Posted April 26, 2016
By SOPHIE BARROS
Most people love a good dish of Italian food. An al dente pasta, covered by creamy smooth sauce, is the perfect way to go on any occasion and new Italian restaurant Spasso can definitely fulfill all your expectations.
Spasso opened on Feb. 3, 2016, and replaced another Italian restaurant (Calamari) in Coconut Grove. While the space and layout are generally the same, the dishes now have the special touch of Chef Gaetano Ascione, who has very distinguished accomplishments.
Ascione, a native of Naples, Italy, has cooked for two U.S. presidents as Chef de Cuisine at the Georgetown Club in Washington, D.C., and for Nelson Mandela during his Inaugural Banquet. With such high credentials, Ascione’s dishes did not fall short of presidential.
A night at Spasso is calm and extremely fulfilling. With a wide range of appetizers, entrees and desserts, it is practically impossible to be disappointed by the menu options.
The asparagi ($9) presented an interesting and delicious mixture of flavors by combining pencil asparagus, boiled eggs and Gorgonzola cheese with thyme dressing.
Also worth trying are the polpettine ($10), a beef and veal meatball, and the Parmigiana di melanzane ($10), an eggplant parmigiana. Service for appetizers was quick and efficient, followed by a loaf of pre-cut warm ciabatta bread that you can savor with olive oil.
As for the main entrees, the winners were definitely the tortelloni ($18) and the Wild mushroom risotto ($16). The tortelloni was perfectly cooked and enhanced by the flavors of spinach, mozzarella and a rich truffle fondue. The portion could use an increase by one or two tortellini squares, but given the price and the expensive ingredients involved, it is most definitely worth it.
The wild mushroom risotto was simply out of this world. With one bite you can taste perfectly cooked rice enriched by the flavors of buttery mushrooms and spices. Unlike mushroom risottos in other Italian restaurants, Spasso gives their customers the full brutal flavor they promise on their menus. Not only do you see large portions of wild mushroom on your plate, but you also taste the exotic and rich flavor it provides.
Another high contender was the raviolini alla doppia crema ($16), a very filling four-cheese stuffed pasta dish with pesto and cream sauce. All the dishes were neatly presented in white dishes and were brought to the table with the perfect temperature.
After a very satisfying dinner, one can fear that dessert will be too much, but you cannot leave Spasso without trying the classic tiramisu ($10). While the portion can be individual, it is very practical to share this dessert, especially after such a nourishing meal. Spasso’s signature dessert is the right amount of sweet and becomes a magic explosion of flavors upon contact with your pallet. The humid chocolate cake and the soft cream leave you wanting more and are the perfect end to a night at the restaurant.
While the food at Spasso is fantastic, there are a few service issues due to miscommunication between waiters and the hostess, as well as between waiters themselves. This tends to be the case with new restaurants, as they are still becoming accustomed to the location and the logistics. However, it must be noted that any minor service mistakes are completely overshadowed by the amazing quality of the food.
Upon entrance, seating is confusing, as the waiters direct parties to tables without notifying the hostess, making her leave her post to greet you at the table and ask you if you have a reservation. This could cause potential problems when the restaurant is full, as a party who was already seated by the waiter may be asked to leave by the hostess, who knows if the table belongs to another party.
Additionally, when the restaurant is quiet, more than one server can take your order and bring you your food, which causes major delays in service towards the end of the meal because, while you might have gotten the dessert menu from one person, the other person does not know they should go take your order.
Despite these minor details, service was consistently good throughout the dinner. All waiters were extremely friendly and approachable, stopping by frequently to check on the table and even encouraging customers to take extra Parmesan cheese by placing it on the rims of the plate.
The ambiance tops everything off by offering customers a variety of outdoors and indoors seating. While the music variety was too eclectic for an Italian restaurant, consisting mainly of Latin songs, the volume was perfect enough to add to the atmosphere and to allow customers to have pleasant conversations.
Finally, Spasso offers a great variety of prices and dish types, making it the perfect place for any occasion. The menu includes various vegetarian and gluten free options, appealing to a wider audience than most Italian restaurants. Whether you go there with family, friends or even a date, Spasso provides the right ambiance, the right variety and the right amount of delicious food.
- Restaurant Name: Spasso
- Address: 3540 Main Highway – Coconut Grove, Fla. 33133
- Reservations: 305-441-0219
- Hours of Operation: Lunch: Mondays – Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Sunday Brunch: 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.; Dinner: Mondays – Thursdays: 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Fridays – Saturdays, 4:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Sundays, 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
- Type of Cuisine: Italian
- Price Range per person: $30+
- Paying Methods: Cash, Debit/Credit Card
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars