Miami was a much more pleasant and calmer experience since we arrived at exactly 6pm (our reservation time) and the place was nearly empty.
Instead of ordering an appetizer, we decided to try a meat and cheese combination. You can choose from 4 different meats and 4 different cheeses that are available as side items. They also have some Mozzarella Bar options that we still haven't tried as well. We knew we wanted to go for the Pecorino al Tartufo Moliterno (sheep milk with truffle shavings, firm) and with that, Aurelio recommended we pair the Wild Boar Salumi. Definitely nothing either of us have had before so we were looking forward to pairing it with a familiar cheese. This course did NOT disappoint. The meat and cheese tray was accompanied by honeyed walnuts, a tomato jam, pickled vegetables, watercress, some type of small pepper and pieces of raisin toast. I mixed and matched what I put together on my fork and was met with the perfect bite when I went right down the right side of honeyed walnuts, tomato jam and Pecorino cheese. An amazing combination of sweet, crunch and the taste of truffle in the cheese. The Wild Boar Salumi was fantastic with the pickled vegetables and I did not find it to seem "game-y" at all. It was a wonderfully bold-flavored salami with peppercorn that paired very well with this cheese.
Mark's chops had a perfect amount of seasoning and wrapped in a delicate layer of crispy prosciutto. They were covered in shaved truffle pecorino cheese and pea shoots. The proscuitto was a very subtle flavor and the pea shoots added a nice hint of freshness to the dish. Also on the dish were grilled pearled onions that added a nice char flavor to the polenta without being overpowering.
My first bite of the Butternut Squash Tortellaci kind of reminded of of that scene from the movie Ratatouille when the food critic took a bite of the dish and was mentally transported back to the comforting foods of his childhood. The tortellaci was paired with a parmesan brown butter sauce that was wonderfully rich and sweet. It gave the dish an almost dessert-like feel with its flavor being much like a warm maple syrup. This dish paired incredibly well with my Barbera wine and the crispy sage on top of each piece gave just the right amount of crunch to satisfy my "mental palate." If I had to give only one critique to the dish it is that I wish the butternut squash flavor would come out just a touch more as it was a bit overwhelmed by that amazing brown butter sauce.
And I feel like I say this all the time but maybe I don't write about it enough in this blog. Portion sizes are out of control in America and often I am convinced I would pay the exact same amount of money for half sized portions of food in most restaurants. (Did ya hear that America?) I would be much more satisfied paying the SAME amount of money for HALF the food and not leaving feeling overly stuffed because (as most all good Midwestern girls do) I feel obligated to "clean my plate."
At Siena Tavern we each had one glass of wine, split an appetizer of meat and cheese, ordered our own entrees and still had a reasonable amount of room in our stomachs to opt in for dessert. THANK YOU for proper portions on your courses!!
For dessert we decided on the Monkeybread which came in a smooth, not too heavy caramel sauce and was accompanied by a topping of hazelnut cream and candied hazelnuts. (Excuse me a minute, I'm in my happy place....) The bread was clearly freshly made and the dessert overall was a perfect amount of sweet and crunch to share and end the night. And of course I can never resist trying homemade gelato so we also got a scoop of the salted caramel. It was cold, soft, smooth and had just the right amount of caramel swirled into it. Many salted caramel ice creams come with too much "grit" in the caramel swirl. You will NOT find that here.
So we clearly are giving Siena Tavern Miami a glowing 5-stars for spectacular food and service.