#MiamiSpiceMonday – Toscana Divino

Last week we kicked off another series to celebrate Miami’s foodie Mecca: Miami Spice. Mitch took you on a #MiamiSpiceMonday tour of Downtown Bistro. The hope with this series is to highlight some of the Miami Spice menus that we’re enjoying during Miami’s most gluttonous months when the promotion takes over our growing culinary city. And, of course, that you enjoy it along the way!

Today, I take you to the heart of Mary Brickell with Toscana Divino. These last few weeks, we’ve been discovering Brickell sushi and Brickell seafood, but today this Miami Spice menu takes us to discover Brickell Italian.

Toscana Divino is a nice dichotomy of elegance and coziness. With a floor to ceiling wine that will put your wine stash at home to shame, the restaurant does a very good job at being inviting and chic. Mitch and I actually ventured to this Miami Spice meal together alongside the #FoodieFriend that we will highlight later this month and had an excellent meal.

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To follow is a journey of the meal the three of us had and how much we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

*It must be noted that we love that the menu item is accompanied by its place of origin.

We kicked-off the expedition with warm bread and by ordering three of the four available appetizers.

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Tagliere Toscano e Farinata (Prosciutto Toscano DOP, Bufalo Ricotta, Chickpea Crostini) – a light dish that will prep your stomach for the gluttony that’s to come. Delicious prosciutto carefully placed atop a tangy chickpea crostini and accompanied by Buffalo Ricotta, this appetizer really makes you feel like you’re on a Tuscan getaway.

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Minestra Garfagninga from Lucca (Organic Farro Soup, Cannellini Beans, Lardo di Colonnata) – I’m always the gal that orders soup when it’s an option so I’m a bit bias, but truth be told, I’d probably order this again. With fresh flavors that are also hearty, you feel like you’re well equipped for the rest of the meal with this appetizer.

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Gamberi in Dolceforte from Livorno (Sweet And Sour Prawns) – a small plate of Key West prawns that are bathed in Dolceforte, an Italian sauce that dates back to 1300s made by a mix of raisins, chocolate, candied fruit, sugar and vinegar added to mix of vegetables, wine, and olive oil. You can’t get more Italian than this folks.

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The appetizers set great expectations for the main course dishes that did not disappoint. Below a quick recap of each:

Pici Senesi from Siena (House made large Spaghetti “Pici,” Braised Duck Ragu) – this dish was the highlight of my evening. I have a soft spot for home made pasta and this was no exception. Its elevated taste was praise worthy and the braised duck did an excellent job at adding texture and boldness to the dish.

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Cacciucco from Livorno (Mussels, Octopus and Sea Bass in a Tomato Stew) – a fish stew that you won’t soon forget. The base of this particular stew was octopus, tomato and sea bass. A wide variety of other ingredients are used in the broth, including various vegetables and spices. It’s the Italian equivalent of the stew that my Colombian mom frets over every Christmas and it’s very good if you’re in search of a solid medley of seafood.

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Costata di Manzo Wagyu from Chianti (Local organic Ocala Ranch Wagyu Ribeye, Crashed Roasted Potatoes) – I don’t think it’s possible to ever go wrong with Wagyu meat and this ribeye held truth to my theory. With its strong flavor, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture this dish goes a long way. Also, the roasted potatoes were pretty amazing. I don’t usually call out potatoes, but these had a perfect coat of crunchiness that really made them stand out. You can also add Radish Puree to this dish for additional $5, but I think it does pretty well with just the stellar potatoes.

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And of course, like any true Italian meal, one must finish the carbohydrate fest with sweets. The dessert options on the Miami Spice menu are only two:

Cantucci e Vin Santo from Prato (Biscotti, Vin Santo) – I’m a big fan of simplicity and biscotti, so this dessert worked well for me. Italians don’t believe in dipping their biscotti in coffee but rather Vin Santo, a style of Italian dessert wine. I’m a bad Italian and a good American that quite frankly very much enjoyed the subtly sweet, crisp almond cookies but would have probably preferred to dip mine in coffee.

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Zuppa Inglese in Alkermes from Firenze (Amaretti, Limoncello Cream, Fresh Berries, Alkermes by Santa Maria Novella) – a much more complex dessert with intricate layers of rich cream, fruits and liqueur. This is the dessert you get if you’re in the mood to be adventurous.

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Everything we had was very, very good, but when visiting an Italian place, never stray from the pasta. If it’s at all authentic, as was Toscana Divino, you’ll find that the best dishes are always pasta-inspired. Also, the service was superb and needs a special shout out. The charming Italian servers have a heavy accent that will make you want to book a trip to Tuscany as you exit the restaurant.

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The Spice price is right because: If you’re looking for good Italian in Mary Brickell Village, Toscana Divino is an easy, safe bet made even easier and safer thanks to the Miami Spice promotion. The cozy spot offers just enough glam to not feel stuffy and its authentic Italian charm translates seamlessly into the menu. They also have happy hour until 8 pm, and any restaurant that understands the real-world work schedule gets an A+ from me. Must also be noted that the wine list is quite impressive.

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Standout dishes: The night’s winning dish for me was the Pappardelle Alla Finocchiona. The house made pasta was soft and buttery and carefully offset by the strong flavors of the pork to tie dish together nicely. Also, when we went in we were told the appetizer Chianti Crudo from Firenze (local Wagyu Beef tartar) was not available but we’ve been told by a few sources that this is the appetizer to order. Although a bit bummed we didn’t get to try, we’re passing on the good word.

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