First Bites

Alba: It's Ralph Pagano's World; We Just Eat In It (Photos)

Ralph Pagano is not exactly a wallflower. The chef, who can be heard regularly on the Paul and Young Ron Show on Big 105.9, has been on multiple television cooking shows, is an outspoken lover of the "ponies", and shows no shame in his love for a good mojito and a good time.

So when walking into Alba, his new endeavor at Sole on the Ocean resort in Sunny Isles Beach, I wasn't shocked at all to see an extra-large coffee table book of The Godfather serving as centerpiece at the chef's table, which (also unsurprising) was graced by a picture of Sophia Loren, Italy's most famous creation after the Sistine Chapel and pizza. That's Pagano creating his own world, like with the framed playing cards from casinos around the globe -- one card representing each country he's been to.

Read also:
- Ralph Pagano to Open Alba at Sole on the Ocean

"I'm not finished here." the chef/owner tells me. "I'm putting up some of my favorite sayings, like the one the Vatican said about not condoning cloning except in Sophia Loren's case, they may make an exception."

(Note: Google "Sophia Loren" and "The Vatican" and, indeed, you'll find that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State did say, "The church is opposed to cloning, but an exception might be made in the case of Sophia Loren.").

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss