We are all familiar with the dining hot spots on South Beach and in Brickell, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, and Wynwood – but as the Miami dining scene continues its growth outward even from those areas, a new dining quarter is making its presence known...MiMo and even more recently, Little River.
Just north of MiMo, bordering on the likes of PINCH Miami, Cake Thai, and the new Anderson Bar, Little River has definitely become one of the more happening areas in Miami. Tucked away in the Shore Crest Apartments overlooking Biscayne Bay and at the foot of the 79th Causeway Bridge you will find Antica Mare, the Tuscan escape you did not know existed. I recently joined other Miami food writers for an evening “away from the maddening crowd”.
Owner Marco Betti is pouring his heart, soul, and many family recipes into this waterfront restaurant after an already successful 17 year run at his Atlanta restaurant, Antica Posta, featuring many of the same menu items. Antica Mare is full of delicious traditional Italian dishes that are not to be missed.
As far as appetizers go they cover all the greats – bruschetta, meatballs, and salads – but you have to try the octopus, Polpo a la Griglia. It’s sliced super thin, is seasoned well and served over arugula. Protip: don’t skip the bread basket that is brought to your table. I know sometimes we try not to eat the bread so we can save room for the meal but this bread is worth the extra calories and having a few less bites of dinner. It’s just so good!
For our entrees, Marco made sure we didn’t miss any of his favorites. Before we could even process all of the yummy appetizers our table was flooded with mouthwatering main courses.
The Scialatelli Al Ragú Di Pesce (or fresh short pasta with mix fish ragú in a homemade tomato sauce) was delicious. The freshly made shot noodles melted in your mouth and the tomato sauce had a wonderful flavor to it. Antica Mare has over 15 different fresh pasta dishes, many available in either appetizer or entrée portions.
I have been told that the "test" of a good chef is his roast chicken. So when someone tells me his it the “best chicken in the world” it’s hard to turn it down. Chef Ciccio, who has been cooking with Marco for many years, has mastered this chicken. It is marinated in Tuscan herbs and then slow roasted until tender and juicy and pairs so well with the crisp potatoes that are served on the side. For a moment I forgot there was anything else on the table.
The highlight of my night was the Filetti Di Maiale Alla Mostarda - pork filet medallions sautéed with whole grain mustard sauce, served with side of lentils and broccoli. The mixture of texture and flavors was delicious and I will be back for more. Of course even after all of these dishes, I had made sure to save room for dessert.
As expected in any true Italian restaurant there was a Panna Cotta, with strawberry sauce, a tasty classic Tiramisu, and chantilly filled crunchy cannolis. All delightful and just the right amount of sweet to end such a savory meal.
Antica Mare is a perfect place to take a date or out of town guests. It is in the heart of Miami but somehow still a quiet peaceful escape. The waterfront patio plays soft music and sets an elegant tone for your very own Tuscan adventure. A nice change from South Beach or Downtown.
7999 NE Bayshore Court
Miami, FL 33138