From 1925 to 1992, Gatti Restaurant at 1427 West Avenue held its place as a shining star with Miami Beach eateries, serving up delicious Northern Italian homemade pasta and fresh seafood. This eatery enjoyed a long run by any standard, serving up its last round of cappuccinos in 1992.
Gatti opened its doors in Miami Beach across the street from the Flamingo Hotel, bearing the name of founder Oreste Gatti. For all of those years, the restaurant remained in the Gatti family, passed on by its founder to son Joe, and in turn by Joe to his son, Michael. People loved their engaging stories nearly as much as they did the fine meals. During the dry-as-dust years of Prohibition, the place doubled as a speakeasy, to help keep Miami Beach “wet”.
An unending stream of the famous, infamous, and regular people always showed up ready to be seated. From the book “The Life and Times of Miami Beach” by Ann Armbruster, Michael Gatti said he remembered, “Jackie Gleason was great publicity for us—he’d come in here two nights a week. When Shirley MacLaine was dating Sander Vancour they used to sit in the front room and have violent arguments. Arthur Godfrey would come in, and we’d make a special dish for him—calf liver with raisins marinated in cognac and white wine”. The restaurant was also popular with the Teamsters—Jimmy Hoffa came in often. One particularly odd coupling of “regulars,” in the 1950’s and 60’s, involved notorious gangster Mayer Lansky and his party and founding FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his “longtime companion”, Clyde Tolson. One night because there were no other tables available, they were forced to be seated at adjoining tables.
In 1997, the West Avenue address became the location of “Starfish,” a small and festive nightclub. In 2002, it became the location of the current colorful restaurant by the name of Barton G’s (interior photo below).
Shown are 1940’s vintage postcard and a 1980’s matchbook cover for Gatti Restaurant celebrating its 55th Anniversary.