Since 1969, the cooks at Mario the Baker have followed the same tried-and-true recipes, resulting in pizza after fresh-baked pizza emerging from the oven with the same flavors as the restaurant's very first batch. Diners settle into red and black booths to split signature pizzas, including La Maflosa pizza with sliced eggplant and mozzarella. As part of an unrefusable offer, the Godfather pie comes topped with capicollo, ham, and salami and is served with a side of housemade italian dressing.
In 1978, Argentine pasta craftsman Richard Sanders emigrated to Miami with his wife, Carmen, and opened The Pasta Factory Company. Thirty-three years later, Richard’s three sons—Rick, Fernando, and Leonard—have taken the rigatoni reins, with Fernando spinning housemade linguine, spaghetti, and fettuccine on his father’s original machine. Rick’s favorite part of the job has been watching 20 years of first dates, many of which transformed into years-long courtships and ended in down-on-one-knee marriage proposals—all within the confines of The Pasta Factory Company’s dining room.
With or without the prospect of a proposal, the Sanders family’s authentic Italian fare grew so popular among diners that they expanded The Pasta Factory Company to several locations. Now guests can fall in love with the first meat pie they meet at the original South Miami location, or speed date through fettuccine and cannelloni at the Pasta Factory Express spots.
Located in the newly restored historic Coral Gables Country Club, Liberty Caffe serves freshly baked pastries, crisp salads, and local Florida orange juice. Behind a lit glass case stuffed with crisp salads and buttery croissants, baristas pour foamy cappuccinos at the coffee bar and scoop cups of house-made gelato made from traditional Italian recipes and garnished with fresh strawberries and hazelnuts. Diners can slide into tables facing a row of open, arched windows overlooking the country club's manicured landscape of green grass, swaying palm trees, and fist-shaking groundskeepers.
The menu at Il Corso Trattoria overflows with traditional Italian dishes, displaying examples of lasagna, filet mignon, tilapia, paninis, and brick-oven pizzas. Inside the Old World–style eatery, exposed brick columns stand tall as diners feast on chefs' gourmet handiwork and sample wines that flow straight into the restaurant via transoceanic aqueducts.
The chefs at Empire Lounge & Pizzeria toss dough into thin, circular canvases before slathering them in red or white sauce, topping them with handfuls of mozzarella cheese, and crowning them with vegetables and meats. Red and white sauces also make an appearance on pasta dishes such as spaghetti and lasagna. Along with classic Italian eats, Empire Lounge also serves up a selection of Mediterranean items including fried lamb and marinated chicken kebabs.
Executive Chef Massimo Giannattasio's career has taken him all over the world, cooking meals in Los Angeles, Northern Italy, and Miami, but perhaps the most important kitchen in which he worked is his mother's. At a young age, she taught him that a chef's intuition is as important as any measurement and that if a chef wears another chef's apron, he withers and dies. Chef Giannattasio and his staff rely on those early lessons in the kitchen of Cibo Wine Bar, where they've curated a menu of both traditional and modern Italian dishes.
Surrounded by columns of neatly stacked Chicago bricks, diners take their seats at tables made of sealed butcher block. Servers produce a wine list to rival a French baron's, and waiters bring out appetizers such as polenta fries or carpaccio. Pastas such as ravioli and gnocchi are hallmark dishes, and the chef prepares seasonal risottos year round. Tender cuts of veal and braised beef short ribs are served second. In addition, the kitchen can bake one of 15 gourmet pizzas for the table, with whole wheat options available.
Cibo Wine Bar won the Miami New Times' Best Wine Selection award in 2012. And once you step inside, it's easy to see why. A huge wine rack soars to the top of the restaurant's vaulted ceiling along one wall—it's so tall that Cibo's wine girl uses a harness and rope to reach the top. A vast, full-service bar pours wines and mixed drinks in the front. In the open kitchen, which is framed by exposed brick walls, chefs scurry to prepare meals, and curing meats hang in full sight of the diners.