Macchialina Taverna Rustica is something of a stretch for the Pubbelly team of Jose Mendin, Sergio Navarro, and Andreas Schreiner. It stretches the perimeter of their little empire from the Sunset Harbour section of South Beach -- where Pubbelly, Pubbelly Sushi, and Barceloneta are all bundled on 20th Street -- to Eighth Street and Alton Road. The culinary focus on Asian- and Spanish-influenced small plates stretches to encompass rustic Italian food. And chef Michael Pirolo has been brought in, which stretches the trio to four (or five if you include general manager/partner Jennifer Chaefsky).
It's not, however, a stretch to say Macchialina trumpets the same attractive attributes as its sister venues: pleasing, well-priced fare, craft beers, and wines and an amiable neighborhood-restaurant vibe geared toward locals.
The 60-seat establishment, which occupies the former Sylvano restaurant space, has been refitted to reflect the Pubbelly blueprint for affable ambiance: Multiple chalkboards marked with specials hang on light-gray/beige brick walls, floors are the original wide-plank black wood, the ceiling is low, light bulbs covered in red plastic construction sheaths dangle above an eight-seat bar, and other red accents brighten banquette backs and chair cushions.
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Details are scrupulously attended to. This pertains not only to an alert service staff and GM Chaefsky's keen-eyed orchestration of the dining room (amazing what a difference an efficient and caring overseer can make), but also in less obvious ways. Music, normally an afterthought, is compiled according to a rotating nightly theme — Tuesday is hip-hop, for example. Happy-hour specials don't bring the usual pedestrian bar snacks for $5 each; a five-spot here scores a choice of any pizza and a pint of beer. Beers and wines are meticulously selected as well: Peroni is on tap, and bottled brews come from Scotland (oak-aged Innis & Gunn), Belgium (La Chouffe), the United States (Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA), and Italy (Birrificio le Baladin). The concise all-Italian wine list, categorized according to northern, central, and southern regions, is composed of mostly midrange bottles (starting at $36).
In short, Macchialina's mantra is: Do the right thing.