Located in the former Versace Mansion on Ocean Drive on South Beach, Gianni’s at the Villa is a fabulous dining option that’s hidden away in the Villa Casa Casuarina resort.  Built in 1930 as a private residence by an oil tycoon’s son, the home is best known for its most famous inhabitant, fashion icon Gianni Versace, from 1992 until his assassination on the front steps in 1997.

I have been to Gianni’s before for dinner and was excited to learn they are now open for lunch, offering a three-course meal for $29 with upgrades available.  My dining companion and I headed down to SoBe on Christmas Day, excited to do something different this year for the holiday. I think I have found my new Christmas Day tradition!

The restaurant is located in the interior rooms on the main floor, the covered raised terrace and poolside. While dark and romantic at night, the dining experience takes on a different fresh and spa-like feeling during the day.  The sunlight also allows you to better take in the exquisite architectural details of this magnificent structure.

Back to the food…For $29 you can select a first course, a main dish and dessert. The menu at Gianni’s gives a nod to Versace’s cultural heritage with Italian and Mediterranean offerings.  The lunch items are mostly the same recipes available for dinner, when they are three times the price, so this prefixed menu is quite the value!

I suggested we both order something different and enjoy our selection family style, which seemed to be what everyone else was doing.  Choices for the first course include a Tomato Salad, Beef Carpaccio and a House Salad but we selected the Grilled Spanish Octopus (+$10) and the Burrata with Tomato, Prosciutto and Grissini. The delicate and decadent baby octopus was cut in chunks, cooked perfectly and served over Polenta alla Lemon with Basil Chimichurri sauce.  The creamy Burrata was plated elegantly alongside its accompaniments.

Entrée choices for this fabulous préfixé meal included the Mediterranean Fish of the Day, Wild Salmon, Free Range Chicken and Spaghetti Pomodoro but we chose the Australian Lamb Chops (+$10) with Au Jus and fried potatoes and Black Seafood Pasta (+$15) with shrimp, scallops and octopus. The yummy baby lamb chops were seasoned and grilled to a medium temperature and accompanied by a side of al dente carrot and broccoli. The Black Seafood Pasta was a heartier dish and is one of the most popular items on the dinner menu at Giannis.  I recommend both!

We rounded out our Christmas lunch with an artful presentation of fresh fruit and premium vanilla ice cream, but a selection of sorbets is also available. OK, we splurged and did several menu upgrades, but it was Christmas, after all!  An extensive wine list, specialty cocktails and a full bar will ensure to round out a spectacular experience!

Gianni’s at the Villa is open for lunch and dinner daily. Advance reservations and “casual chic” attire is required. The Villa Casa Casuarina also offers luxury overnight accommodations in one of the 10 opulent guest rooms starting at $475 per night.

Gianni’s at the Villa at the Villa Casa Casuarina

1116 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, Florida