Doral Pizza’s team serves pies sized from 10 to 16 inches. Staffers bake pizzas topped with everything from gorgonzola alfredo to classic pepperoni, which is to pizza what butter is to toast and index-finger gesticulation are to being a politician. Their pasta roster catalogs such enticing entrees as pesto linguine and four-cheese penne.
Dubbed Miami's "Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurant" in 2002 by the Miami New Times, Bruschetta & Co. strives to serve traditional Italian edibles that are usually available only at upscale eateries and Donatella Versace's mini-bar. Culinary pathfinders can foray into boot-shaped fare with the funghi and carciofi bruschetta (lunch, $7.50/dinner, $7.95), swathed in still-beating artichoke hearts and oyster mushrooms, or the fritto misto ($10.95/$11.50), a trident's worth of flash-fried shrimp bathed in spicy marinara. Pizza protégés can pursue palate-pleasing pies such as the quattro formaggi ($10.95/$11.50), a pantheon of mozzarella, gorgonzola, fontina, and goat cheese. And intrepid desserteers can sample the bruschetta alla Nutella (pan-fried country bread, caramel, fresh fruit, and Nutella, $7.95), the most groundbreaking dessert since the Soviet Union's top-secret experiments with cotton-candy borscht.
While the heart of Johnny Carino's menu is rooted in genuine Italian traditions, forward-thinking creativity has birthed what they like to call their signature dishes. The menu was designed by executive chef Chris Peitersen, and each location executes it by blending fresh ingredients with extra time to create high-quality preparations. Diners will find entrees such as 16-layer lasagna with made-from-scratch sauce, and pizzas made with home-baked crust. Other signature choices include the all-natural beef tuscan ribeye, baked stuffed mushrooms topped with house lemon-basil cream sauce, and tiramisu made from the ground up. Entrees can be paired with any selection from Carino's extensive wine list and cocktail menu.
Pastazzi's culinary crackerjacks curate a menu replete with homemade twists on traditional Italian cuisine for noshers on the go. Diners design their own edible masterpieces from many possible combinations of handcrafted pastas and fresh sauces such as penne with bolognesa, cheese ravioli with pomodoro, and gnocchi with creamy alfredo ($7.85–$10.50). Flex jaw muscles like a contestant in the world’s-strongest-jaw competition before decimating the roasted eggplant lasagna ($8.95), or the salami and manchego-cheese panini ($8.25). Mollify insurgent sweet teeth with sugary selections such as the berry tartlet ($4.95) and tiramisu, the traditional italian cake made from lady fingers and espresso whose name translates as "tiramisu" ($4.50).
The chefs at Calamari Restaurant strive to create familiar, comforting Italian foods with house-made ingredients and ocean-fresh fish. With an emphasis on seafood dishes, they grill salmon fillets and stuff lobster ravioli that the Miami New Times placed 50th on its list of 100 Favorite Dishes in 2010, calling it "the entrée that will keep you coming back for more." They also strive to recreate homemade flavors by creating their own Italian sausages and pasta, and roast pizzas in a wood-burning brick oven within sight of the dining room.
In addition to an indoor dining room, outdoor tables with checkered cloths surround a garden fountain, "evoking a seaside picnic," according to a 2009 review in the Miami Herald.
Small wrought-iron chandeliers, pendant lamps, and track fixtures bathe Focaccia Bistro's rustic-modern interior in an amber glow, illuminating towering wooden wine racks stuffed with European vintages. Though the white-clothed tables carry elegantly plated dishes of risotto, shellfish pasta, and handmade ravioli, the bistro's decor extends beyond Italy, enticing passersby with full-length front windows that evoke the aura of a 1930s-era café. French-influenced brunch consisting of croissants and baguettes further enhances the café vibe, as does the beret-sporting ghost that haunts the restrooms.