Casale Pizzeria is the new, rustic, informal pizza/mozzarella bar/enoteca-type place next door to and owned by the Sardinia folks. Drove over there the other day and shared a lunch of margherita pie and "Argentinean chorizo with three beans salad". The latter was actually a cassoulet of warm, long-cooked beans and a mild chorizo sausage cut in thirds -- not great, and didn't come close to satisfying expectations of a "salad". Pizza was good, the sauce, cheese, and basil nicely proportioned atop the soft crust, the pies' flavors seductively smoky from the oven. Two items aren't enough to make any judgment call on the place -- as a fan of Sardinia, I'll give Casale the benefit of the doubt for now. But the parking situation here really ticked me off.
There is a small, bricked parking lot in front of Casale, with lines painted to denote spots. One car was parked inside, but plastic cones were put in place to block any other cars from entering. This is not an easy neighborhood to find parking in, but we did, placed coinage in the meter, and walked in the rain a block or so to the restaurant. Still, I was curious as to why the parking lot was closed. A hostess explained that eventually it was going to be converted into an outdoor dining section, and they didn't want people getting used to parking there. A car pulled into the lot and parked while we were chatting. "Whose car is that?" I asked. "The manager's," she replied. And the other car was the owner's.
Now I can understand why they might want to keep the lot closed -- maybe, for instance, to keep the ground in good shape for when they put the tables in. But it just seems so elitist to have the management be able to use the space, but make everyone else drive around and pay for parking when there are perfectly good spaces available right in front. The whole idea of opening a dining establishment is supposedly to cater to those who you are enticing to come as your paying guests. This parking rule sends a subtle statement that we, the customers, are of secondary status to the management. True or not, I don't think that's the right message for a restaurant owner -- especially one as savvy as Pietro Vardeu -- to send.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.