We may have spied Alice herself perched on a wallpaper vine on the back wall at Pani, a candyland-colored fantasy dreamt up by Argentinian Pani Trotta. We recently visited Pani’s first U.S. location, which opened in Aventura Mall in Florida in 2020. What a special opportunity, to experience South American flair without a passport (Pani’s first locations are in Argentina, Peru and Paraguay). In the world of Pani, giraffes dangle chandeliers from their mouths, hot air balloons appear on menus and windows, flamingos prop up tables, the dessert case greets you as you walk through the door, and a multitude of cuisines are interwoven into freshly made delights. You might expect this kind of show-stopping design to be a tourist trap, but no, at Pani’s core is a focus on homemade food. Though an afternoon tea menu is not offered here, it’s a real treat to dine in this whimsical restaurant where we pair cocktails, dinner and dessert with a fragrant array of Tea Forte teas (offered hot or iced). Warning, if you are an adventurous eater, you may have a very hard time choosing from the creative menu options. (The only solution may be return visits!)
L’Italiana (campari, vermouth rosso, extra brut sparkling wine, dried orange) is refreshing and not too sweet. We appreciate the edible flowers and herbs Pani uses to garnish their cocktails.
For an appetizer, Shrimp Phyllosophy (creamy baked shrimp in phyllo pastry with spicy passion fruit dip) – a yummy crispy/creamy bite.
Granny’s Truffle Gnocchi is homemade and served with 4 cheese sauce and fresh truffle.
Pepe Scampi is cooked to perfection and the ladies wish for more shrimp, which is served in a caper, white wine and cream sauce over the house pappardelle.
The Chic Chicken Chic is Pani’s version of a 90s Argentinian classic: crunchy breaded chicken breast covered with creamy corn sauce, served with a side of perfect fries, pico de gallo and maduros (plaintains).
Owner Pani Trotta got her start as a home baker, so the desserts are front and center at Pani
Our server compares this Candy Cake Bar to a Snickers, 3 layers of chocolate marquise, peanut toffee and chocolate ganache, very solid, like a fudge, but yummy.