As Lincoln Road succumbs to higher and higher leases, the long time restaurants that we South Beachers have come to know and equate to the scenery have given way to large corporate outlets that can afford to include their local losses in their marketing budgets. TiramesU was one of these regular fixtures for 17 years, 25 years if you include their previous location South Of Fifth, that recently shackled their doors.
Fortunately, this story continues on with good news! TiramesU opened to to the public last week at their new location in their old SoFi neighborhood with a greatly improved space and menu. I got a sneak peak at their new menu last Monday before they opened to the public and was impressed with the direction that Chef Fabrizio Pintus has taken. His interpretation of neo-italian food left me inspired to explore Italian food again as if it was something novel that I was experiencing for the first time. I started off with a refreshing cocktail called a Moonshine Mule, TiramesU’s take on a Moscow Mule. With Blackberry Infused Grappa, Ginger Beer, Lime Juice, and Agave, it was the perfect pick me up walking in from a hot day… and at $11, it certainly won’t break the mule’s back. The Moscow Mule, for those curious, was invented in 1941 at the Cock ’N’ Bull in Hollywood when the owner tried to get rid of two things he was unable to sell… Believe it or not, Smirnoff Vodka was one of those items. The Moscow Mule put Smirnoff, a tiny company owned by a penniless Russian ex-pat, on the map. Smirnoff almost went belly up because of all the anti-Russian sentiment from McCarthyism – ironic because Smirnoff was never Russian… it originated in Bethel, Connecticut!
The standout appetizer, however, was the Capesante ($14), a Scallop Carpaccio with Strawberries, Almonds, and Citrus that left me speechless. The architecture of the dish alone was enough to give me pause while I contemplated how exactly they put this one together. It sure looks like the chef gave a wallop to a big scallop the size of a frisbee and flattened it out… I was told that they did indeed hammer down multiple scallops and overlay them under pressure to form this larger “scallop”. I don’t know about you, but while I love scallops, they get boring after a few bites because of the homegenous texture. You will notice a pattern here… Chef Pinto solved that problem with the various items on top of the scallop that gave it the exact opposite feel. A different texture combination in every bite. Well done sir, well done! Being a cold dish, this complemented the warm Octopus perfectly.
Typically, Italian meals will have a Primo Piatto (first plate) in between the Anti Pasti (before pasta) and the Secondi Patti (second plate). For our first plates, we had the Risotto and the Ravioli. Lest that sound boring and run of the mill, let me assure you it was neither. The Risotto ($20) was made with Carnaroli Rice (as opposed to the more common arborio rice, this has a higher starch content and firmer texture along with a longer grain), Castelmagno Cheese (a hard to find and ancient Piedmont Cheese that shares Parmegiano’s scaly texture and umami-strong flavor), Pears, Grape Confit, and a Barolo Reduction. Once again, the consistent texture of a typical Risotto was interrupted by the various, and unexpected textures (and bursts of flavors) from these additions.
The Ravioli ($18) though… wow! By far, my favorite dish of the night. 3 large Ravioli’s stuffed with Beef Short Ribs, Fresh Ricotta Cheese, Mushrooms, and Bone Marrow Jus. Amazing depth of flavor with the Umami jumping up and smacking you in the face with a wake up call… Multiple levels of textures all competing, yet complementing each other. This might be my “Go To” dish here! What is interesting is the judicious use of sizing here. If an item is naturally small, like the herbs and the mushrooms you get a very distinct mouth feel to it as opposed to something larger that you have to cut with a knife. But when combined, they work together to confuse your mouth (in a good way). That is the same reason why good music is, well… “good”. Your brain trying to find a pattern, gets confused – but not too confused – and that equates to entertainment to our pattern matching computers in our noggins.
For our main course, or Secondi Patti, we had the Branzino ($28), a Mediterranean Sea Bass with Saffron Cauliflower and Asparagus. Beautifully presented and cooked just right, it showcased how little you have to do to a quality piece of fish to let the flavor come out. The acommpaniments were also minimalist but the Saffron Cauliflower Puree had just the right amount of flavor so as to not overwhelm the Branzino.
At this point, we had eaten just the right amount, but managed to leave just a little extra room for the desserts. Of course, it would be unthinkable to come to a place called TiramesU and not order theTiramisu for dessert, which we did, but I had to get something off the beaten path as well. There was a squid ink slushy of sorts that I must say, while off the beaten path and interesting, wasn’t my cup of tea, but your mileage may vary as it was just a matter of taste I think. The Tiramisu was excellent as one would hope after the caliber of meal I had just eaten. I must note as well that the service was impeccable and the staff, all of the staff, really care about your experience and know how to take care of you. I will definitely be going back to the new Tiramisu back in their old neighborhood!