Or should I say "DWNTWN"? I was meeting some folks dwntwn for lnch today and we had to decide between Prime Blue Grille and Il Gabbiano. Since I wanted to check out Prime Blue for a possible group event I may be doing there in the fall, that was my choice. I haven't yet tried Il Gabbiano yet, but compared to the raves I've been hearing for it, I suspect I chose wrong.
From the entrance you have to go up a flight of stairs to get to the restaurant, then it's got a small bar area (and a tiny little "seafood market" out front) with the restaurant space behind it. The southern wall is all windows which look out onto the Miami River feeding into Biscayne Bay, one of the few spots in Miami where you can actually experience waterfront dining (oddly enough). I believe there were some outdoor tables as well.
The menu seems to take the "something to please everyone" approach - raw bar, several cooked apps, a choice of about a half dozen pizzas, a "build your own salad" option with a multitude of ingredients, then a selection of about 7-8 grilled fish (some filets, some whole fish), about the same number of steaks & chops and the like (each with maybe a half-dozen sauce/garnish options), plus about a half-dozen different "burgers" (i.e. beef, tuna burger, crab cake burger), and maybe 15+ veggie side options. I found it all a bit overwhelming, actually.
We started with some apps for the table - wood-grilled calamari w/ chorizo and fennel, crabcake, and tuna sashimi. The calamari were small squid, bodies slit lengthwise and then opened flat rather than cut into rings. Unfortunately the dish just didn't quite come together for me. The squid were a little underseasoned, the chorizo came out as just one long link in the middle of the dish (thereby doing little to lend its flavor to the rest of the dish in addition to making for awkward serving), and the fennel just didn't seem to match the rest of the flavors. The crabcake was one big messy mound of crab and filler over a bed of creamed corn. Not much to hold my interest. I didn't get to try the tuna sashimi.
I ordered a whole yellowtail with a "vinegary pepper relish" - nice to see that they're serving whole fish, they also had a whole bronzino available too. What I was served was a big fish (probably enough to serve 2), presented whole (w/ head and tail), nicely grilled - but it wasn't a yellowtail. I didn't fully confirm this until I flipped the fish over for side 2 and saw that the skin did not have the typical yellow stripe down the middle, but rather was speckled pink-red. Also, in retrospect, it did not have the split tail fin that a yellowtail ought to have. In any event, it was a nice, fresh, well-grilled fish, whatever it was. On the other hand, the presentation side was all slathered with some sort of unadvertised yellow sauce. I couldn't quite figure out what it was. It wasn't a butter sauce, as it didn't really melt. Maybe it was some sort of mustard sauce, as it had a little tang to it, or perhaps some sort of aioli. Just a little weird. All the other fish ordered at our table got the same treatment.
The pepper relish which accompanied made no sense to me at all. Stringy bits of peppers in vinegar, which were liberally interspersed with gross, bitter pepper seeds. I thought this may have just been one bite where someone hadn't done a good job cleaning a pepper, but they were throughout all of it. We had a side of truffled mashed potatoes which were somewhat stiff in texture, and for which the fat had separated from the potatoes within a few minutes on the table. Also not so nice.
Would have liked to have tried one of the steaks to get the full experience, but it wasn't in the cards today. The fish was good - the rest, not so much.