Mediterranean Muddle

Ordered from the regular menu, an entree of vitello mare e terra (veal scaloppine dressed with red wine, onions, and several jumbo shrimp) was an exception to the mundane fare. This dish was both inspired and well prepared, the tender, pounded veal medallions complemented by -- not competing with -- the vibrant sauce. Even the shrimp, which can be shy in a red wine-spiked sauce, held their own.

Whatever its culinary shortcomings, Pasta Fiore became popular enough for the owners to expand to 55 seats several months ago. Clean and softly lighted, with green-and-white plaid curtains at the windows, textured walls painted in lemony tones, and sunny linens on the tables, it nonetheless lacks character. If I didn't already know, I'd have a hard time determining the ethnicity of the place. Perhaps the proprietors of Pasta Fiore feel obligated to serve Italian fare, given that Luccia Stilianudakis and Walter Rivas have Italian heritages. Maybe they offer it because the year-old restaurant occupies the former site of Botticelli Trattoria. But the Italian food here simply does not distinguish itself in a city where such stuff is quotidian, and where I can count the number of restaurants that serve truly wonderful Greek dishes on my pinkie.

Pasta Fiore
9705 S Dixie Hwy, South Miami; 305-665-3919. Lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. Dinner nightly from 5:30 till 10:00 p.m, Friday and Saturday till 11:30 p.m.

Saganaki
$5.95
Mozzarella dorata
$5.95
Moussaka
$10.95
Vitello mare y terra
$14.95
Baklava
$2.

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