With summer rearing its big humid head, gelato is in order. Luckily, there isn't a lack of options, but there is one new place that quietly opened under the radar in Midtown. If you haven't heard of Latteria Italiana, it might be because it doesn't have signs and hasn't done any PR or advertising. It has been focusing on perfecting its product and building a loyal neighborhood clientele.
Located inside Shops at Wynwood (3301 NE First Ave., #101) right across the street from Bocce Bar, the artisanal eatery aims to give Miami a taste of Italy by way of imported products such as cheese, sweets, and jams, and handcrafted gelato, sandwiches, and pasta.
"We went with Midtown because it's an area of Miami that is booming and we felt there was an artisanal gelato shop missing," says owner Antonio Carrozza. "The idea is to bring the slow food Italian movement here."
In Italy, a latteria is a place not just to get ice cream and milk, but anything you need for lunch and dinner, as well as a convivial gathering place. "It's about a point of aggregation, a place to have good conversation, and stepping away from fast food."
The place itself is cozy, with tables made by Italian artists and textured wallpaper that resembles rustic mosaic tiles and a bit of American edge by way of concrete slabs. But the real focus here is the gelato, which is made daily at 5 a.m. Flavors alternate weekly (every Friday) with a few Italian standbys you can always get — think nocciola (hazelnut), chocolate, and stracciatella. During our visit, unexpected surprises such as pineapple and ginger, strawberry and lime (which Carrozza says has become a popular mainstay), guava, and the Mediterraneo (a blend of toasted almonds, hazelnut, pistachio, sesame, and black figs) were up for scoops. "People are loving that and the strawberry and lime, so they've become sort of our signature flavors."
Indeed, both of those are worthy of a 32-oz. "vaschette" (as it's called in Italy) to go ($22), or at the very least a cone ($5.50 for two flavors or $7.20 for three). Fruit and nuts is all you taste with each and every spoonful, which Carrozza attests to the fact that it's all he uses. "All our gelato is gluten-free and some is dairy free." He and his team work with seasonal fruits to make flavor combinations that are unique in their own right and also for Miami. For this week, that means coconut and curry in rosemary and Grand Marnier and stracciatella. "We got fancy."
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If you've had the pleasure of indulging in the Persian sundae at Fooq's (if you haven't, you must), you'll be pleasantly surprised to know the saffron and rosewater gelato portion comes from Latteria Italiana. And that's not the only collaboration in the works – with the soon to open health-focused Barry's right across the street, the Go Hard Gym has asked Carrozza to work on an all-protein based gelato with 50 percent less sugar. "The idea is that instead of a shake you have a gelato." We had a chance to sample it an can attest to it being a formidable substitute post-workout or just because.
In addition to churning gelato, Latteria Italian proffers a daily special made every morning. "It always runs out." Yesterday it was pasta di gragnano: alla amatriciana with diced mozarella di bufala. They've also got breakfast (things like homemade tiramisu and freshly baked croissants with jam or Nutella), and sandwiches and snacks served all day (cheeseboards, burrata, caprese, and sandwiches).
It will be changing the menu in a couple of weeks too, so if you haven't had a chance to, stop by.