Review: Talento, Tuscan Prime, Piazza Italia. A trio of new Italian restaurants on Las Olas Boulevard

When it comes to restaurants on Via Veneto, uh, I mean Las Olas Boulevard, I wish there was more variety. But mostly we get a river of red sauce and a parade of pasta, pizza and prosciutto, with a few giant meatballs, veal parms and grilled steaks and shrimp thrown in. Three more Italian restaurants have opened this year, bringing the total to 12 in a 10-block cluster: Piazza Italia (February), Tuscan Prime (May) and Talento (June). Venice of America, indeed.

The question for a critic and discerning diners: Do any of these newcomers bring something different to the table, or are they just safe exercises in filling seats by offering America’s most popular foreign cuisine? And if all these restaurants do is displace older, staler Italian restaurants, is that progress?

Each of the trio reminds me of something already on Las Olas. Piazza Italia (at the former site of Mangos) is a lively place that is similar to Louie Bossi, with impressive antipasto platters and a back courtyard. Tuscan Prime (in the former home of Grille 401) has elements of Timpano Italian Chophouse, but prettier and with better food. And Talento has shades of Caffe Europa, with desserts displayed in a glass case and a crowded bar scene (happy hour runs all night at Talento’s bar).

That said, each has virtues. My rundown, in order of preference. Be warned: None is cheap (hey, it’s Las Olas).

Tuscan Prime (3 stars)

A diner can’t help but be impressed by the grandness of Tuscan Prime, an elegant two-level restaurant that opened in May. The sleek, sophisticated dining room is dressed in modern black-and-white, with marble tables and red-leather banquettes downstairs and black tablecloths with white napkins on the second level. Tuscan Prime also has some deep-pocketed backing; Michele and Gennaro DiMeo’s Monte Restaurant Development Group own and operate 13 restaurants in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Given the history of shutterings by prior occupants (Riley McDermott’s, Bova Prime, Rare, Grille 401), I wonder if the site is simply too big to succeed.

Tuscan Prime bills itself as an “elevated Italian chophouse,” and my recent meal was straightforward and solid. The beef carpaccio platter ($18) was hefty, thin tenderloin slices topped with a generous scattering of arugula and Parmesan shavings. The BLTA salad ($15) with bacon, butter lettuce, avocado and a double-cheese combo of provolone and Gorgonzola was a little light on tomatoes and heavy on dressing. A 14-ounce New York strip ($49) was fine, cooked properly and served with a trio of sauces — classic Bearnaise, a Brunello reduction and a creamy horseradish that didn’t pair so well with the steak.

There were a few surprises. The bad: no classic veal chop was offered, something I expected (and wanted) from an Italian chophouse. Our server told us it was on the opening menu but didn’t sell and was yanked. The good: the option of seared jumbo scallops on bucatini Amatriciana (San Marzano tomatoes with pancetta and pecorino) was a pairing that worked, with the lean brininess of the sea mixing well with the fatty, salty richness of the pork and cheese. But the $40 price tag seemed a little hefty.

Service was a highlight, with our veteran pro particularly skilled in conversation and the dying art of properly pouring a good bottle of wine (Belle Glos Clark & Telephone Pinot Noir, a good value at $90) with perfect pacing throughout the meal. She continuously returned to fill glasses to the right level (not too much), which allowed us to enjoy sips from appetizer through dessert. In South Florida, where quick over-pours are the norm in order to induce the sale of an extra glass or bottle, the gentle touch was appreciated.

Coolest Office Spaces: Pipeline Tampa mimics the feel of a cigar factory in a modern coworking space

Pipeline Workspaces in Tampa is a high design, shared workspace concept that caters to entrepreneurs, startups, independent professionals and corporate teams.

Pipeline is membership-based and offers a flexible assortment of private offices, dedicated desks, flexible space, and virtual offices, as well as a café, large event space, lounge, technology-enhanced conference rooms and more, according to its Coolest Office Space submission.

What’s unique about Pipeline is its design mimics the feel and architecture of a historic cigar factory.

