Celebrating 20 years of great Italian food at Perricone’s downtown Miami.
When I first moved to Miami over a decade ago (as a young whippersnapper entertainment reporter,) Perricone’s was one of the first places I went with my co-workers from Deco Drive. Just like most new converts to the Magic City, I fell madly in love; the pasta was yummy and the ambiance was an intriguing mix of “garden oasis meets classic New York City steak house:” dark wood, twinkling lights and a bustling bar.
Mind you, it was all smack-dab in the middle of skyscraper central — downtown Miami. It was, and still is, paradise in the heart of a concrete jungle; more specifically, Brickell. Fast forward to 2016 and the eatery is celebrating 20 years of mouth-watering business. When I first heard about Perricone’s big birthday, two things came to mind: WOW, am I getting old; and I’ve gotta feature them on Spotlight. I’ve often wondered…
HOW in the world they’ve kept a great thing going for so long? Not only is Perricone’s a South Florida institution, they’ve also managed to grow and evolve without changing the original “je ne sais quoi” that’s made them so famous. Not an easy task in a town where restaurants come and go faster than the ebb and flow of tourists.
Since my very first visit all those years ago, a lot has changed. They’ve added a Market Place where you can shop for authentic, hand-crafted Italian delicacies: meats, cheeses, desserts, breads and wine. If you live downtown, I’m sure you know about it. They’ve also expanded their outdoor dining area, making the most of their lush, tropical landscape with a large open-air tent (that connects to the main dining room.) It easily transforms into an air-conditioned haven or an outdoor, cool weather hot spot.
That’s where I dined last Friday night on a beautiful Miami evening. I started Spotlight with three yummy drinks: “Sour Apple Martini,” “Classic Mojito” and “Frozen Moscow Mule.” All three drinks were yummy, but the Moscow Mule, which I’m told is a customer favorite, was smooth, well-blended and deliciously strong (made using a Kelvin Slush Machine.)
After drinking up the majority of my adult slushy, two appetizers arrived: “Baked Brie en Croute” and “Mussels Steamed in White Wine.” The brie (which is a whole baked brie wrapped in a crispy puff pastry, drizzled with warm apricot glaze and served with fresh fruit and crackers,) was spectacular and the mussels were just as delicious; light and succulent.
For dinner, I tried a little bit of everything, starting with the scrumptious “Grandma Jennie’s Classic Meatballs” with their signature Pomodoro Sauce and the “Catch of the Day,” which happened to be an amazing “Parmesan-Crusted Grilled Bronzino.” While I love meat and fish, my absolute true love is pasta. I could eat it every natural-born day of my life. With that being said…
I tried the “Penne with Grilled Chicken” (with olives, sun dried tomatoes, basil and feta). I especially loved the fact that it’s served in a garlic/extra virgin olive oil. Even though pasta can be hearty, it doesn’t have to taste or leave you feeling that way and this dish is the perfect example. My favorite pasta and dish (for that matter) of the evening was “Fiocchi Gorgonzola” (purse-shaped pasta stuffed with fresh pear and four cheeses, served with a walnut Gorgonzola sauce.) It was absolutely to-die-for. It’s on the rich side, but you won’t regret it if you try it.
For dessert, I savored Perricone’s signature “Chocolate House Cake” (made with rich, bittersweet chocolate mousse and chocolate cake, drizzled with white chocolate hazelnut crunch, with chocolate ganache frosting.) This is the perfect plate to share, but there are so many good desserts to choose from, I’d order a couple and play a game of round-robin tasting.
Besides all the usual favorites on the menu, Perricone’s isn’t afraid of stretching its food muscle, too; always coming up with the new and exciting. That’s one of the many reasons I love eating there. The incredible service, inviting environment and warm energy is top notch and that’s why it’s one of my favorite things.
Dinner Hours are Sunday – Thursday 4pm-11pm, Friday & Saturday 4pm-11:30pm.
(for Market, Lunch and Brunch hours check-out www.perricones.com).
Brickell 15 SE 10th Street, Miami, Florida 33131. Your best bet is to use their valet. It’s fast and efficient and parking downtown can be pretty difficult these days or better yet, cab or uber it.