When we think of neighborhoods with good food, Shorecrest has typically been at the bottom of the list. Scratch that: it’s been nowhere on the list. But with recent additions like Pinch Kitchen and The Anderson in Shorecrest/El Portal/Mimo/Upper Eastside/whatever you want to call it, that whole area around the 79th Causeway is transforming into quite the foodie destination.
Antica Mare, with its delicious Italian offerings, should help bolster the neighborhood’s culinary identity even further.
This waterfront eatery is owner Marco Betti’s first restaurant in South Florida. He’s been running a highly successful Italian restaurant in Atlanta called Antica Posta, and Antica Mare is a spinoff of that concept. The former has been open for almost two decades now, and we wouldn’t be surprised if this outpost has the same longevity.
Why? Great food and a killer view — if you can actually find the place, though. It’s hidden in the Shorecrest Club Apartments and can be tough to spot from the street. Once you find it, however, you’ll feel as if you’re being whisked away to Tuscany with all the vibrant flavors that each dish puts forward.
Speaking of the dishes, Antica Mare emphasizes simplicity in its offerings. You won’t find things with tons of ingredients, fancy micro-gastronomy or the latest food trends on the menu. What you’ll find is pure, wholesome Italian fare that will have you dreaming about it days later.
Case in point: the tuna crudo. Served with a crisp, tasty fennel salad and a side of awesome sauce (not a real thing), the fish kicked off the night with fireworks — so much flavor yet so simple. Our other starter, octopus served with arugula salad, was another star in terms of both taste and presentation. Let’s focus on that second part for a sec.
When you usually order octopus at a restaurant, you get it served to you in individual tentacles. For some diners, that can be a little off-putting — in other words, it’s just not sexy. Here, the oh-so-tender cephalopod is sliced horizontally; take a closer look at the photo to see what we mean. Not only is this presentation easier on the eyes, but it’s also easier on the palate. If you’ve always wanted to try octopus, but you can’t get over the ooey gooey tentacle thing, Antica Mare has your back.
Moving onto the entrees: Get the scialatelli al ragú di pesce — yesterday. For those who don’t speak Italian, it basically means house-made noodles with fresh fish mixed in a tomato sauce (don’t quote us on that, though). We love ragu, but fish ragu isn’t something we’d typically order. It just seems weird to us; make it with meat or else, pretty much. However, the dish came HIGHLY recommended from our foodie friends.
Well, being adventurous paid off. The dish lived up to the hype and didn’t skimp on fish. There was a lot of seafood in the dish, but it wasn’t overly fishy. The whole thing was balanced, satisfying and memorable. Continuing with our seafood focus (totally not on purpose), the sea bass was exceptional. Flaky — just like we like it — and oven roasted to perfection, it was a delectable end to our savory courses. Again, simplicity reigns supreme here at Antica Mare. Despite being served with just a bed of sauteed vegetables, the dish didn’t need anything else — it was perfect.
As for desserts, go with the panna cotta. It’s one of the better ones we’ve had — so jiggly and it melts in your mouth. It’s really … cute. The tiramisu is a solid choice, too, and is served in a cup instead of on a plate to liven it up a bit. Both are good, but it really depends on what you want. If you want light, panna cotta for the win. If you want rich and decadent, the tiramisu will do the job.
Overall, Antica Mare is a solid addition to the area. As the neighborhood continues to grow and forge its culinary identity, this Italian eatery should help draw even more curious food fans to this side of town. We’re excited to see what the future holds for the restaurant and Shorecrest/El Portal/Mimo/Upper Eastside (seriously, this area has a million names) as a whole.