In Naples, Italy, visitors and locals alike flock to Via San Gregorio Armeno for its Old-World craftsmen. The street, better known as Christmas Alley or Nativity Alley, is filled with small shops and stalls, each offering meticulous hand-made nativity and restaurant scenes.
The same care goes into 'O Munaciello's pizzas. The restaurant, which recently opened at 6425 Biscayne Blvd. in Miami's MiMo District, is the second of its kind. The original, however, requires an overnight flight to reach. The first pizzeria is located in Florence, in an annex of the 17th-century Florentine Santo Spirito Basilica.
Though the Miami restaurant's location isn't quite so historic, every care was taken by owner Valentina Borgogni to re-create the feel of the Florentine original — including the import of figures from Naples' famed Christmas Alley. Diners will be greeted by the legendary Munaciello ("Little Monk"). This playful figure is said to pull pranks in Italy, but if you're nice, he can also grant you a wish. Make yours for a really good pizza.
The restaurant's master pizza chef, Carmine Candito, grew up working at his family's pizza shop in Naples. It shows in the care with which he makes his pies, emerging perfectly charred from the Italian pizza oven. The pies have the flavor of a truly authentic Neapolitan pizza, except with one difference that could be seen as an asset. Pizzas in Naples come with crisp edges but molten, almost soupy centers that cannot be easily eaten without a knife and fork; 'O Munaciello's pizzas are firmer, allowing you to use your hands.
There are nearly two dozen pizzas to choose from, including the Vesuvio, with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, black truffles, and burrata ($25), and a classic margherita ($15).
The most intriguing aspect of 'O Munaciello is its black pizzas, made with activated-charcoal-infused dough. The pizza arrives an eye-catching charcoal hue. The activated charcoal is said to aid digestion, reduce intestinal problems, and even treat hangovers. All pizzas can be made with traditional or black dough. The Maradona, topped with sausage and a dollop of burrata ($20), was given the black-dough treatment at dinner. The black crust imparts a smoky taste but doesn't overwhelm the other flavors.
The restaurant also offers several appetizers, including tuna tartare with avocado ($20), mussels with crushed black pepper ($12), and eggplant pie ($12).
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Pastas are prepared al dente and include homemade tagliatelle pomodorini with tomatoes, fried eggplant, and stracciatella cheese ($18) and cacio e pepe with red prawns ($24).
Save room for a cannoli ($16). And don't forget to make a wish with Munaciello before leaving.