“The coworking space’s physical layout is circular and swirls around the core reception are, café and meeting rooms. Wrapping the central areas are unique light fixtures and bright exterior offices. The layering concept, reminiscent of a historic cigar factory, is present in shifts of flooring patterns, textures, paint tones, and the ‘wrapper’— an architectural feature that envelops the elevator lobby, reception and café space,” its submission said.


Date of completed renovation: September 2018

Design firm: Gensler

Architecture firm: Gensler

Property owner: Joint venture of City Office REIT, Tower Realty Partners and Feldman Equities

Construction firm: Amicon

Square footage: 15,000

Floor count: One

Employees: 3


Address: 400 North Tampa St., 15th Floor, Tampa

Phone: (813) 384-7775




Twitter: @pipelinespaces

This downtown co-working space allows its members to work ‘As You Like It’

Downtown Orlando has a growing host of coworking spaces, and one of them blends two unlikely themes to spur connections and generate creativity: business and the William Shakespeare play “As You Like It.”

The 12,000-square-foot Pipeline Orlando — which opened in March 2018 on a full floor in the 16-story CenterState Bank building on North Orange Avenue, one of Central Florida’s largest multitenant office buildings — is a shared workspace that caters to entrepreneurs, startups, independent professionals and corporate teams. It’s a membership-based concept, starting at $99 per month for a virtual office and going up to $649 per month for a private suite. It offers companies and businesspeople an assortment of private offices, dedicated desks, flexible space and virtual offices, along with access to a shared café, large event space, lounge and technology-enhanced conference rooms — all with downtown views.

The design takes cues from the origins of the name Orlando, which also was the name of the Shakespearean character who flees to the Forest of Arden in the play. Pipeline Orlando welcomes members “backstage,” where theatrical lighting, open ceilings, wood floors and drapery lead into the “Forest of Arden,” with a wood canopy suspended over the café and flex lounge features a green wall. The North and South “theaters” are designated by the end-to-end proscenium arch, highlighted in a bold pop of color. Wood tones in the furniture and finishes bring a warm feel to the space.

The building landlord is Miami-based Steelbridge Capital LLC, San Francisco-based Gensler handled the design of the space and Miami-based Amicon Construction was the general contractor on the buildout.

Pipeline Orlando was named a winner of Orlando Business Journal’s 2019 Coolest Office Spaces. This feature presents a different company’s space each week through the end of September. Winners are chosen based on their offices’ standout qualities, amenities and tech-savvy features, as well as how the spaces reflects their company’s culture, among other factors.

Here’s more from the firm:

How does the space provide returns to users’ bottom lines? Placing professionals’ side-by-side in a semi-open environment fosters communication and collaboration that otherwise would have been a lost opportunity. By operating out of a shared workspace, companies and entrepreneurs can place their sole focus on growing their business from the moment they walk in the door.

What else would you like to tell us about the space? Pipeline Orlando provides many immediate tangible benefits that traditional stand-alone offices simply cannot offer. In addition to the flexibility of short-term leasing, shared spaces cultivate a social aspect that often is not found in a traditional workspace. Pipeline members are part of a network where they have direct access to everything from potential capital investors to seasoned professionals with the knowledge and experience to help advance their business.

Michaels building on Alton Road hits the market for $47.5M

The newly built retail building on Alton Road in Miami Beach home to Michaels just hit the market for $47.5 million, The Real Deal has learned.

Saber Real Estate Advisors developed the 110,000-square-foot building, called 1800 Alton, last year on the former site of a Chevron gas station.

Marcus & Millichap’s Brett Chetek, Alex Perez and Chris Garavaglia of the Chetek Group have the listing.

The five-story building features nearly 32,000 square feet of retail space on two floors and three levels of parking, with 136 spaces in 78,000 square feet. It was designed by architect Kobi Karp.

The property is 94 percent leased to three national tenants with leases extending more than 10 years, according to marketing materials. Michaels opened in November, occupying almost 23,000 square feet. Citibank opened last week, with 5,000 square feet, and Starbucks has signed a lease for about 2,300 square feet, and is expected to move in this summer, Chetek said.

A fourth space with about 1,800 square feet is available and is being marketed to restaurants and retailers, he said.

Saber Real Estate Advisors, based in New York and Aventura, paid $7.3 million in 2015 for the gas station and service center on a half-acre lot at the corner of Alton Road and 18th Street. The developer scored a $22.25 million construction loan in 2017. Amicon Construction completed the building last year.

