Best Restaurant in North Miami-Dade Miami 2013 - Alba Seaside Italian
17315 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160
Even though Miami is considered the "sixth borough" of New York City, it has a dearth of real, honest-to-goodness restaurants serving authentic Italian-American cuisine. We're talking red sauce, fresh clams, spicy sausage, and homemade pasta served by sassy guys who look like they could moonlight as Tony Soprano's foot soldiers. Alba's chef Ralph Pagano looks (and cooks) the part of a New York restaurateur, and the food — from the clams oreganata "Sheepshead Bay style" ($12) to the lobster francese ($34), taken from Pagano's grandfather Vinny D's recipe — makes you pine for the old country (the old country being, of course, Coney Island). Pagano also loves a party, so visit on WTF (Wine, Travel, Food) Thursday, when the affable toque will stuff you with whatever he's cooking and drinking for only $35. If you're feeling lucky, go for the Vinny D split, which gives you a chance to win your meal for free. As you dive into your bucatini carbonara, whose poached egg commingles with the pancetta and fresh pasta ($21), take a whiff of fresh sea air and close your eyes. Are you back in Sheepshead Bay or at a tony Sunny Isles Beach resort? As Pagano himself would probably say: "Just shut the f--k up and eat." So we do.