Shanea Savours: Casa Tua

Casa Tua has been around since 2004, and has pretty well been booked solid every night since it first opened. Located in a quite unique space – a 1925 Spanish style mansion, which, in its last incarnation was a rabbi’s house attached to the present Synagogue.

Casa Tua is located at 1700 James Avenue just off Washington. Tucked away on a quiet secluded street and hidden from view by high hedges, there is no name out front indicating that it is indeed Casa Tua – a “cool factor”. It’s a real oasis in the heart of South Beach.

The interior was created by one of my personal favorites Michele Bonan, who also designed all of the JK properties in Italy. They still have the original blue and white stripped fabrics. The bookshelves are filled with lovely books and knick knacks, fresh flowers galore adorn all the tables, and the black and white photography has now been replaced with colored prints. The restaurant consists of a communal chef’s table, a main floor dining room, an upstairs private, members only club and a five room boutique hotel. There is also the most romantic garden with warm lights spilling from the doorway and lanterns hanging in the trees.

Why has this place been popular since day one? First, it feels like you are dining in someone’s private home. The background music is chill. Note I said background music – not the blaring, can’t hear yourself think kind that is so popular these days. The crowd is trés chic, the ambiance is sophisticated, elegant and romantic. It’s difficult to get a reservation, and it certainly has an air of “snob appeal” … though some might consider it rudeness, than anything.

The food is upscale Italian and the prices are steep. The wine list is extensive. So I think it has retained its popularity due to its overall lifestyle statement.

The food is quite good, but not exquisite by any means.

We enjoyed our appetizers which included a mixed crudo plate which was very fresh and tasty at $27. The white asparagus was good but I honestly prefer green asparagus and it is in season now. The burrata was solid but the tomatoes could have been better quality. How does a restaurant like Marion do it?

For mains, the gnocchi with morels, peas and asparagus was a little gummy. I wish the Dover sole at $50 was served traditionally rather than rolled. It was a little raw inside and when served flat it creates an even cooking and a flakier fish. The branzino at $42 and salmon were also nice but really not amazing. I don’t mind spending these prices for a special occasion but I want a memorable meal. For dessert the passion fruit panna cotta was tart and lovely. The key lime pie was also a nice preparation. So to sum it up the food can be hit or miss depending on what you order.

I also have a bone to pick. Why do you need to add a resort tax on top of my bill? I was not staying at your property. I don’t recall being charged a resort tax when I dine at other hotels. By the way, five rooms doesn’t constitute a resort to me.

We still felt it a special evening dining at Casa Tua. The place is done in good taste, and the food and wine were quite good, as was the service. Coming here you feel like you are living, “la dolce vita”. Valet parking is $20.


Happy Dining, Shanea

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