You don’t have to head to Lincoln Road for nice al fresco dining. Tre Italian Bistro is making Flagler Street in downtown Miami the new place for outdoor eating and people watching.
As the saying goes, good things come in threes, a number that has special meaning for the restaurant. It’s both its name (tre means three in Italian), and its location (the corner of Third and East Flagler Streets). Tre is the third downtown restaurant from the three partners of La Loggia, an Italian restaurant across from the courthouse.
Fortunately there are more than three tables at Tre because the restaurant has been busy since opening last month. The good news for those who have been hungry for a place like this in downtown is that the food is good — and shows potential to get better.
Despite its small bar area, Tre has a good mix of cocktails, all priced at $9. There are the standard South Florida favorites like mojitos and caipirinhas, as well as more adventurous drinks like the Tre-Tini (a cucumber and honeydew vodka martini), the Per Lei (Campari and mandarin vodka with a splash of Sprite), and the rich sounding Stracciatella Martini (vanilla vodka, Godiva light and dark liqueurs and vanilla ice cream).
Though I’m not a big sangria fan I really liked Tre’s white sangria. It’s fruity without being too sweet, and is light and refreshing on a hot day. A glass costs $6 and a 1 liter carafe is $18.
Both the lunch and dinner menus feature a little bit of everything. There are salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizza and classic Italian pasta dishes and entrées.
Like any good Italian restaurant, Tre has great bread. Be sure to have some of the delicious homemade focaccia while you’re looking over the dinner menu. Or go for lunch and have a sandwich on it. It’s even better when dipped in olive oil that the servers pour onto your bread plate.
If you’re a big meatball fan you may be disappointed by Vinnie’s meatballs ($7), which are a little dry and under-seasoned (it didn’t help that mine were served on the cool side). I did like the beef carpaccio ($12), thinly sliced seared filet mignon topped with baby arugula. The meat tasted great though the large portion of arugula needed olive oil or some sort of dressing. I’m not sure whether this omission was intentional or accidental. One quick fix — the servers could leave the olive oil bottles on the table after they pour it onto the bread plate. Update: bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar are now left on the table.
Tre joins a handful of Italian restaurants in downtown that serve individual thin crust pizzas — though you can’t fault them for joining the crowd because their pizza is pretty good. Each pizza is made in a wood oven and is big enough for two people. The Queen Margherita ($9) keeps it simple and tasty, with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil. If you prefer more toppings try the Fig and Prosciutto ($12), a nice balance of salty and sweet with figs, prosciutto di parma, catupiry cheese and tomato sauce.
If you like seafood with some spice, I highly recommend the seafood linguine ($13). It’s black linguine in a fra diavolo sauce with a generous serving of shrimp, scallops and calamari. My pasta came out cooked perfectly, just slightly al dente. Also delicious is the lobster and champagne risotto ($14). It’s creamy without being too heavy, with big chunks of lobster.
If you’re not into pasta try the shiitake crusted mahi-mahi served with sautéed bok choy and bell peppers ($15). The slightly sweet and tangy sauce is so good you’ll wish there was more of it. Another good choice is the roasted chicken marinated in beer and fresh herbs served with truffle roasted potatoes ($14).
For dessert you can’t go wrong with the Tropical Tiramisu ($6), lady fingers and mascarpone layered with strawberries and peaches and topped with toasted coconut, or the Dulce de Leche Soufflé ($7), a warm caramel soufflé with vanilla ice cream and freshly ground cinnamon. Or order the Stracciatella Martini, which has enough ice cream to double as a dessert.
Tre also offers a weekend brunch, featuring traditional breakfast fare. Dishes cost $12 and include a Mimosa, Bloody Mary, glass of sangria, fresh orange juice or cappuccino. Want a second or third drink? They cost $3, of course!
Tre Italian Bistro is located at 270 East Flagler Street in downtown Miami. It opens at 11am on weekdays and 9am on weekends, and closes at 10pm Monday through Wednesday, 11pm Thursday through Saturday, and 4pm on Sunday. For more visit tremiami.com.