Sit down in La Gazzetta and you'll be welcomed with a monthly newspaper -- or actually a menu. The modern Italian restaurant, which quietly opened three months ago in Mary Brickell Village where El Vato used to be, boasts an outdoor terrace and a large indoor space occupied by booths, high tops, and a projector screen showing old Hollywood films.
The menu shares its pages with restaurant news, paparazzi pages, and classifieds for happenings during the month. Short Order was invited to taste La Gazzetta's offerings. Read all about it after the jump (get it?).
Owner Stephan Fortier (Tosca and Maison d'Azure) has taken La Gazzetta down a notch price-wise. The most expensive pasta at La Gazzetta -- homemade linguine with black truffles and parmesan-mascarpone cream sauce -- will set you back $19 (for a six-ounce serving). At Tosca, this dish was priced at $60.
The menu is extensive, with salumeria, salads, carpaccios, tartars, ceviches, and other appetizers like grilled octopus, meatballs, and whole artichokes to starts off your meal. From there, diners can go with a pizzette, pasta, or an entrée from either land or sea. Prices range from $5 for salumi to upwards of $29 for a one-pound whole branzino. A $10 power lunch served Monday - Friday gets you half a panini with a choice of soup or salad, while happy hour (also Monday - Friday) from 5 to 8 p.m. gets you salumi, mini pizzettes, crostinis and a variety of martinis, wines and well drinks for just $5. Considering that the weather is starting to cool, grabbing a seat on La Gazzetta's terrace during these hours might be a good move for those working in Brickell and looking to unwind after a day's worth of work.
As far as foodstuff, we started out with a salumeria board consisting of prosciutto di parma Pio Tosini (which has been aged for 24 months), ripe Campari vine tomatoes with pesto and homemade mozzarella and burrata. Salumeria is priced by the piece, with mozzarella at $4, burrata at $5, and Pio Tosini at $8. I would have liked the burrata to be a bit gooier.
An appetizer trio combined the grilled octopus, escolar carpaccio and spicy ahi tuna tartare together in one. While this isn't an offering on the regular menu, you can opt for the octopus with red wine vinegar, black olives, and cilantro for $11, the escolar carpaccio with yuzu and pecan puree for $13, or the spicy ahi tuna tartare with avocado and chili oil for $15.
Mini pizzettes were perhaps the highlight of our dinner. These miniature interpretations from the gourmet personal size pie offerings gave us a taste of two very different flavors. The ahi tuna sashimi with wasabi mayo, candied ginger and cilantro (regular size priced at $14) makes for a light and delicious choice for any meal period. For something a bit more filling and heftier, the Asian barbecue pulled pork with sour cream, pickled shallots and cilantro takes care of that for you ($12 for a personal size pie).
When it comes to pasta, we tried the dish that carried over from Tosca -- a homemade linguine with black truffles and parmesan-mascarpone cream sauce. It was heavy on the cheese and truffles, which is exactly what any lover of cheese might want. My personal preference for red sauce might prompt me to head over to Scarpetta instead where I for an extra $5 I can get the best bowl of pasta in Miami. One thing to note about La Gazzetta's pasta offerings is that they serve four-ounce ($15 for the truffle linguine) and six-ounce portions ($19 for the truffle linguine).
An entrée sampler allowed us to taste the butterscotch miso salmon with quinoa, Cajun-spiced chicken breast with truffle fries and filet mignon with gorgonzola and a baby arugula salad with white truffle vinaigrette. Other entrees include seared champagne scallops ($21), saffron steamed mussels ($16), and classic steak frites ($25).
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Dessert gave the pizzette's a run for their money and flavor. Served in mini mason jars, all are meant for sharing and priced at $5 (except for one priced at $7). We tried the dulce de leche crème brulee and the aged Valrhona dark chocolate mousse with hazelnut pearls. For an extra two dollars, the Valrhona chocolate with hazelnut pearls is where it's at.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha