Francheso Pradini and chef Giancarlo "Wendy" Cacciatori provide a small peek into the cuisines of Bologna and Modena at their South Beach restaurant, Via Emilia. The name reflects their idea of establishing a non-Americanized Italian restaurant in Miami. When asked what makes them different from all other Northern Italian restaurants, Pradini says, "We have taken a little chunk of a corner street in Italy and placed it here. We did not compromise to make it Italian American."
Italy's Via Emilia linked newly conquered territories such as Bologna, Modena, Reggio Emillia, and Parma to Ancient Rome. The SoBe eatery features authentic cuisines from all these places. Bologna is renowned for ragu and Bolognese sauces. Modena's contributions to the Italian pasta culture include tortellini, squares of pasta shaped in the form of a ring and stuffed with meat or cheese. Modena is also known for its balsamic vinegar.
The idea of starting with cured pork such as prosciutto, mortadella, and salami is a key signature of this restaurant. The Basket from the Mountain ($27) comes with prosciutto, mortadella, pancetta, parmiagiano, and Nutella, whereas the Basket from the Valley ($29) comes with fried dough, prosciutto, mortadella, stracchino cheese, and marmalades.
Tagliatelle with ragù ($18.50), lasagna alla Bolognese ($18) and tortellini or passatelli ($24.90) served in broth are just some of the pastas offered. Keeping in the tradition of Bologna, chef Wendy prepares his pasta daily, serves a pork-based ragu, and has italian bread shipped in from the Vassalli Bakery in Bologna. His dishes are kept simple, relying only on the actual flavors of the food with no gimmicks.
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Via Emilia opened just a month or so ago and for a limited time, the order of any meal comes with a free glass of red or white wine. Parties of four people or more will receive a free bottle of wine.