Chetek said Saber planned to sell the building after completing it. “They are merchant builders and their strategy for the building was to buy the gas station, redevelop the site and sell it and make a profit and move on to the next project,” he said.

Developers have targeted that strip of Alton Road at the edge of the Sunset Harbour neighborhood near Lincoln Road in recent years. Nearby, Rock Soffer, Elion Partners and members of the Sredni family are building 17 West at 1698 Alton Road, which will house Miami Beach’s first Trader Joe’s. The five-story building will also have loft-style apartments, townhomes, residential amenities, and a parking garage with about 160 spaces.


Miami office tower’s $10M in renovations completed

East End Capital has completed $10 million in renovations to 100 Biscayne, a 30-story office tower in downtown Miami.

The New York-based developer acquired the 310,000-square-foot office building at 100 Biscayne Blvd. for $84 million in 2016. It rebranded it from New World Tower to 100 Biscayne and soon started renovations to improve the building, which was constructed in 1963.

The renovations, which took over a year, are now complete. The building has a new streetscape facade, enhanced corridors and amenity spaces – including two conference rooms, a fitness center and yoga studio – window tinting replacement, and a 35-foot LED digital wall. East End also improved the technology aspects of the building, with better fiber connectivity and a parking service application that notifies tenants via text message when their cars have been retrieved from the garage.

The streetscape facade, exterior improvements and main lobby were designed by Zyscovich Architects, which is also a tenant. MKDA worked on the interior design of the corridors and several move-in-ready suites. Obscura crafted the art in the lobby.

Amicon Construction was the general contractor for much of the work.

“Tenants are looking for greater efficiency, increased communal common areas, more amenitized and technology-infused work spaces,” said Jonathon Yormak, founder and managing principal of East End Capital. “The upgrades completed across 100 Biscayne further enhance its central location and make it an optimal office building to meet the creative and technology markets’ growing desires and demands.”

East End Capital said about 40,000 square feet are available for lease in the building. That means its vacancy rate is about 12.9 percent.

According to the third quarter report by Colliers International South Florida, the office vacancy rate in downtown Miami was 16.9 percent, and there was positive absorption of 76,700 square feet during that quarter. The average asking rent was $45.62 a square foot.

Retail-driven developments aim to revitalize South Miami

Investors and developers have been quietly flocking to South Miami with a retail-driven mindset.

The upscale city bordering Coral Gables has drawn interest from both national and local players as they look to affluent South Florida suburbs for investment opportunities.

Last fall, Federal Realty Investment Trust and its two local partners, Grass River Property and the Comras Company, announced they bought the majority interest in the Shops at Sunset Place for $110 million. The goal is to revamp the aging outdoor mall, which serves as an anchor for downtown South Miami. New tenants so far include outdoor furniture store Frontgate.

In the meantime, a number of smaller projects along South Dixie Highway are banking on South Miami’s potential.

Nearby residents may be familiar with the construction site at 5998 South Dixie Highway, once home to the popular New Chinatown restaurant. The building, which sold to investment firm Greenstreet Real Estate Partners for $5.6 million in 2013, has been razed to make way for a restaurant and office project.

Michael Comras, who’s handling marketing and leasing, told TRD that the new 16,000-square-foot building will have offices on the second floor totaling about 3,300 square feet, three restaurants on the ground floor, and onsite parking. The roughly 31,000-square-foot plot fronts South Dixie Highway, Southwest 73rd Street and 59th Court. “It’s really set up to be a great gathering spot,” Comras told TRD.

Amicon Construction is working on the ground-up development, slated to open in about a year.

J.P. Perez, project manager, said the new two-story building will be a combination of concrete and structural steel with a coral stone facade, anodized bronze and impact glass. The second story walkway will overlook the ground level, and the building will also feature aluminum railings and wood grain porcelain. STA Architectural Group designed the development, which will be set back 40 feet from the curb fronting South Dixie Highway.

