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.
Inspired by the menus of neighborhood eateries throughout Naples, the chefs at Fresco Miami combine the traditional and modern as they assemble refined dishes using high-quality ingredients. Pastas, pizzas, and grilled entrees are speckled with familiar flavors such as buffalo mozzarella and imported Italian prosciutto, as well as imaginative adornments such as Maine lobster and edible microchips. Adhering to his own time-tested recipes, Alfredo Forgione and his handpicked team of chefs also churn out oven-crisped Neapolitan pizzas.
Fresco Miami’s décor, much like its cuisine, effortlessly blends contemporary and time-honored styles. The wall art's vibrant reds and purples stand in contrast to the dining room's hues of black, white, and brushed nickel. Outdoors, patio seating allows diners to enjoy their meals as they keep an eye out for the return of their favorite cloud.
Catharsis is as vibrant as its Calle Ocho neighborhood: whitewashed walls surround tables adorned with wild orchids and flickering candles, framing an inventive fusion of Latin and Italian cuisines. Grilled corvina and creative risotto dishes rank among the menu's star attractions, but the chefs might just as easily tickle palates with guava emulsions, cognac reductions, crunchy plantains, or tomato-mango pico de gallo. The dulcet sounds of Spanish musicians echo throughout Catharsis?s cavernous space, letting diners know when it's a good time to change into their Zorro costume.
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.
Owners Horacio Oliveria and Jennifer Porciello painstakingly plan every detail of their restaurant's decor, including the frescoes and dramatic arches, and their menu to give guests the impression that they've stumbled into a little corner of Italy. As musicians tap their feet on the hand-cut mosaic floors, servers float from table to table, delivering authentic Italian meals and housemade desserts.
Every centuries-old culinary tradition was a modern innovation at one point. This is the central philosophy of Italian-born chef and restaurateur Marco Stabile and executive chef Julian Baker, who embrace classic Tuscan cooking while incorporating contemporary techniques as well as occasional international flavors. However, this inventive spirit isn't intended to be a departure from Italian tradition. Instead, it is meant to showcase the role of Old World cuisine in a global context. The Miami Herald praised the eatery's revamped menu of Tuscan staples, claiming that, "every city ought to be lucky enough to have an Italian restaurant as solid as Toscana Divino." The chefs demonstrate their commitment to iconic Italian flavors in virtually every dish. In addition to importing extra virgin olive oil, organic buffalo ricotta cheese, and carnaroli rice directly from Italy, they also hand roll pastas and make their own gnocchi in-house. At the same time, they source everything from heirloom tomatoes and fresh herbs to micro greens and edible flowers from local Florida farms. The fusion of influences is most apparent in the menu's signature, Italian-inspired ceviche, which features calabrese chilies in place of jalapeños as well as a splash of olive oil to temper the lime-marinated shrimp's vibrant acidity. Cuisine is only one facet of Tuscany's regional culture, though, and Toscana Divino aims to showcase the area's artistic accomplishments in other media as well. Italian-made porcelain china and handmade Tuscan glassware appear on the tables' place settings and the dining room features a collection of luxury handbags crafted in Tuscany. These touches complement the restaurant's sleek, modern décor. Slate-gray tiled floors, simple wooden tables, and banquettes with geometric, block-like patterns help fill the space. The youthful spirit of the room also extends to Toscana Divino's ambiance at large, which Miami New Times described as, "consistently buzzing with an after-hours energy."