Before August 31, every Miami restaurateur was asking, "When will Phase One begin for me?" Now, with the reopening under way at 50 percent capacity, the question has become: "Who's ready?"
For Macchialina chef/owner Michael Pirolo, it's a question worth asking. And, luckily for hungry Miami diners who want a safe indoor dining experience, it's the inspiration for Macchialina's new private-table dining experience, which launches on Tuesday, September 29.
"Although the phase-one reopening is great news, that doesn't mean that everyone is ready for it," Pirolo tells New Times. "Rather than attempt to fit people inside comfortably, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to let guests experience something different."
Those who opt to dine indoors at Macchialina may do so — one table per night. For now, the restaurant is booking a single reservation for the dining room each evening, giving one party an opportunity to have the entire place to themselves.
Dubbed Bestia for its family-style format that focuses on whole fish, fowl, or meat, the culinary feast is carefully curated by Pirolo, who's excited to showcase the full range of his skills with each meal. While the chef has offered family-style menus in the past, he has never been able to do so in the large-format Bestia offers.
Bestia dinners serve four to twelve guests, and no menu substitutions are permitted. For now, Pirolo is working with two menus: one that features meat, the other seafood. Future menus will focus on pork, whole fowl, and prime rib.
Each meal begins with a full bread service by Macchialina's house baker, Alix Furjanic, who prepares naturally leavened focaccia, sourdough country loaf, and bread sticks served with a brown butter tomato spread. To accompany the bread, meat eaters can opt for charcuterie, while seafood fans get the chef's crudo, which changes daily based on availability.
For his first menu, Pirolo is offering a whole leg of lamb served on the bone. Slow-braised in its own juices and glazed with honey Calabrian chllis and balsamic vinegar, the lamb is served alongside a tomato rice; a medley of roasted carrots, fennel, cipollini onions; and a Bibb lettuce and avocado salad topped with lime and mint yogurt.
Those who select seafood get a whole, eight-pound snapper, which is marinated with thyme and lemon, then roasted till its skin crisps before being presented at the table with a warm Dijon mustard and chive vinaigrette. It's served with braised greens, a shaved fennel and herb salad, fregola pasta, and stuffed mussels parmigiano.
Pirolo foresees offering Bestia through the end of the year, or until sentiments change toward indoor dining.
"Right now, a high percentage of people just aren't comfortable with it yet," he says of eating indoors at a restaurant. "Most of our guests continue to choose outdoor seating."
Guests are still welcome to dine from the regular menu on the restaurants backyard patio, known as il Giardino, or at the sidewalk café space.
Bestia reservations must be made 48 hours in advance and require prepayment. Prices begin at $450 and are dependent on menu selection. Beverages may be purchased for an additional charge. To reserve, email info@macchialina with Bestia in the subject line. Include party size, preferred date, and dining time. The restaurant will respond with information on booking and menu options. Your seating can be reserved for 6:30 or 9 p.m.; other times may be negotiated upon request.
Macchialina Restaurant. 820 Alton Rd., Miami Beach; 305-534-2124; macchialina.com. Open nightly for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m.