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By: Julie Landry Laviolette

Delicate house-made pasta. Imported Italian cheeses. Carefully crafted recipes handed down through generations of family cooks. Whether you’re looking for a white-tablecloth experience or a casual meal at a homey trattoria, Greater Miami and Miami Beach’s cosmopolitan dining scene will satisfy your craving for the finest Italian food. Here’s a round-up of Miami's best Italian restaurants.

Carbone

Ritzy leather banquettes, over-the-top chandeliers, curated art and jewel-toned fabrics create a swanky atmosphere at Carbone, the fourth outpost of this popular Michelin-starred restaurant. Known for its elevated takes on classic Italian staples such as veal parmesan, Carbone opened its doors in South Beach in January 2021. Although sophisticated offerings like porterhouse for two, octopus pizzaiolo and lobster fra diavolo are on the menu, its spicy rigatoni with vodka sauce, served on a hand-painted plate from Umbria, is Carbone’s most Instagrammed dish. The tableside-prepped Caesar salad is another house favorite. Reservations are a must (and hard to come by, so plan ahead). Outdoor patio seating is also available.

Cipriani

A chic, airy interior in crisp blue-and-white with panoramic views of Biscayne Bay sets the scene for Cipriani. Backed by four generations of family restaurants, this Downtown Miami/Brickell location of the worldwide hospitality brand is known for its sophisticated classics and, believe it or not, its homemade vanilla ice cream. Try the Bellini, made with white peach puree and prosecco, which was invented in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani at his storied Harry’s Bar in Venice. Signature dishes include carpaccio, first created by Giuseppe in 1950, and baked tagliolini with ham. Finish with Cipriani’s famous ice cream, served with caramelized nuts, or its iconic vanilla meringue cake. A ritzy waterside terrace offers outdoor dining with a dramatic skyline backdrop.

Il Gabbiano

Nestled on scenic Biscayne Bay in Downtown Miami, Il Gabbiano offers refined Northern and Southern Italian fare served with precision. Understated in its elegance, the star attraction is a palm tree-lined waterfront patio with serene bay and Miami River views. Dinner-jacketed waitstaff offer Parmigiano Reggiano chipped off a giant wheel, fried slivers of zucchini and garlicky bruschetta, setting the scene for the deliciousness to come. Signature dinner dishes include octopus carpaccio, veal chop with black truffle sauce, and fresh house-made pastas such as lobster ravioli with fresh crab, and porcini ravioli in champagne and truffle sauce. Finish your meal with arance Positano – Grand Marnier-infused oranges and other fresh fruit prepared right at your table.

Il Mulino Interior
Dine indoors or al fresco at Acqualina's Il Mulino restaurant

Il Mulino

Set inside the posh Acqualina Resort & Residences in Sunny Isles Beach, Il Mulino offers an elegant mahogany-accented dining room with white tablecloths and a stunning backdrop of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Lushly landscaped outdoor seating with a Mediterranean feel is available on a multilevel terrace. Standouts include the extensive wine list, complimentary antipasti service, house-made pasta and a lavish Sunday brunch with unlimited prosecco and bellinis. Try the ravioli ai porcini with champagne truffle cream, Dover sole, branzino or costoletta di vitello – a single, perfectly grilled veal chop.

Macchialina

Soulful, rustic Italian fare is the calling card at this convivial family-run trattoria in South Beach. With an award-winning wine program focusing on lesser-known Italian bottles from boutique wineries, Macchialina serves up fresh pasta with seasonal influences and bold, creative flavors. The eatery’s namesake dish, cavatelli Macchialina, has ricotta cheese folded into the dough for a decadent bite, and is finished with tiny meatballs, porchetta and pecorino. The five-course chef’s tasting menu is a tour through Macchialina’s greatest hits, with an optional wine pairing. Settle into the cozy dining room with its brick walls and dark leather banquettes, or choose the covered patio for al fresco dining.

Salvatore D. Fine Italian Cuisine

Humble and welcoming, Salvatore D. Fine Italian Cuisine is known as much for its warm atmosphere as it is for its Italian comfort classics. Tucked away in the Sunset West Shopping Center in Kendall, this romantic mainstay is an elegant restaurant where the servers wear white jackets and bow ties. The eatery, lined with dark wood accents and wine cabinets, is a go-to for its veal osso buco and lasagna. Crochette della Mamma – homemade bechamel croquettes from a family recipe – is a must-have for local foodies. Other highlights are octopus, rack of lamb with fresh fig sauce, and burrata made in-house and served with Parma prosciutto and artichoke hearts.

Sapore di Mare

With its casual charm, the cheerful, nautically themed Sapore di Mare in Coconut Grove transports diners to the Amalfi Coast. Operated by a husband-and-wife team, the informal and often busy eatery with a blue-and-white interior offers a warm, bustling atmosphere. There’s a no-reservations policy on weekends, which occasionally feature live music (call ahead to check). Focusing on Mediterranean seafood, seasonal local fish and Florida spiny lobster, the restaurant takes pride in refined touches such as imported Italian cheeses, Alba truffles and Parma ham, along with an extensive wine list. Order the off-the-menu special of cacio e pepe – pasta twirled in a Tuscan pecorino cheese bowl – for a satisfying treat. Dine indoors or at the tables that line the sidewalk.

Whether you’re looking for Italian fine dining or down-home family-style cooking, you’ll find it in Greater Miami and Miami Beach. Check out more delicious dining options in Miami. Mangia!