Opera Italian Restaurant
613 Duval Street
Key West, Florida
Phone: (305) 295-2705
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 5:30 pm to 10:30
Reservations: Highly Suggested
Parking: Metered street parking, ample off-street parking (after banking hours at local businesses).
Payment: Major credit cards accepted (Gift Certificates available)
Price Range: Moderate
Rating: 10+ (on a scale of 1-10, wherein ten is the ultimate.)
Ambiance: The former home of Dim Sum. Lovingly put together with a well thought out floorplan with limited space.
Service: Attentive, thoughtful, efficient and professional!
We recently had the most wonderful experience at the Opera for our daughter's wedding dinner. It was such a warm, personal atmosphere with exceptionally professional service. Gregory was extremely helpful even weeks before the wedding, communicating with me concerning our plans. The food was out-of-this-world, which prompted a second visit by our group.
It was a perfect choice for our small wedding dinner.
A total exercise in being pampered, OPERA is a delightful addition to Key West's offering of authentic Italian cuisine. With food worthy of the Duke of Ferrara (Owner's hometown in Italy), OPERA reminded me of the fine, artistic yet sustaining cuisine available in a fine country inn on a mountain road in the region.
They start diners with a glass of champagne---a thoughtful and welcome touch of courtesy and regard---nice touch. For those of you that need to brush up on your Italian, OPERA provides that opportunity. I was served by an Italian waiter and had the gift of meeting and conversing with owner, Mr. ANDREA BENATTI. He is a genuine, cosmopolitan and skilled restauranteur with a very comforting nature and a heart set perfectly for hosting diners!
On the night I was there (with the inimitable "auntie Tina"), we started with the Polipio Alla Grilia con Pesto di Rucola Piccante (Grilled Octopus with chick peas and a Rucola pesto) and a Tortino di Portobello con Fontina affumicata e Pommodori (Grilled Portobello with Smoked Fontina cheese and roasted tomato). THIS was one *#&%*#%^ of a starter course which set the tone for what was yet to come.
The octopus was like a tenderloin of chicken in appearance and texture with an amazingly accentuating pesto that amplified the unique taste of the dish while refusing to overtake it. The chick peas made a nice and fitting addition which allowed the octopus' flavor to infuse the palate delicately and appropriately. Magnificent!
The grilled portobello was properly "meaty" in texture and extremely flavorful. Accented by a Balsamic vinaigrette, the acidity balanced out the Fontina and tomato perfectly!!!
There are more than eight different pastas on offer and the only one that I felt was longed for was a good Puttanesca. The Fettucine Azzurre con Veredure (Blue Fettucine served with fresh vegetables in a white wine sauce) was very nice. There is 'al dente' and then there is the perfect 'al dente'. Thank you Andrea.
The rare treat of Ossobuco was a thrilling item on the menu. OPERA's Ossobuco di Vitelo con risotto allo Zafferano was truly, truly perfect. The braised veal (on the bone) was served with its own jus and the saffron risotto was incomparable (The ONLY place in America that has amazed me with their version of this dish is Locanda Cavallo in Easton, Pennsylvania---a well-known and popular prix-fixe, 7 course farm/restaurant which is a favorite haunt for locals and visitors alike. The night I was there the guestlist included Jeanie Bryson, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward (locals) and Pavarotti has been known to visit for dinner a few times per year).
Mille grazie per tutti, Andrea! Bravi!! On one night at OPERA, I had the pleasure of dining at the table next to one of Key West's finest restauranteurs (He of the one name) and his delightful and lovely wife. If this review isn't enough---consider where this ultra-talented Chef/Owner went for dinner with his wife that night!!! Ummmmm.
BOTTOM LINE: I would be highly shocked if your experience at OPERA was anything less than the entirely world-class, uplifting and spectacular and very European experience (in a phenomenal way) that mine was. If you don't go, you will truly have missed a wonderful bit of good fortune. GO! Please.
Marc for FoodReference.com