Wednesday night at 9pm and the place is still quite busy. The patio
is full so we are seated inside. Upon requesting a seat outside we are
accommodated and are seated at the bar to wait. Having our usual drinks we opt for singles. Now if you have ever been to most places in the US, you will know that they "free pour" the drinks, so a regular drink has the strength of 1.5 or a double...this place is no exception! When our table was ready, the host grabbed our drinks and escorted us to our table. The atmosphere is very cool, you can tell it started off, and has remained, a family oriented establishment. The walls are covered with pictures of famous people who have visited this restaurant, and it lends a very quaint and comfortable feel to the place. In addition, the staff is very friendly and our waiter in particular was very knowledgeable and engaging.
Seated outside our waiter immediately noticing we had drinks, and asked us if we had any questions or if we wanted anything further. I, the water drinker, requested a glass of water with a lemon in it. Shortly after having received our water, a few rolls of fresh bread were delivered. Looking around for butter, we requested some, which came shortly...however, a minute later our waiter dropped by with a unique olive oil mixture that they usually serve with the bread....and WOW was it good! I'm sure we have all been privy to the common practice of dipping bread into an olive oil/balsamic vinegar solution, but this had pesto, chili flakes, and bits of garlic, which was simply an amazing combination... Sooooooooo goooooood.... So we forgot all about the butter and stuck with the dip.
Our appies arrived quickly...crab cakes and bruschetta. The bruschetta had buffalo mozzarella something that I have never had before, but oddly found it adopted the flavor of the brucestta, making the entire dish quite appetizing. Eloquently presented, it came in a plate of three and was perfect. The bread wasn't too hard, just the right toasted consistency and the tomatoes scattered throughout. Our crab cakes were accompanied with a mango salsa/chutney and a small salad. The presentation of the two were great and the taste, out of this world...just the perfect blend of herbs and being on the patio we noticed the location, although off the "beating tourist path", was noisy as traffic passed by. But being off the strip has definite advantages, as this place maintains more of a quaint feeling. If SJ and I had walked away with just our appies we would have walked away completely satisfied.
Dinner arrived and the special that SJ ordered was a tomato bolognese sauce with cream and itailian sausage. Simply amazing! Filling, generous portions, creamy and scrumptious. My veal piccata paired with lemon sauce and capers, and was simply to die for. Not too salty, not too much lemon. The dish was perfect, and the pasta that accompanied it was done perfectly...not over cooked at all...just right.
Finishing off our bottle of wine SJ and I couldn't help but wonder why there aren't many more places like this around, a flourishing family restaurant that serves great food, great quality, and provides that feeling of comfort and home.
At the end of the meal, the waiter brought us a few biscotti cookies...adding to the warmth of the experience. This place is a gem. A cozy little neighborhood restaurant with chefs who prepare wonderful dishes, that are served by excellent staff. It is a must try if you're ever in Miami. If you like Italian food, you're sure to love this place.
Location visited: 414 71st street (Miami Beach)
Presentation: Above Average
Service: Above Average
Value: Above Average
The Meal Truth - Undercover food critics