By David Minsky
By Jen Mangham
By Bill Wisser
By Laine Doss
By Bill Wisser
By Dana De Greff
By Laine Doss
By Zachary Fagenson
Bucatini all'Amatriciana boasted perfectly cooked strands of the tubular, spaghetti-like pasta. Sometimes this classic dish from Amatrice, Italy, is prepared with tomatoes, sometimes without. Here the noodles were soaked in a soup bowl of the house San Marzano sauce — this version heavy with garlic and Pecorino Romano cheese. Slivers of ham were threaded in, but there was no fatty guanciale (or pancetta) flavor to the sauce — nor the staple cracked red pepper flakes (or any spicy input).
Bucatini is one of V&A's "imported Italian" pasta picks; ricotta gnocchi comes from the "artesan house made" category. The petite knobs of tender gnocchi were bathed in a potent pesto and garnished with pine nuts and shavings of ricotta salata.
150 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Region: South Beach
One way to cheat the high pasta prices: Side dishes ("accessories") of gnocchi alla San Marzano and penne alla San Marzano go for $9.95 and are ideally portioned for a first or second course. Asparagus al forno, one of a few vegetable sides, brought beautifully cooked spears topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings, a prosciutto crisp, and a "soft boiled egg" that was medium-cooked — and thus robbed of its role to ooze luxurious yolk over the rest.
Three moderately sized, lightly sautéed scaloppine of veal satisfied in a tomato-tinted porcini sauce rich with the mushroom's earthy flavor. Rapini alongside was a tad salty, and Parmesan risotto was very salty (beverage sales here must be through the roof). Though the grains weren't overcooked, the rice arrived in a dense, pea (and garlic)-studded clump.
Yellowtail snapper Francese, one of four seafood entrées, is plated with the same accompaniments.
An extensive bottle list lingers on Chiantis, super Tuscans, Pinot Grigios, and "classic" Italian wines (the reds categorized into five regions: Barbaresco and Barolo from Piedmont, Amarone from Venice, Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany, and so forth). You can find a $479 Sassicaia super Tuscan from Tenuta San Guido, as well as a number of wines for $40 or less.
A dozen whites and a few dozen reds are offered by the sampler-friendly quartino, which equals one-and-a-half glasses. Most are $11 to $18.
Many Italian dessert favorites — brandy-spiked tiramisu, cannolis, fried zeppole, ricotta cheesecake — are onboard and prepared fresh in-house. You can't go wrong with the giant chocolate cake ($18 and large enough for four to share), but vanilla Venetian cake was the apex of our meal — both in terms of taste and tallness. The wallop of a wedge of sponge cake is layered with vanilla custard and iced on top and sides with bronzed Italian meringue, à la baked Alaska. It provided a luscious finish, and better yet, it wasn't overloaded with garlic and salt.