Inside Macchialina: A First Peek

Pubbelly and its sister restaurants Pubbelly Sushi and Barceloneta Spanish Bistro & Mercat were game changers for the restaurant scene in Miami Beach. Gone was the wide breach between expensive dining and the grab-a-bite restaurants and cafés that lined Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive. Here was a series of restaurants that provided a good meal with quality ingredients at a reasonable price.

So we were excited when the original team behind the trio of successful restaurants -- Jose Mendin, Sergio Navarro, and Andreas Schreiner -- announced they would partner with Scarpetta's Michael Pirolo for Macchialina, a new Italian-inspired restaurant.

Macchialina is no doubt a departure from Pubbelly. Instead of adding a fourth restaurant in the little area behind South Beach's newer Publix, this latest establishment is on the corner of Eighth Street and Alton Road, the former home of Sylvano's restaurant. We stopped in yesterday for a peek and found chef/owner Michael Pirolo and general manager/owner Jennifer Chaefsky working on some final touches on the menu. The business team (and couple in real life) showed us around the intimate restaurant, which is scheduled to open May 6.

The décor matches the food. It's rustic and homey. Though the place isn't even open

yet, the black wood floors, slate-gray brick walls, and rich red

accents make you feel like you're walking into an old favorite

hangout. A large chalkboard over the banquettes welcomes you to the

restaurant. Red light fixtures, reminiscent of construction lighting, provide a warm glow.

Diners at the eight-seat bar will be able to snack on charcuterie and

freshly shucked oysters. Behind the bar is a little counter space where

guests can wait with a glass of wine for their table.

Pirolo and Chaefsky knew this was the spot when they found it. "We knew

we wanted to stay away from Ocean Drive, because we wanted Macchialina

to be a neighborhood spot," Pirolo explained. "Once we saw this space,

we fell in love with it. Look at these floors. They're a find."

Pirolo, much like a new dad, brought out photos of the dishes he's working on. "The food is meant to be shared. It's not tapas, because these

are not small plates. It's more family-style dining," Pirolo said as he showed shots of angliotti filled with veal, pork, and chicken,

homemade pasta with a giant veal meatball, and a pork shoulder. "We

debone the pork shoulder and serve it with the hoof on it. We'll see if

people get freaked out by the hoof. Maybe we'll put a disclaimer on it

-- hoof or no hoof. There are no bones in the actual meat, but the end

is like a chicken drumstick." There were lots of pictures of the food,

by the way, because Pirolo is hellbent on making the presentation as good as the flavor.

If you want to try some of the dishes at Macchialina, you

don't have to wait until May 6. Pirolo said he'll premiere a

few of the dishes at Pubbelly Tuesday, April 24, through Thursday,

April 26, and again the following Tuesday, May 1, through Thursday, May


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