Last night I got a chance to try Bianca, the newly revamped restaurant inside Hotel Delano in South Beach, Miami. Bianca is operated by Las Vegas’ Light Group, helmed by the fabulously British Andrew Sasson. Since its anticipated grand re-opening two weeks ago, getting a table here on a Sat night was definitely a treat.
This place is frequented by Mickey Rourke, Michelle Rodriguez, Selita Ebanks, Kevin Connolly, and Sammy Sosa…just to name a few. It features a newly redone menu using all local, organic ingredients to create some of the most innovative Italian cuisine. The interior showcases a more profound elegant look using over-sized mirrors, romantic candlelit tables, blonde wood tables, linen-covered chairs, and unique furniture pieces throughout the lobby.
The patio opens up into the back garden of Hotel Delano, using flowing white linen curtains and glass lanterns to light up the pathway towards the pool. In the center of the garden, you’ll find white linen beds, a life size chess set, Narnia style lamps, and romantic hammocks littered all throughout. The decor of Hotel Delano, however, looked oddly familiar to me! I couldn’t seem to put a thumb on it till I noticed the bold chandeliers and porcelain ram heads, then – it dawned on me! It had the signature look of Philippe Starck scribbled all over it, the same mastermind who created the interior decor of The SLS Hotel, and their restaurant – The Bazaar where I just had my birthday celebration. Per his usual style, he assembled an international collection of furniture and objects, including works from renowned artists such as Antonio Gaudi, Man Ray, Charles and Ray Eames, Salvador Dali and Mark Newson to decorate Delano. End result? Stunning.
The Executive chef is Brian Massie (Fix at the Bellagio, Las Vegas) and he focuses on Slow Food adherent using only local, farm fresh ingredients for all his pan Italian dishes.
Couldn’t wait to taste everything! I started with a grilled octopus dish, garnished with cherry tomatoes and finished off with an aged balsamic. The octopus was grilled to a perfection, lightly charred on the outside and generously coated in the balsamic sauce.
Next was Vongole with baby clams galore. The pasta was lightly drizzled in a white wine sauce and basil, tossed with clams and finished with a spicy note.
It’s as if they infused the white wine with jalapenos prior to cooking. Wasn’t too overpowering and just the right balance to give it a good kick. I paired my vongole with a glass of New Zealand Bancroft Sauvignon Blanc, which carried a light floral taste – perfect for the dish.
The second main dish was a perfectly – PERFECTLY – charred, medium rare steak, accompanied by a little tower of truffle fries.
It just sounds yummy, doesn’t it?! The outside was slightly crispy, but the interior was juicy pink. Not every place gets medium rare right, and God knows the hotel we were staying at didn’t have a clue, but Bianca most definitely had it spot on.
For dessert, their strawberry panna cotta was worth the calories, but the cheesecake was nothing to write home about. I took a tiny nibble of the tiramisu and found that it was drowned way too heavily in rum. The almond biscotti was great, but come on…I’m here for the main attraction, not the dish garnish! If you come out here, definitely stick to the appetizers and main courses, the desserts are not a must.
I’d like to also mention that when I sat down, my glass was stained with lipstick and our server not only brought out a chair for my leg (which was in a fancy cast) but he also bought our first round of drinks. Now that is how top notch service works. The revamped hotel is well worth the visit. Plus, the place is crawling with people in the biz to see or be seen, so grab a fancy chair and prepare yourself for some great people watching and interesting exchanges…
On another note, we were seated in a private corner, right next to two very charming gentlemen. As they struck up conversation asking how my Vongole was, one of the guys and I engrossed ourselves in a convo on social media and the dilemma we face as artists. I later learned he was Louis Aguirre, a TV host for a local FOX show – DECO Drive. Matt, his guest, was an established interior designer, most known for his work on Disney and Tristar pictures before leaving and setting up shop in Miami.
We talked food, industry, interior decor and they were just an awesome cherry on top of the otherwise perfectly delicious dinner. Oh, and one interesting thing I forgot to mention about the octopus is that the sauce actually comes from the first press of grapes before they make wine. They ferment the liquid till it becomes a version of ‘balsamic’ so it carries a sweeter note than most other ones.
After we ate, we took a stroll through the garden to the back bar. According to Louis and brownie, the dance floor is usually covered with sand…adding to the tropical feel of what we’ve come to know Miami as – a place to relax, dance, party 24/7, eat, drink, and be merry.
P.S. To me, Miami is a classier, tastier, more punch-drunk version of Vegas….slightly more mysterious and much more fun. I describe it as combining the classy/trashy of LA and SF in one city…and you know what? It ain’t half bad.