quickly opened up into the event and once inside there was plenty of space and seats if you quickly grabbed one. There were some great dishes here including some restaurants like Timpano (review here) and Forbici Modern Italian (review here) where we have recently dined. Sponsors included Aperol (my husband’s favorite) and San Pellegrino (mine). Here are the bites we tasted.
Slow-Braised Lamb Belly “Pancetta-Style” with black cherry agrodolce and creamy polenta from Timo Restaurant in Sunny Isles, FL.
Caviar Burrata Garlic Bread from Scampi in New York, NY.
Pork Belly Pampanella with Calabrian chili agrodolce, walnuts, and parsley from Rose Mary in Chicago, IL.
Porchetta Trevigiana served over milk bread with salsa verde from Salumeria 104 in Coral Gables, FL.
Yesenia’s Homemade Meatballs in Sunday Sauce from Randazzo’s by Yesenia in Key Biscayne, FL.
Pizza Romana – Cup & Char with premium cured pepperoni, pomodoro, mozzarella, and parsley as well as Firebird (quattro formaggi, Calabrian Buffalo chicken, Parmesan ranch, and green onions) from Forbici Modern Italian in Tampa, FL.
Chiodini e Brie (mozzarella, brie, Nameko mushrooms, sausage, and baby spinach) from Spris Artisan Pizza in Miami, FL.
Lobster Fra Diavolo Focaccia from Bill Hansen Luxury Catering in Opa Locka, FL.
Carmine Cheese Pizza from Eleventh Street Pizza in Miami, FL.
Parm to Table from Timpano in Las Olas, FL.
Gnocchi Mac & Cheese (duck fat-seared gnocchi with smoked gouda, pork belly, and breadcrumbs) from Silverlake in Miami Beach, FL.
White Sturgeon Italian Caviar by Calvisius from Tita Italia in Miami, FL.
Saffron Arancini with Pecorino al tartufo and Wagyu beef bolognese from Prime Italian in Miami Beach, FL.
Pepperoni & Hot Honey with Pickled Shishito Peppers as well as Cacio e Pepe from Pizzella in Miami Beach, FL.
Sunchoke Zeppole and Heirloom Tomato Salad (with stracciatella cheese, heirloom tomatoes, basil, and pangrattato) from Sofia in Miami, FL.
We tried every dish except the defrosted, prepackaged cake slices from Carlo’s Bakery. We used to love Carlo’s when we lived in Hoboken, but it’s now mass produced crap that you can buy in BJ’s or on Amazon. No thanks. It’s a shame as it once was a good bakery, but greed and celebrity changes people and their products.
About 30 minutes into the event Giada and event organizer, Lee Schrager, took the stage to praise each other effusively and talk about the impressive pizza ovens as well as Giada’s new business venture – catering. I used to watch her on TV and think her namesake restaurant in Las Vegas is great.
Anthony’s Take: We came. We ate. We went back to the hotel to sleep. The standouts were from Timo Restaurant, Rose Mary, Silverlake, Scampi, and Timpano. I’m looking forward to our other events this weekend and to hitting the gym in the morning to work off what I chowed down.
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