This is a preliminary review. I promise to update it and add more but I wanted to write this while still fresh in my memory…

Ah the Biltmore. An imposing “resort” in the bluest of blue blood enclaves, Coral Gables. The Biltmore ( http://www.biltmorehotel.com ) serves as a first class hotel, inasmuch as a country club for locals.  Since relocating to Miami, I have had 3 or 4 occasions to visit The Biltmore, usually for some type of function or another.  While valet parking is de rigeur in Miami, the Biltmore also gives you the uncommon option of free self – parking.

A beautiful structure ensconced upon  stunning, well landscaped grounds, the staff is flawlessly welcoming and helpful, not at all snooty, and obviously well trained. Still, you are left with no doubt that you are somewhere extraordinary.

Most recently, I had the occasion to dine in Fontana, Biltmore’s Italian themed restaurant.  Fontana has an open style kitchen and a busy feel to it, though not so much to detract from intimacy. The open feel with an abundance of windows fit well with the leisure-luxe vernacular of the Biltmore. One felt relaxed, but not T-shirt & flip-flop relaxed. More like upscale but open to the public golf-club relaxed, but alas that is exactly what the Biltmore is. My first course was Burrata Pugliese ($14), essentially a plate of red and gold tomatoes topped with a generous dollop of Burrata cheese, still in the form of the pouch it came from. Burrata is no pizza cheese! It is light, buttery not at all dense, with an obviously high moisture content. Burrata is a product of Mozzarella and cream.  The plate was garnished with several types of olives and accompanied by a basket of assorted breads.

The main course was Ombrina e Capperi ($29), a creatively presented plate of chilean sea bass (patagonian toothfish), perfectly cooked and garnished with what at first I thought were almonds but were mushrooms, leeks and in a white sauce that spiced but did not overpower the fish.

A co-diner had a delicious looking Tonnarelli alla Carbonara ($20) – Square pasta, cured Guanciale (similar to bacon), in a dressing of eggs, and Italian hard cheeses. I was unable to sample it this time but will report in a future entry.  I ordered an expresso and it did take longer than it should have, but otherwise the staff was attentive. I was part of a large party, perhaps 15 diners in all.  I got called away on an urgency before I was able to enjoy my coffee or dessert, but all the more reason to return.

I want to return in a more intimate setting, but first impressions are very positive. Considering the setting, Biltmore dining is actually a good value.

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