Deep in the industrial, strip mall-laden outskirts of Miami International Airport hides OCIO, an Italian restaurant founded on such well-executed simplicity that it even impressed the discerning tastebuds of our friend Jamison. (You may remember Jamison and his "Yelp-vouched good taste" from our 2014 "Lunch Like A Local: Coral Gables" feature.) In fact, the entire 20 minute car ride to Doral he didn't stop amping about the menu saying, "I don't care how much it costs. We're getting the lobster ravioli and the chicken parm and the braised short rib and a bottle of wine and..." To be honest, we stopped listening after the third "and", primarily because we were amping ourselves about the spaghetti pomodoro we'd spotted on food writer Amber Bond's Instagram page earlier in the week.
Jamison's dreams were quickly crushed when he discovered our introduction to OCIO consisted of a pre-selected chef's tasting menu (featuring few of his wish list items) with little room for off roading into the full menu. He wistfully admired the menu's offerings while resolving himself to the notion that he would have to come back soon to try everything else. Meanwhile, across the table, we were in absolute awe at the captivatingly beautiful and colorful pages of the menus, which look like art that got lost on its way to Art Basel and made its surrogate home in the restaurant's dining room. (Seriously though, we wanted to take one of them home with us to perch on our coffee table.)
The first course was a citrusy octopus carpaccio that was so good Jamison had eaten half the plate by the time we finished taking photos. The second was a charcuterie plate surrounding a mound of artichoke hearts. If you know anything about us, you know we LOOOOVE charcuterie and we LOOOOVE artichokes so it comes as no surprise that we licked the second plate clean as well. The third and fourth courses were pasta dishes: the spaghetti pomodoro whose reputation preceded its arrival on our table and a three cheese tortellini in amaretto sauce that Jamison dubbed "pockets of heaven". Like the champs that we are, we ate every single bite of both and powered next through a tender ossobucco and a flaky corvina, straight into a cube of tiramisu.
We've seen other food writers talk about falling in love with a delicious dish or meal. And, while our Instagram page is practically an ode to how much we love food, we have never thought about our eating experiences as romantic—until we visited OCIO. (It sounds bizarre, we know. In fact, everyone we've verbally recapped the meal to thinks we're referring to Jamison when we talk about our romantic meal.) Jamison put it best when he raved about our experience and expressly referenced the chef's focus on perfecting classic recipes using fresh ingredients as the primary reason. In a city that tends to have a flare for the excessive and complex—which, to be clear, we love under the right circumstances—OCIO is an absolute breath of fresh air. We can't wait to follow its journey as it grows into the Miami staple we know it deserves to become.