Antonio Mellino opened a low key version of his Quattro Passi restaurant all the way back in 1983 – and over the years, it came to not only secure two Michelin stars, but to also be considered by many to be the top dining destination n the entire Amalfi Coast of Italy.
Celebrities – including Beyonce, Jay-Z and assorted British royals – have flocked perpetually to the little village of Nerano to dine there. So much so that an outpost, QP LDN, was opened in London’s poshie Mayfair in 2014 (and quickly attracted the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Cressida Bonas.)
And though Mellino is reluctant to go the way of Ducasse by aggressively franchising the brand, it makes perfect sense that he and his two sons have just opened Forte dei Marmi in what is arguably the American version of the Italian Riviera…Miami Beach.
He gives a simple explanation: “Our Amalfi restaurant is closed from October [to March].” And, of course, that’s high season in Miami.
The new restaurant brings a cool, minimalist, Coastal-Italy-chic to a city that often defaults to glitz and opulence – making it an particularly sexy spot for a romantic assignation…especially this Valentine’s Day. But, as with any great Italian chef, the real amore is in the food.
“We get the fish fresh from the Mediterranean,” Mellino boasts. They’ve also imported a culinary ideology, which is “all about the technique, the quality, and the respect for the food. So we don’t ever over-sauce or over-butter. It’s much lighter, and simpler.”
Simpler indeed – Forte dei Marmi menu highlights include “Raw & Cooked” organic seasonal vegetable plate with Tuscan olive oil; Squid Ink “Cappello del Prete” with veal ragout; Gnocchi with red prawns; Red Snapper with zucchini flowers; and a Florentine steak for two that will make you forget you ever heard the word “Wagyu.”
No small number of food world gatekeepers consider Quattro Passi the most sublime realization of the modern Med culinary ideal. So Forte dei Marmi easily rises above Miami’s other Italophile hotspots. “Our goal was to bring the Quattro Passi philosophy to Miami,” says Mellino. Aren’t we lucky?
Image by Karen Fuchs