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Posts Tagged ‘Italian’


Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

6789 Biscayne Boulevard

This London based chain has popped up in locations such as Lincoln Road, Mary Brickell Village and S. Miami Avenue. Balans offers reliable and generous portions of familiar dishes such as wild mushroom linguini, penne all’arrabiata and a chicken, spinach and ricotta cannelloni for the pasta course. Grilled eggplant, smothered in tomato, garlic and aged Gruyere, or a Greek platter satisfy as vegetarian dishes in the appetizer category. Not every dish works, but I highly suggest the double cheese soufflé teamed with mixed greens and a citrus dressing. Steaks come lightly charred and served as ordered. There are occasional glitches in service, but the restaurant is attractive and modern.

Sunday – Thursday: 8:00 am – 11:00 pm
Friday – Sunday: 8:00 am – 12:00 am


Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

3250 Northeast 1st Ave #107
(786) 245-6211

Bocce Bar occupies the location vacated by Sustain, and just a few steps down from Sugarcane on NE 1st Avenue in Midtown.  This is convenient for Executive Chef, Timon Balloo who has been at the helm of the kitchen at Sugarcane Raw Bar and Grill for four years.  Balloo also now presides over this newest Italian addition to the Sushi Samba empire. As the name implies, diners are indeed invited to play out front on Miami’s first bocce court while enjoying dinner al fresco.

Inside, a hostess graciously welcomes those preferring to dine in the main dining room, and leads the way into a large space adjacent to a high energy bar and directly in front of an open kitchen equipped with a brick oven.

A rustic atmosphere prevails, where rickety vintage wooden chairs, tables and worn tiles underfoot, complement mismatched mirrors on the walls.  The staff is very friendly and sometimes, a bit too helpful. The current epidemic of small plates continues here.  Semolina dusted crispy artichokes with mustard seed aoli is a palate pleaser; as was a rich polenta further enhanced by a poached egg and served aside brocolini to balance the richness.

The fromaggi section of the menu offers three cheeses for $22 and includes a ricotta di bufala with English peas, mint and truffles, taleggio accompanied by walnuts, and parmigiano Reggiano with honey and grapes. While Salumi  arrives with a radicchio marmalade and giardiniera, a relish of pickled vegetables. In the pasta category, two homemade pastas appear, pappardelle with mushroom ragu and spaghetti with Key West shrimp, shaved baby artichokes and bottarga.  Handcrafted pasta makes all the difference, but orecchiette with duck and butternut squash, likewise is a good option.

Moving on to the main dishes, the Brasato de Manzo, or slow braised short ribs lacked the intense complex flavors and the melting texture one expects.  Try instead, the lamb shank honey roasted, potato and citrus grilled leeks, or the Murray farm chicken, brick oven roasted with olives, cherry tomatoes and a pan jus you could devour with a giant spoon  This is the real star of the Secondi, bursting with deep flavor and a truly complex character.

One dessert is a must here.  Honey crisp cannelloni served with warm stewed strawberries and 25 year-old balsamic and gelato is a champion recipe not to be missed.  Bocce makes it’s own Limoncello and Amaretto in house, and has a large selection of specialty drinks, many take off from the classic Negroni with Campari as the point of departure.

Monday – Thursday: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Sunday: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm


Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

3918 N Miami Ave
(786) 275-4963

Michael Schwartz of Michael’s Genuine in the Design District has recently taken over a defunct pizza parlor and proven, once again, that he knows how to do it better.  The polenta fries are reason enough to frequent this pizzeria. Homemade tomato catsup gives them just the right amount of sweet and spice, and a four-beer flight at lunch is the perfect match. Share an order with friends before continuing to one of the many unusual thin crust pizza combinations.  On one evening, the Florida rock shrimp pizza was a hit as well as a leek and potato pizza with béchamel and mozzarella.  Michael’s mouthwatering rendition of pulled pork, with fig and grilled onions atop a sizzling hot pie, has been a consistent hit at his namesake restaurant ever since he opened, and is a faultless choice here, as well.

Soups at lunch change daily and have deeply satisfying combinations, such as short rib and Poulet Rouge chicken soup with fennel, tomato, orzo and basil.  On another occasion, a white bean and ham soup garnished with crispy shallots and parsley was a hearty meal in itself. Michael invites visiting chefs to prepare pre-fixe dinners based upon a menu of their own design.  Make sure you’re on his email list to be notified of these special nights!

