Top Five Restaurants for Outdoor Dining: Beyond Best of Miami 2011
|Sitting outdoors at Red Light won't cost you a fortune.|
The food at our five favorites (six including Cecconi's) is as fab as the setting -- or at least in four of the five (we'll let you know the one we're not sure about). We've tried to give it some range as well. Our list encompasses a bayfront, riverfront, lily-pond-front, mansion, and art gallery.
And really, there is no sweeter season for dining outdoors in Miami than right now.
|View from The Villa dining terrace.|
Credit Gianni Versace for the elegant and thoroughly distinctive décor of the Villa; let's face it, the man had taste. The stroll through the lobby and past the dining room to get to the outdoor tables is an eye-opening museum-walk in itself (there are plaques of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud in the courtyard, and a bust of Benito Mussolini somewhere in the house). But the cozy patio overlooking the fountain/pool area has to be one of the most romantic spots to dine in town (because of historical significance, the courtyard had to be kept as it originally was, which is to say a copy of Christopher Columbus's place in Santo Domingo circa 1509). Cuisine by chef Jeff O'Neill is equally beautiful and sophisticated, even if you have to be as wealthy as an Italian aristocrat to pay for it. Start saving now, so when the time calls for a special swoon-worthy outdoor dining spot (like, say, Valentine's Day), you'll be ready.
|Setai: Romantic and zen some.|
If the Villa takes you on a historical tour with a mix of all manner of architectural styles, the Zen-like outdoor courtyard at the Setai is all clean lines and architectural harmony. Guests are seated around the perimeter of a lily-padded pond, with moonlight streaking through palm trees and trellises of wood overhead. It is an oasis of tranquility and beauty -- which sounds like a purple-prosed exaggeration, but it isn't. Nor is it a stretch to say that chef David Werly's cuisine of Far East-influenced plates is just as pretty and balanced. Just as romantic and unique as the Villa, which means just as ideal a spot for Valentine's Day. Also, it's just as expensive.