Linguine negro con frutti di mareEXPAND
Linguine negro con frutti di mare
Courtesy of Red Carpet Restaurant

Calle Ocho's Red Carpet Offers Affordable Italian Fare

Embedded in Little Havana's vibrant community, Red Carpet ticks off all the right boxes for a charming Italian meal.

For the past three years, brothers Jorge and Alfredo Nieto, who hail from Venezuela, have operated this intimate neighborhood restaurant specializing in top-notch fare, service, and ambiance.

A former journalist, Jorge says that after what seemed like an endless series of corporate jobs, he and his family realized owning a business together would make them happiest.

At Red Carpet, the kitchen is helmed by the brothers' cousin Jhonattan Tovar and self-taught chef Albeneo Amaya, a native of El Salvador who previously worked at Miami Beach's Café Prima Pasta. Since the restaurant's debut, some regulars stop in for meals as often as three times a week, Jorge says.

For first-timers, slow your pace to the sounds of classic jazz and tango and begin with the carpaccio di salmone ($9.95) or pulpo alla campagniola — grilled octopus served with sausage and white truffle oil in a white cream sauce ($14.95).

Find three kinds of ravioli, including pumpkin in marsala sauce with honey and rosemary ($15.95); a crabmeat version in a lobster-based sauce ($16.95); and the ossobucco, topped with saffron sauce, white truffle oil, and tomato ($18.95). Other house-made pasta dishes include gnocchi all'amatriciana ($13.95) and linguine frutti di mare ($19.95) — fresh black linguine infused with squid ink and tossed with seafood and tomato sauce.

Two tributes to the local Cuban community are house favorites: pollo al mojito, in which chicken is sautéed with white rum, fresh mint, and herbs ($16.95), and risotto al mojito, with white rum, mint, lemon, and sautéed shrimp ($21.95).

End your visit with a dessert by Elida Garcia, the Nieto family matriarch. Try the panna cotta drizzled in a guava glaze. Profiteroles and ricotta and pistachio cake are also available.

Red Carpet. 3438 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-529-4220; redcarpetrestaurant.com.

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