Lorenzo: Tony Mantuano's SoBe Restaurant Opens Today (We Get a First Bite)
Lorenzo, chef Tony Mantuano's casual-classic Italian restaurant opens for dinner today at the soon-to-open Redbury hotel on South Beach. Mantuano is the chef/partner of Chicago's Michelin-starred Spiaggia restaurant, along with restaurateur Larry Levy. The team has partnered again with Lorenzo.
All photos by Laine Doss Octopus with baby potatoes, finished in sambuca, lemon, and EVOO ($16) at Loernzo.
The restaurant is located in the lobby of the Redbury South Beach hotel, at 1776 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. Formerly the Fairfax, this art deco gem is scheduled to reopen December 1, 2013 -- just in time for Art Basel.
The restaurant's decor of brown leather, wood, and chrome compliments the original seafoam terrazzo flooring and giant pillars. A large bar welcomes guests to the side of the room, while a espresso and gelato bar temps people with a little on-the-go pick-me up.
Up a few grand stairs lies an open kitchen, its focal point a Ferrari-red wood-burning oven imported from Tuscany. Slightly out of view of diners is a curious machine. It's a pizza dough mixer, two robotic hands gently kneading and working the dough to perfection. Mantuano quips, "You could buy a Fiat or make dough".
When asked why he chose Miami Beach to open Lorenzo, Mantuano told Short Order that all the cards were on the table for this venture. "This was all about the situation being perfect. My business partner was developing this building. He loves Italian food and comes into Cafe Spiaggia every day that he's in town. He wanted great Italian food in South Beach. I told him, I'll do it, but I'm not going to change. We're going to do what we've been doing for 29 years. We do great, authentic food, and that means a wood-burning oven, pizzette, hand-made pasta, great gelato and espresso. All the hallmarks of great Italian. We have a A great wine list written by Cathy (Mantuano). We don't want to change because we're in South Beach. I couldn't represent what we've done for 29 years that way, and I couldn't represent the country of Italy that way. It's about everything being right. About everything lining up."
When pressed, Mantuano did find he made a few concessions to South Beach. "OK. We put star fruit in the gelato." There's also grapefruit and Meyer lemon, too.
Lorenzo's kitchen will be overseen by executive chef James Versfelt, with cocktails created by mixologist Michael Jack Pazdon of Napa Valley's Goose & Gander. Wine director (and wife of the chef/partner) Cathy Mantuano puts a spotlight on Italian wines, with over 100 bottles and over two dozen wines available by the glass. The Mantuanos invited Short Order to try a few items. Here's what we sampled (prices when available).
Lorenzo is open nightly for dinner from 6 p.m. - midnight; and will open for lunch and late night dining in about two weeks.