A five-minute walk away, the former MacDonald’s Imperial Cleaners store is being gutted, broken up into new retail spaces, and completely renovated. Beilinson Gomez Architects is redesigning that project, at 5840 Southwest 71st Street. McKenzie Construction and Craft are working on the exterior, including coating the outside with an engineered wood product, according to a spokesperson for McKenzie.

And in between both projects is 5887 Sunset Drive, where Comras said the owner is creating a pedestrian paseo between that building and the SunTrust bank branch. “We’re taking an existing building and expanding it,” he said.

Asking rents for ground floor retail space in the area are between $65 a foot and $75 a foot, with the property at 5998 South Dixie Highway “on the higher end of the spectrum,” Comras said. Those restaurants will be a mix of casual and upscale – but not fast food.

East of Sunset Place, the Wendy’s at 6601 Red Road sold to a group of partners for $9 million in November. They eventually plan to redevelop the 38,000-square-foot lot, which is technically in Coral Gables. And on the other side of U.S. 1, closer to the planned South Miami projects, a developer purchased the lease for land near the South Miami Metrorail station in May. Treo Group paid $13 million for the site, which has a five-year development timeframe.

While property investment is still underway, tenants have already moved into other spaces.

In the fall, a shared office space firm opened across the street from Sunset Place, at 5790 Sunset Drive. Around the same time, Denmark-based cafe concept Dr. Smood opened its store steps away at 5801 Sunset Drive.

“We’re really strong believers in the South Dixie corridor,” Comras said. “There’s just a lot of room for improvement.”

Downtown Tampa’s Park Tower wins full-floor coworking space

Downtown Tampa’s oldest office tower has landed a full-floor lease with Pipeline, a coworking company with locations in Philadelphia and throughout Florida.

Pipeline said Monday that it will occupy the entire 15th floor, or 15,000 square feet, of Park Tower at 400 N.Tampa St.

“Tampa’s economy, driven by its growing financial services and information technology sectors, is booming. Major investment in the revitalization of its urban core combined with a tight office market provide a receptive environment for the kind of business and social network Pipeline fosters,” Philippe Houdard, Pipeline co-founder, said in a statement. “In Tampa, we aim to create a place where a community of individuals at different stages of the business cycle can leverage each other’s talents and resources. We’re also establishing a statewide network for our Florida members that they can tap into for their businesses.”

Like most coworking spaces, Pipeline is membership based; memberships start at $99 per month.

Shay Pope and Mike Fisher of CBRE represented Pipeline Workspaces in the transaction. Feldman Equities’ Mike DiBlasi and Ceci Tricoli represented the Park Tower ownership group.

Pipeline, which has locations throughout South Florida, Philadelphia and soon in Orlando, is the most recent in a wave of coworking spaces to enter the Tampa market. Industrious opened a location in SunTrust Financial Centre in late 2017; Office Evolution announced a deal for 7,700 square feet in Westshore’s Lincoln Center.

Station House, a locally owned coworking concept in St. Petersburg, is planning a Tampa location in Hyde Park Village.

Park Tower is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar renovation after it was acquired by a joint venture of Feldman Equities, City Office REIT and Tower Realty Partners in late 2016.

“The Pipeline deal is significant for downtown Tampa,” DiBlasi, Feldman Equities executive vice president for leasing and marketing, said in a statement. “Tampa is joining the likes of Miami in attracting one of the country’s preeminent shared workspace companies to its urban core.”

Pipeline Workspaces to expand to Orlando

Pipeline Workspaces, a South Florida-founded company that manages a network of office space for entrepreneurs, startups and corporate teams, announced this week that it will open its sixth location in Orlando, its latest foray beyond the tri-county region.

Pipeline was founded in 2012 by Philippe Houdard and Todd Oretsky, both former professionals in the corporate world. With Pipeline, the duo hoped to combine creative design and affordable square-footage to help businesses grow, first launching in Miami’s Brickell. Today, the company has four South Florida locations (Brickell, Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale and Doral) and a Philadelphia office.

Pipeline Orlando, at 20 N. Orange Ave. in the city’s downtown, will offer space priced from $199 to more than $5,000 a month, hoping to serve the growing professional base of the Central Florida commerce hub. The location is expected to open in the first quarter of next year.

