If you're looking for classic Italian food in a homey setting, Strega Gastropub is a good choice. The recently opened North Beach eatery, which will celebrate its official grand opening January 27, concentrates solely on rustic cuisine from the Boot, and does it well.
Owned by chef Rosanna Torchia, Strega is located at 928 71st St. in the Normandy Isles neighborhood of Miami Beach.
Born in Venezuela, Torchia says opening her gastropub was a no-brainer. “I learned to cook from my nonna, who was Italian, so all I’ve known is how to make delicious homemade Italian food. This area has plenty of locals and tourists who have had Italian food, but not the good kind,” she says.
Although Torchia has been in the culinary business since she was 21 years old, it was her grandma’s recipes she turned to when it was time to open her restaurant. In fact, almost everything on the extensive menu, from the bolognese ($17.95) to the prosciutto e funghi ($14.75), comes from one of Nonna’s recipes. Some dishes, such as the zuppa del giorno ($9.75), come from family recipes that are more than 50 years old. “My grandma was a great cook, as I’m sure everyone says. But her food is nostalgic to me, and it’s something I wanted to share with our customers,” Even the restaurant's name is rooted in family. The word "strega" means "witch" in Italian, which Torchia says is something her dad would always playfully call her aunts.
Although she likes to keep the restaurant's dishes similar to those one might find in Italy, Torchia also wants to add a fresh twist. The chef also provides some exciting libations aside from wine. “The menu isn’t fussy, and as far as the drinks go, we wanted to revamp the standard Italian restaurant drink menu and offer organic cocktails.”
Strega also offers live music at least once a week with no cover, plus happy hour Monday through Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., featuring $5 appetizers, $2.50 draft beers, and half-priced house wine.
Strega is open Monday throughWednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from 4 to 11 p.m.