By Laine Doss
By Ily Goyanes
By Camille Lamb
By Laine Doss
By David Minsky
By Emily Codik
By Zachary Fagenson
By Laine Doss
Despite all of the worthwhile fare to be found here, Con Tutto's dishes are not uniformly successful. The red sauce barely clinging to a pair of crêpelike spinach canneloni was insufficiently seasoned, and the same blandness blemished a side of Russian salad (potato salad with peas and carrots). "Cooking that lacks salt, lacks flavor," as Ms. Hazan wrote, and these words should be translated into Spanish and hung upon Con Tutto's kitchen walls. A side of french fries arrived as cold as that last comment.
The parillada was disastrous, as were other main course meats. Worst part is, it needn't have been so. Logs of hard wood provide a flavorful flame to cook with, and the fresh, red meats tossed upon the parilla, which we saw on our way out of the restaurant, appeared to be just fine. Problem is, we were served the totally desiccated meats that we had passed on our way in, and which had obviously been sitting on the grill since lunchtime (we dined around 8:00 p.m.). The blood sausage and mild chorizo that comprised half of the parillada managed to retain a faint memory of moisture, but sweetbreads were as chewy as jerky, and to say that the short ribs tasted like leather would be highly insulting to leather. That's all the parillada comes with at $14.99 for one person, not the best deal in town (though it's $22.99 for two, and if a trio shares it's $29.99, plus three kidneys are thrown in. Seriously).
Flank and skirt steaks are offered a la carte. We ordered the latter, and it managed to accomplish the impossible it made the short ribs seem almost juicy by comparison. A molecular dehydrating machine couldn't suck this much moisture from meat, and after some postdinner musing, I determined that it was the driest specimen of beef that I'd ever encountered in any restaurant or home and that includes my aunt Esther's brisket, which my uncle likes to say has killed more Jews than Hitler.
120 NE First St.
Miami, FL 33132
Region: Central Dade
Con Tutto Pizza A La Pala & Grill, 1380 SW 8th St., Miami; 305-858-0255. Open Tuesday through Thursday 2:00 to 11:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 2:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., and Sunday 2:00 to 11:00 p.m.
Were our poor meals a happenstance a matter of bad timing? Certainly, but food this bad making it out to the dining room represents a serious breach on all levels of the restaurant. What does it say for a cook who would serve such meats? What does it say for management, and quality control, or lack thereof? Even the waiter, who was cordial but did not provide especially noteworthy service, should have said to the cook "Hey, I can't serve this, put fresh food on the parilla!"
I returned to Con Tutto a few nights later and tried a flank steak. This time I was luckier it was recently grilled and medium rare as requested (without prompting, as on neither visit did the waiter ask at what doneness we wanted our meats). I'm not thrilled when I have to rely on timing and luck for an edible dinner, so I'll either stick to the pizza when I come here, or keep a close eye on the parilla if I order meats. But just as I surely will make it back to Soya & Pomodoro, I will return to Tutto, too.
Soya & Pomodoro, 120 NE 1st Street, Miami; 305-381-9511. Open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., for happy hour Friday 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Open for dinner Thursday only, 9:00 p.m. to 1 a.m. Con Tutto Pizza A La Pala & Grill, 1380 SW 8th St., Miami; 305-858-0255. Open Tuesday through Thursday 2:00 to 11:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 2:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., and Sunday 2:00 to 11:00 p.m.