“The opening of our Orlando workspace is a natural next step in our growth strategy, given the established and growing high-tech, legal and international business community in downtown Orlando,” Oretsky said. “Our goal is to create a business and social network that makes it possible for individuals at different stages of the business cycle to have access to each other’s talents and resources, and build meaningful connections that will help them prosper.”

Future tenants of the Orlando space include Paris Saint-Germain academy, the official academy of the professional soccer club Paris Saint-Germain FC; corporate law firm Yolofsky Law P.A.; and Miami-based construction firm Amicon Construction.

For existing Pipeline members, the Orlando location will be a benefit, too, Houdard said.

“It will offer them greater connectivity and access to multiple networks across the state of Florida,” he said. “This is an exciting time for our brand to plant its flag in Orlando, as the city is experiencing consistent economic growth.”

Pipeline has been home to teams from companies such as Google, Uber and Microsoft, as well as professional services firms and independent entrepreneurs. Pipeline has more than 2,000 members.

New national co-working chain to open in downtown Orlando

A new player is entering Orlando’s co-working market, leasing out an entire floor at the Wells Fargo Tower, 20 N. Orange Ave.

Based in Miami, Pipeline Workspaces has four other locations in Florida and one in Philadelphia. Its shared-workspace model caters to entrepreneurs, corporate teams and professionals.

Pipeline Orlando will occupy the 11th floor at 20 North Orange, located in the heart of Orlando’s Central Business District at the corner of Orange Avenue and Central Boulevard. The space is about 12,000 square feet. Opening is planned for early 2018.

Pipeline has three locations in the Miami area including its original, and one in Fort Lauderdale. The company was founded by Miami entrepreneurs Philippe Houdard and Todd Oretsky.

It joins several other co-working spaces downtown, including Catalyst, Co-Lab and the not-for-profit Canvs Orlando.

A basic membership to use the open spaces at Pipeline is $199 per month. Members can pay a fee to use other Pipeline locations.

Oretsky said downtown Orlando’s business community, including tech companies and international players, attracted it to the new location.

“Our goal is to create a business and social network that makes it possible for individuals at different stages of the business cycle to have access to each other’s talents and resources and build meaningful connections that will help them prosper.”

Pipeline says it already has tenants for the Orlando location, based partly on relationships it has at other locations, including Paris Saint-Germain Academy, the academy of the professional soccer team Paris Saint-Germain FC ; Yolofsky Law, P.A. which specializes in corporate law, estate planning and international business law; and Lift Media, a web design, development and copywriting firm.

Designed by architecture firm Gensler, in conjunction with Pipeline’s internal design team, Pipeline Orlando’s decor has references to Orlando’s history, arts and culture.

“Pipeline’s existing membership will benefit from the opening of our Orlando location as it will offer them greater connectivity and access to multiple networks across the state,” Houdard said. “This is an exciting time for our brand to plant its flag in Orlando, as the city is experiencing consistent economic growth, and new developments are cementing the city’s status as a major business and travel destination.

Saber Real Estate Advisors nabs $22M construction loan for South Beach retail project

New York and Aventura-based Saber Real Estate Advisors bagged a $22.25 million construction loan for a new South Beach retail development.

Property records show FirstBank provided the financing to Saber 1800 LLC for the property at 1824 Alton Road. Saber, led by former Blackstone and Related Companies executive Michael Klinger, also broke ground on the five-story, 110,000-square-foot project.

Michaels Craft Stores is expected to occupy the entire second floor and a portion of the ground floor of the building. The site was previously a gas station, which Saber acquired in 2015 for $7.3 million.

The Miami Beach Design Review Board approved the new commercial project last year, which includes a 160-seat restaurant, 11,561 square feet of ground floor retail space, 15,400 square feet of second floor retail space and 130 parking spaces on two upper levels. Kobi Karp designed the building. Amicon Construction Services is the general contractor.

FirstBank’s Mahesh Pattabhiraman and Elsie Alvarez arranged the financing.

Developers have been targeting the strip of Alton Road near the intersection of Lincoln Road in recent months.

The project is near a property that just sold to Deco Capital Group and RWN Real Estate Partners. The joint venture paid $7.43 million for the building at 1671-1673 Alton Road, with plans to renovate and raise rents, and redevelop as a possibility in the future.