For all of you who believe that Italian cuisine must be heavy to be good, meet Chef Gaetano Ascione, whose Spasso restaurant in the Coconut Grove section of Miami is one of South Florida’s top Italian eateries.
Located on Main Highway in Coconut Grove, Spasso (www.spassomiami.com) is a “must visit’’ for Miami Spice, which runs through Sept. 30. It’s a chef-driven restaurant that feature Naples, Italy born Ascione’s takes on Italian favorites. Ascione, whose personality is as big as his dishes are flavorful, is never far from Spasso’s open kitchen or a guest’s table. It’s his first year participating in Miami Spice.
“In the old days, people used to only come out for Miami Spice,’’ Ascione said. “Now it’s a little better. That’s why want to showcase what we do.’’
What Ascione and his team does is create perhaps the lightest Italian fare you’ll ever taste, all the while maintaining the flavors, consistency and presentation you expect from a top-notch Italian restaurant.
For Spasso’s Miami Spice menu, that includes an outstanding Tortello “Cacio Pepe’’ that features homemade tortellini pasta stuffed with pecorino cheese, potatoes and white onion e umbrian black truffle fondue. It’s Ascione’s take on an old, traditional Roman dish.
“A very simple dish,’’ Ascione said. “I’m very proud of it because it’s a deconstruction of the original.’’
Tagliata di Manzo, Rucola e Parmigiano is the eight-ounce dried aged filet mignon sliced and served with baby arugula and 36-month parmigiano, balsamic and extra virgin olive oil also is a an outstanding dish on the Miami Spice menu.
Off the Miami Spice, don’t miss Ascione’s lighter-than-air meatballs as well as the Ravioloni alla Doppia Crema four-cheese stuffed pasta, tomatoes, a touch of cream and parmigiano pesto.
For those who want to learn more about Italian cooking, Acione offers specially curated cooking classes. The classes held regularly at Spasso as part of the restaurant’s new Cooking Academy.