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Disappointing Vino & Olio; Swooning Over db Bistro Moderne

Lee Klein says that although Vino & Olio is "expansive in ambition, and extravagant in design," it's also "expensive in price" and "that's not what the times demand." Open kitchen aside, "Vino appears more like a stylish nightclub than a restaurant. But, says Klein, "Vino has more pressing problems to worry about."

"The food, for instance, is more typical of what you would find on your plate at a club than a fine dining venue. This is surprising, as chef Andrea Menichetti's bloodline and background promise otherwise." In fact, says Klein, "At Vino, Menichetti is sabotaged by inconsistent preparation."

"Rock hard" rolls, "botched execution," and "a poorly prepared pileup of old, dry flavors," are among the descriptions Klein has for Vino's food-- "Not what one expects when paying $17 for an appetizer."

But not all is negative. Klein gives "Kudos to the Tuscan chef for eschewing a cookie-cutter Italian menu, and instead recreating regional dishes we haven't seen before in local eateries." Then all comes crashing down again with a panzanella salad he compared to "mediocre hors d'oeuvres served by a redundant caterer." Pastas, however, are "successful in a literary sense," but, only because, wait for it, "They read well on paper."

Then there were the "succulent wedges of roast pork" that were "so moist and packed with authentic, delectable country Italian flavor that my frustration with Vino & Olio only intensified . . . The inevitable question would boil to the surface: Why didn't you play like that all year? Or, in this case: How come you didn't cook everything else — or anything else — like that?" [MNT]

On a more positive note, Victoria Pesce Elliott is wooed by db Bistro Moderne , which had her "swooning all the way to the warm, sugar-dusted madeleines." Casual, however, it's not. The "so-called bistro is about as formal a dining experience as can be had in this flip-flop-shod city by the sea."

Even being outed as a critic didn't dissuade VPE from the swoon-fest. "We wondered throughout one three-hour meal why the staff was so solicitous; then we saw our bill, labeled in bold letters "VICTORIA CRITIC."

What worked food wise? Seemingly everything except maybe "the discordant clang of techno music blasting from the speakers and one dish---"An unwieldy tomato tart layered so thickly with sweet and acidic confit that eating more than a bite was a chore."

Bottom line? 3.5 stars. []

db Bistro Moderne

255 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami, FL 33131 305 421 8800