I read about “martini hour” at Fiola in Coral Gables, Miami and knew that was my next spot. There are several reasons why you have to try this place but let’s be honest, we came for the drinks and food! It was Monday evening when Mary, Jennifer, and I visited. We arrived and just up the stairs were two tall glass doors with F-shaped knobs. Once inside I couldn’t help but notice the charming smiles of the hostesses in this idyllic setting full of roses as a backdrop. We found our place at the bar and introduced ourselves to Carlos, the bartender, our server for the evening and an angel in disguise.
To my excitement, he related the intricacies of their signature cocktails while spraying a lavender-filled atomizer over one and setting three amarettos beside another. I ordered the Bellagio cocktail because the description of vodka and prosecco with a splash of Cocchi rosa, elderflower, and lemon made my mouth tingle. The taste resembled that of sour candy, just the perfect amount of sweet and spice. We were all settled into our seats, drinks-in-hand and it was time for the most exciting part of the evening (for me), the food. After careful deliberation with the girls, we decided on three appetizers: Colors of the garden, burrata, and ahi tuna crudo. Not too long afterward they were gracefully placed in front of us and my jaw dropped instantly.
The dishes were not only beautiful but portrayed a feeling of elegance and dedication. Being the cheese enthusiast that I am, I went straight for the burrata first. I made sure to have a bit of each component on the dish for my first bite. Burrata with Genovese pesto and heirloom tomatoes were like fireworks in my mouth. The creaminess of the burrata soaked into Sullivan’s bakery bread, and the pesto accompanied it all with grace. It reminded me of when I visited Italy and realized fresh ingredients are the key to great food. Colors of the garden was a salad, but not your basic bitch salad. This one was a perfect balance of freshness and tang given that it comes with Piemontese La Tur goat cheese and a focaccia tuile. For those of you who aren’t familiar, tuile is a thin, delicate cookie. The real star of the dish for me was the La Tur goat cheese. The sensation that I was suddenly wrapped in a cozy blanket rushed through me and I had a grin glued to my face. It was a harmonic balance of all the flavors, the perfect umami.
All that was left for me to dig-into was the ahi tuna crudo. I am not a big fan of fish derivatives such as trout roe but this combination made my eyes roll backward, in a good way. Stacked on a fish-shaped dish was a perfectly symmetrical display of ahi tuna with San Marzano tomatoes and sorrel, accompanied on the side by the trout roe. I scooped up a bit of each component with my fork and I can truly say that I will never have a tuna-tartar, crudo, or anything thereof at another place after this. It was so fresh, almost as if I witnessed the fishermen catch the tuna and execute this marvelous dish.
While finishing our cocktails and devouring the delicious food to what (we thought) would be the end to a tasteful night, the best thing that could have ever happened to us (me) happened. Carlos said: “I have a surprise for you guys.” He walked away and came back with a casserole-looking dish on a plate and placed it in front of us, “Careful, it’s hot!” he said. At first glance, I almost fainted. I was googly-eyed…my arms had goosebumps and I was on the edge of my seat. I felt slight drops of sweat sliding down my back. The dish you ask? Risotto alla Parmigiana with a generous amount of Perigord Black Truffles shaved on top. *mic dropped*
It was the first time I tried shaved black truffles on anything, and that is what dreams are made of. Perfectly cooked risotto with soft and tangy parmigiano reggiano is great on its own but add roughly $100 of shaved black truffle and you have a whole other dish. The first bite was mind-blowing. The blend of these flavors was very comforting and uplifting, like my nonna. Invoking a sense of gratitude and appreciation for each ingredient, the parmigiano kissed my taste buds and the earthy truffle managed to stand out, yet blend perfectly. If I could have this dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I would!
Then came dessert time. Beignet of dulce de leche with guava compote and horchata milkshake. The pillowy dough filled with dulce de leche danced with the guava compote on my palate, which I accompanied with the horchata milkshake that felt like it came from an angel’s mother-giving parts [Carlos?!]. It never crossed my mind to mix dulce de leche and guava til that very moment…and that’s when I realized I knew nothing! It was the best combination of South American influence on a European classic.
A place of luxurious comfort and impeccable cuisine, Fiola is sure to leave a mark on anyone. Whether you’re going with friends for “martini hour,” going on a date or having Sunday dinner with your family. The floor-to-ceiling wine cellars, the outdoor lounge patio where you can smoke one of their fine cigars, and their lovely hostess Janine make for an invaluable experience. Not to mention, they have three types of straws and none of them are plastic!