Ken Fulk fuses coastal influences at the new Miami restaurant Casadonna

An instant icon, daubed in pinks and greens

New Miami restaurant Casadonna brings a taste of the Italian Riviera to the shores of Biscayne Bay.

Casadonna takes over the bottom levels of the landmark Miami Women’s Club building in the Edgewater neighbourhood. Designed by August Geiger and opened in 1926, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, having been one of the first publicly accessible libraries in Florida. However, it eventually fell into disrepair before catching the eye of Groot Hospitality founder David Grutman and Tao Group Hospitality co-CEO Noah Tepperberg.

The pair enlisted designer Ken Fulk to transform the lower levels of the crumbling space into a lively and modern 20,000-sq-ft culinary hub – Grutman and Tepperberg’s first collaboration– with the team attempting to preserve as much of its original charm as possible while modernising the 97-year-old building for its new role.

Casadonna means ‘house of women’ in Italian, and to heighten its heritage, Fulk has adopted a ‘grand palazzo’ aesthetic across the interiors, enlivened by a classic Miami palette of pinks and aqua shades.

Diners enter through the courtyard, outfitted with a retractable roof and bar inlaid with antique mirrors and glowing lanterns hanging overhead. The building’s towering arched windows – originally painted an aqua blue shade – have been restored, and their colour echoes across the Miami restaurant’s dining room and lounge areas – each of which has a distinct character and vibe.

First up is the Garden Dining Room, which features geometric, terracotta floor tiles and textured plaster walls. They are hung with an assortment of artworks and historical photography of the Women’s Club over the century, while the banquette seating is upholstered with a unique ‘Floridian’ design of local flora and fauna, adding a quirky touch.

Photography: Ngoc Minh Ngo

And what grand palazzo is complete without its own Loggia?

Casadonna’s Loggia Dining Room features coffered ceilings hung with a huge Murano glass chandelier made by Fabio Ltd. Dining chairs, meanwhile, were designed by Fulk and channel an ‘Old Havana‘ vibe, upholstered in different fabrics for different rooms.

Last but not least, the Ocean Bar and Lounge offers al fresco drinks and dining and has been cleverly landscaped by Raymond Jungles with native plants and trees to frame views of the bay and screen surrounding buildings. In another nod to Old Havana, the space is dressed with midcentury modern sofas, rattan armchairs, and simple stone-topped tables.

Casadonna’s expansive menu is focussed entirely on the Italian Riviera, emphasising fresh seafood and seasonal ingredients and showcasing traditional recipes favoured in Southern coastal towns like Naples, Taormina, Bari, Positano and Gaeta.

1737 N Bayshore Drive, Miami, FL 33132, USA

Photography: Ngoc Minh Ngo

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