BEST GOURMET GROCERY Miami 2005 - Laurenzo's Italian Market
North Miami Beach
305-945-6381 This cavernous Italian market is so respected a Miami institution and such a great place to shop that it's not a matter of whether or not it receives a Best Of, but in which category. Best wine selection? The wide array of Italian bottles and a plethora of bargains make it a perennial contender. Best prepared foods? Lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, meatballs, manicotti -- fuhgeddaboutit. Fresh baked breads? An enormous bakery section produces some of the area's finest rustic breads, including an addictive semolina loaf, Italian desserts like creamy cannolis or crunchy amaretti, and old-fashioned Italian ices; you can also grab a flawless espresso here. The deli boasts an astonishing array of antipasti, smoked fish, cold cuts, and homemade sausages with names like Sopranos characters (in this week's episode, Frankie Soppressata offs Vinnie "Crazy Legs" Capicola) -- and a mean veal parmigiana sandwich too. The market shelves are stocked with innumerable olive oils, canned tomatoes, and pastas (dry and fresh); the cheese department is topnotch; and there are more gourmet Italian goods to be found here than are available in many of that country's own towns. Best fish market? Best butcher? Why not? Laurenzo's "farmer's market" produce section could even compete in Best U-pick category. What criteria did we use in choosing Laurenzo's as best gourmet grocery this year? All of the above.