Monday – Thursday: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Friday – Saturday:  12:00 pm – 12:00 am
Sunday: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm


Thursday, April 1st, 2010

2506 NW 2nd Avenue

Hip eatery in the heart of the Wynnwood Art district (adjacent to the Design district.) with an open kitchen serving Italian specialties from the Veneto region. Chef Ivo Mazzone, churns out thin crusted pizzas and foccacia in his gigantic oven and crafts home-made pastas in the early morning hours to bring to you that day. You’ll find a side patio lined with trees and dressed with lights in the evening.  Local artists and gallerists frequent this noisy spot.  Many items are offered in half portions to accommodate a modest budget. Farmhouse fare includes oven-roasted Cornish hen, beef stew with polenta and cod with eggplant and tomatoes.

Monday – Friday: 11:30 am – 3:30 pm
Monday – Thursday: 6 pm – 10 pm
Friday – Saturday 6:00 pm – 11:30 pm


Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

4600 NE 2nd Ave
(305) 576-7444

Melodies like  “Just One of Those Things” and “Ain’t Misbehavin,” are playing as you enter this new neighborhood offering from the same proprietors as Limoni, just two doors away.  Both spaces look remarkably similar, but the pizzeria continues it’s nostalgic feel with a collection of rusty utensils from grandma’s kitchen randomly scattered about the walls.

Thirty pizzas in 12” and 16” sizes offer something for everyone.  “Merci,” a white pie of ricotta, goat and Mozzarella cheese with sundried tomatoes and herbs is a crowd pleaser. The crust arrived perfectly crisp and oozing with cheese.  This unassuming spot offers a full compliment of tasty appetizers including an antipasti plate, spicy shrimp scampi and a tomato, eggplant bruschetta, infused with truffle oil.

Baked pastas such as manicotti, beef lasagna and a baked ziti with ricotta are well-executed classics.  Extra toppings, at $1.00-$3.00, permit the fussiest of diners to ad lib and customize a bit on the pizzas, calzones and stromboli.  All the food arrives piping hot.


Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

4141 NE 2nd Ave #101
(305) 456 – 9948

MC Kitchen in the Design District, has the makings of a great Modern Italian restaurant. Dina Marino began cooking in her childhood home where her mother and grandmother manned the kitchen, turning out homemade pastas, sausages and creative pizzas. She honed her culinary skills at the Culinary Institute of America. Marino then worked under the tutelage of Michael Chiarello in his celebrated Tra Vigne in Napa Valley, followed by years as a chef of three of Aspen, Colorado’s top restaurants. Upon her arrival in Miami, Dina and partner, Brandy Coletta, wasted no time giving the interior of what was formerly Fratelli Lyon, a smart new look.  White orchids on crisp tablecloths and butterflies that flutter on a Brazilian wood wall soften the main room.  The ambiance is at once sophisticated and calm; where diners can share an intimate dinner and a conversation, even when all 145 seats are occupied.

Several remarkable antipasti spearhead the menu. I was most captivated by the artichoke heart bruschetta, which is exquisitely posed below a farm poached egg and shaved black truffles, and finished with a creamy Parmigiano fonduta. On a rather quiet evening, it appeared that the artichokes had run low and one heart was portioned among several plates. Nonetheless, the flavors sang out, and the combination was a triumph.  On a lighter note, halibut crudo was perfectly dressed in hearts of palm, baby artichoke shavings and lemon oil. Chili, garlic, basil and orange zest enlivened oven roasted langoustines over polenta. Ten pastas, mostly homemade, are currently on the winter menu. This is an area of the menu where Marino excels. The garganelli Bolognese is a lusty standout of veal, venison, pork and porcini mushrooms. The pumpkin tortellini is flush with Florida rabbit ragu, Tuscan cabbage and house made ricotta.  Signature selections include the lamb sirloin, charred outside locking in the meaty juices, and served with braised lentils, apple butter, and a frisee salad.

Also deserving of your attention and a cause for real indulgence is the Gianduia chocolate mousse crowning a sea salt sugar nest.

Monday – Sunday: 11:00 am – 4:30 pm, 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm


Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

3451 NE 1st Avenue
(305) 424-9588

Salumeria 104 is more than a pleasant surprise from another of the unassuming new restaurants lining 1st Avenue in Midtown. The restaurant showcases an extensive list of artisanal carved meats and cheeses which include: Prosciutto di Parma, Proscuitto San Daniele,  Cotto al Tartufo, Mortadella and Bresaola, as well as a homemade bufala, and parmigiano reggiano.

If you long for homemade pasta, you are in luck. The menu currently boasts five including Ricotta cheese cavatello, semolina gnocchi with Parmesan and crispy prosciutto, tagliatelle laden with a rich Bolognese sauce or ham in a cream sauce.  Porchetta, roasted pork loin wrapped in pork belly was dry on one occasion but braised pork ribs with broccolini and chick peas were tender and flavorful.  Like the other restaurants along this tree-lined street, outdoor dining is an added perk.

Monday – Thursday, Sunday: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am