By Melanie Galarce
Zucca (162 Alcazar Ave, Coral Gables) is a stylish place for house-made pastas, steaks, and other Italian fare, with wine and inventive cocktails that recently opened up inside the Hotel St. Michel.
Menu highlights: Zucca has really brought life back to the Hotel St. Michel, where it quietly sits on the ground floor, and I think the amazing Italian menu has a lot to do with that. There seems to be something for everyone on this menu, offering way more than just the traditional Italian dishes. I kicked off the meal with the Grilled Octopus served with haricot verts, potatoes, olives, cherry tomatoes, and a parsley pesto sauce. This delicious, well thought-out dish was the perfect seafood starter and cooked to perfection. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the seafood options were plentiful, and all the dishes coming out were as vibrant as the pasta and meat dishes. This octopus was no exception.
Up next was the Homemade Tagliatelle pasta, which was highly recommended by my uber cool and equally nice waiter. The pasta was sautéed with wild mixed organic mushrooms, and I have to admit I loved the simplicity of this dish. All you really need is some darn good homemade pasta and a wild fungus to make a stellar meal.
Alas, I waited a few extra minutes after the meal was served and thoroughly enjoyed to order the Warm Chocolate Cake with marscapone ice cream. I was told this is a favorite and rightly so. It’s served warm enough so that upon your first bite, the cake will melt in your mouth. Add a bit of the perfectly curated marscopone ice cream and you’ve got yourself a killer combination.
Standout dishes: A personal favorite of mine were the Crispy Risotto Balls, which came stuffed with bolognese ragu and mozzarella. Risotto and cheese might be exactly what heaven is made out of, and this combination brought me a little closer to eternal bliss. They were perfectly crunchy on the outside and nothing but cheesy gooeyness on the inside.
Remember that super cool, hip waiter I told you about? Well, he highly recommended the Panko Breaded Veal Chop and I’m forever indebted to him for it. The veal is served with an arugula and tomato salad for the perfect side dish so as to not overpower the main attraction, which is undoubtedly the perfectly cooked, breaded veal. I love the innovation of this dish and the versatility. You can go crazy on the pasta dishes and this will always serve as the protagonist protein to flair up your meal at Zucca.
Are we boozing? With a 1,000-bottle wine cellar and a variety of acclaimed craft cocktails, there is no doubt that we’re boozing. You’ll probably want to have a proper glass of wine to accompany whatever delicious pasta dish you’re having, but you might also want to delve into their award-winning craft cocktails if you’re feeling adventurous. Either way, you’re in for a treat.
Check this place out if you like: a damn good Italian meal. Via Emilia 9 rings a bell.
Mel’s take: Zucca is the quintessential Coral Gables restaurant that I remember from growing up in Miami. It’s elegant and refined, yet still relevant and cool, all while offering very good food. It’s the old Coral Gables I remember from childhood and I’m glad this place brings about some nostalgia. If you’re looking for a great Italian meal to celebrate something big or small, you’ll probably want to visit Zucca. You won’t be disappointed.
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