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).
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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 osso bucco, 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.