The restaurant, which had been closed since May, reopened August 8 for dine-in customers, thanks to additional seating at a covered outdoor patio dubbed il giardino, or "the garden."
Macchialina partner Jennifer Chaefsky tells New Times the space came about when she had a conversation with her landlord.
"The building has always had a covered patio in the back that was part of a hostel," Chaefsky explains. "When we were struggling to pay rent because we weren't making money, we had a great dialogue with our landlord. He offered the space since the hostel can't operate during COVID-19."
Chaefsky was then tasked with transforming the patio.
"I rented a U-Haul, drove to Homestead, and brought back a jungle's worth of plants," she recounts. "Mike [chef Michael Pirolo] loves string lights because they remind him of Italy, so we strung some up. We turned it into a COVID-safe and beautiful space."
The outdoor patio seats about 35, with an additional 30 seats outdoors in the front — enough tables to make reopening Macchialina worth the effort.
Chaefsky says that while she was making the outdoor area fit for diners, her partners were busy, as well.
"Jacqueline [Pirolo] was making sure we were operating under the strict COVID guidelines we need to adhere to," Chaefsky says. "She's our COVID director. She's on it. I couldn't have asked for a better partner."
Meanwhile, Michael Pirolo was updating the menu.
"His food is the best. That's what made me fall in love with him," says Chaefsky, who's married to the talented chef. "Michael can't not cook. He has to do it. He has to come up with these soulful dishes."
The dinner menu will include creamy polenta with pork scaloppine and spicy broccoli ($15); grilled country bread ($2); gnocco fritto, a puffed bread from Emila-Romagna ($4); local burrata with heirloom tomatoes ($16); and broccolini al Cesare ($14) for appetizers.
Four varieties of Pirolo's pasta will be offered, including spaghetti pomodoro ($21); tagliatelle al funghi ($26); spaghetti con vongole ($27); and cavatelli with shallots, bacon, and cherry tomatoes ($24).
Entrées include pollo arrosto, an organic half chicken with garlic, lemon, and thyme ($29); veal Milanese ($35); and veal parmigiana ($40).
The dining room has been transformed into a wine shop, allowing patrons to take bottles home to enjoy.
Chaefsky says that even though the response has been welcoming, she still felt some nerves reopening.
"We've all been anxious these past few days. We're operating in a new world now," she admits. "You're wearing a mask to cook and serve. There are so many steps you have to take for safety."
Still, she says, it has been worth it.
"I think we're fighters. We know what it took to open Macchialina eight and a half years ago, and we have that fight in us still," Chaefsky says. "We trusted our abilities to reinvent this restaurant. In every disaster, something thrives. There's always a little flower growing through a crack in the sidewalk — and that's us."
Macchialina. 820 Alton Rd., Miami Beach; 305-534-2124; macchialina.com. Open daily 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations are required for dine-in service; takeout is also available.