Amazing Treat in South Beach.
Recently, my girlfriend and I dined at 660 and they couldn’t have made her birthday more special for the both of us. When we choose restaurants, I prefer food and she prefers atmosphere and service; since 660 wildly excels in all three, both of us left completely satiated and fulfilled! Before dinner, at our server Frank’s suggestion we ordered the “Flaming Rum Barrel” which put a new twist on an old classic, literally and figuratively. This fresh-fruity cocktail is served with an inside out half lime in which the rind forms a cup that is filled with sugar and 151 proof rum. The lime which floats on top of the strong red beverage is served ablaze and immersed tableside after several moments to properly scorch the sugar into the lime. The effect is such that upon the extinguishment of the flames, the now caramelized sugar imbues the drink with a more sophisticated flavor and gives the illusion of drinking a fruit drink that is lush and candy-like.
The heirloom tomato panzanella must have been tossed immediately before it was served because the toasted crostini lost none of its crunch while the dish still retained a perfect balance between salty, slippery, soft and sensual. On par with this first appetizer was our second, the tuna tiradito, 660’s version of a tuna carpaccio. Truth be told, I was skeptical as raw tuna has become ubiquitous on many menus. However, this dish held its ground because it was supported by flawless execution and once again just the right touch of every flavor promised on the menu description. I could not resist cleaning the flat glass plate with the freshly baked bread brought to us when we ordered.
At this point expectations were very high and 660 continued to exceed them. The 12 hour braised short ribs were bar-none the best short ribs I have eaten to date. One reason for this: our server explained to us that 12 hours is a conservative estimate and that today’s had been braised for 18 hours! Add on top of that the light truffle flavor and creamy risotto served just al-dente enough so that it retained interesting texture and that is the recipe for such an outstanding plate. The flesh was so tender that I thought it impossible had I not tasted it. Our other entrée was the cioppino which was not listed on the menu and was primarily my date’s dinner. It was served in a large pot, and was full of fresh fish, scallops, shrimp, octopus, calamari and clams. The tomato based broth was rich and flavorful: a great contradiction too many seafood stews that are way too thin. My girlfriend was delighted and I was surprised. Ordinarily I avoid such crustacean filled dishes as they tend to leave the octopus and calamari more liken to rubber bands than something that was presumably brought in fresh that morning. Here the seafood was done just right. After finishing my short ribs, it was as if my palate had been cleansed by the sea.
Our enthusiasm did not go unnoticed by the staff as Chef Giorgio spent a remarkable amount of time at our table before desert was served. Extremely mature for his age in terms of his obvious command for the profession Chef Giorgio’s conversation is lively and he has not lost any youthful exuberance. Perhaps that is what is reflected upon by the food: youthful twists on classic dishes carried out by the hand of a master.
This vibe of the entire evening easily transmitted to dessert and we barely had room to share a luscious maple roasted peach cobbler. On almost any other occasion I think we at this point would have both agreed desert would have been too much. This time we made an exception. Sweet, salty, crunchy, creamy and filled with fruit, every bite brought to us pleasant surprise – this vanilla desert is not boring! We ordered ours with two glasses of champagne: a perfect compliment that left us both completely bubbly as we made our exit through the smart looking patio and restaurant.
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