A restaurant with roots in Florence, Italy, will open its first U.S. outpost early next year, and its owner has chosen Miami's MiMo District to debut the stateside iteration.
The restaurant is known as 'O Munaciello, a well-known and longstanding pizzeria built in an annex of the 17th-century Florentine Santo Spirito Basilica. When it opens in early 2017 at 6425 Biscayne Blvd., expect authentic cuisine from Italy's Campania region, and some real-deal Neapolitan pizza.
According to Valentina Borgogni, who owns and operates the Florence and Miami restaurants, 'O Munaciello Miami is designed to transport guests directly to Italy.
"Even the plates, chairs, and tables were handmade and imported," says Borgogni, who re-created the vaulted brick ceilings of the original restaurant for her stateside outpost. "Every corner of the restaurant has been carefully curated to give the true essence of the warmth of southern Italian culture."
If the restaurant's dining room doesn't spirit you off to Italy, the food will. Borgogni says the chefs have been tasked with re-creating traditional Neapolitan dishes for an American audience. The restaurant/pizzeria plans to use local produce and fine imported meats and cheeses — as well as a made-to-measure handmade brick oven, imported from Naples — to create dishes its founder says can't be found anywhere else in South Florida.
To do so, Borgogni has enlisted the help of an Italian chef with an extensive background working for some of Italy's most respected regional eateries. Originally from Genoa, 'O Munaciello executive chef Elia Cui has cooked for the likes of billionaire Porto Cervo to Milan's Byblos, Florence's Pizzeria ZeroZero and Ristorante IX, and Pisa's Villa Lena.
The Miami menu will mirror the Florence restaurant’s seasonal menu, an array of signature dishes rife with Neapolitan influence. That includes agnolotti served over creamy potatoes and smoked Buffalo cheese or a seafood scialatiello, a pasta platter for two prepared with clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari, and Piennolo cherry tomatoes.
The restaurant even has its own master pizza chef, Carmine Candito, who hails from a long line of Neapolitan restaurateurs and pizza makers. He grew up working at his father’s popular Naples restaurant, Un Posto Al Sole, and later became the pizza maker for two respected restaurants in the region, including 'O Munaciello.
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Expect several specialty pizzas from Candito, including some with an innovative twist like the tonno (fresh tuna, mozzarella, and cherry tomatoes), the ricotta e salamino piccante (ricotta cheese, spicy salami, mozzarella, and tomato sauce), the cornicione di ricotta (tomato sauce, mozzarella, and a ricotta cheese- stuffed crust), and the melanzane e salsiccia (eggplant and sausage). There will also be several different types of calzones and focaccia.
In keeping with its mission to honor its heritage, 'O Munaciello will also offer a large selection of authentic Italian desserts such as pastiera, a traditional cake from Naples made with ricotta cheese; rum baba, a trio of rum cakes soaked in rum syrup; and caprese, a chocolate soufflé with a warm fondant center, served with pistachio ice cream.
"We chose to open our first-ever outpost in Miami because the warm culture and climate are similar to Naples, Italy," Borgogni says. "I wanted to bring the genuine customs and culture of Naples to Miami."