photo courtesy Casa Casuarina
You saw The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. You thought Darren Criss was scary as crazy serial killer Andrew Cunanan, although he was still managed to look cute. Yu marveled at Penelope Cruz playing Donatella Versace and you were obsessed with her blond hair.
But the show left you with one big question: How do I get inside of Versace’s house to see it for myself?
Casa Casuarina, the formal name of the Miami Beach mansion where Versace lived (and died in 1997), was as much a star of American Crime Story as were any of the actors in the show. Rather than building a set on a stage, many scenes were filmed inside the actual mansion, which allowed viewers to feast on Versace’s trademark opulence and aggressive glamour. The murals! The outdoor courtyard! The swimming pool with gold mosaic tiles! It all seemed like a dream in an Italian fairy tale.
Dream no more, because there is a great way to get inside, and it doesn’t involve sneaking past the guards at the door. One of the mansion’s suites has been converted into Sushi by Bou, a traditional omakase, a sushi restaurant where the chef chooses what to serve and the guests eat it or leave hungry.
Sushi by Bou charges the bargain price of $125 per person, which includes tax and tip (cocktails and sake are extra), in exchange for a meal that is reputed to be some of the best sushi this side of The Pacific Ocean. The restaurant has only 4 seats, and diners are kept on a strict schedule of one hour. Arriving a little early is a good way to enjoy the sake vending machine ($30); but show up late for your reservation, too bad, because that’s less sushi time for you.
There are a few other ways to get inside the mansion. Casa Casuarina operates as a hotel, with rooms ranging as low as $400 a night, up into the thousands; hotel guests might be able to arrange some time in the Villa shower, which Versace designed with space for 8, perhaps more if soaped up and conveniently slippery.
There is also an Italian restaurant, Gianni’s, on the ground floor of the mansion, and the view overlooking the pool is gorgeous. Gianni’s is much less expensive than Sushi by Bou, but it caters to the South Beach tourist crowd, not people looking for an amazing meal. Sushi by Bou gives the Versace Mansion some foodie credibility, which is an impressive feat amidst the tourist traps of Ocean Drive where annoying hostesses wave menus in people’s faces and pretend the food inside is good.
Plus Sushi by Bou is upstairs, in Versace’s former bedroom suite. Eating there involves walking through much of the actual mansion. So satisfy those Versace dreams, and dine while surrounded by the glitz and glamour of glitterati days gone by, and pay homage to one of the greatest artists of our time. Just don’t be one of the people who lays on the front steps and pretends they got shot by Andrew Cunanan, for the sake of taking a photo.
That’s just tacky.