Forget about all of the fancy Italian restaurants on South
Beach with their monster-sized Kobe beef meatballs and overpriced wine. At
Mattarello Bakery, a hole-in-the wall on Washington Avenue, the focaccia is
baked on-site fresh daily, the pasta is toothsome and tasty and the pastries
are sinfully delicious. Mattarello Bakery mimics a typical neighborhood Italian
trattoria with zero pretention. It's the real deal; evidenced by the
Italian-speaking clientele, espresso so strong it will grow hair on your chest
and regional Tuscan specialties like porchetta (slow-roasted pork shoulder) and
cacciucco (seafood stew).
Opened in June 2008 by friends Antonio Martucci and Max Guerri, this
hidden spot serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Mornings are
all about steaming cups of cappuccino and espresso (they brew San Giorgio
coffee from Italy), flaky pastries and eggs. In the afternoon, diners at the tiny
16-seat eatery clamor for focaccia sandwiches (everything from mortadella and
mozzarella to salami and brie), pizza, panzanella salad and cannolis. There are also
roasted yellow and red peppers bathed in garlic and olive oil, penne with
shrimp in a vodka sauce, eggplant parm and baked meatballs.
While the charming Martucci handles the front of house operations, the
kitchen is the domain of Guerri, who hails from Florence and has worked at
Escopazzo, Mezzaluna and as a private chef. In his rustic kitchen, Guerri cranks
out Tuscan specialties several days a week. On Sundays, there is porchetta,
which is pork shoulder marinated in rosemary, garlic and sage and slow-cooked
for six hours. Cacciucco, a typical seafood stew, is prepared on Fridays with
mussels, clams, calamari, conch and scallops in a hearty tomato broth.
The centerpiece of the kitchen is a beast of an oven, circa
the 1950s, which looks like more of a museum piece than anything else. This is
where the focaccia, pastries and pizza are baked daily. For those with a sweet
tooth, the piece de resistance is Guerri's homemade millefoglie, which is a
Napoleon-like cake with layers of pastry cream and chocolate chunks. There are
also powdered donuts filled with cream or chocolate to dunk in your cappuccino.
Outdoor seating is coming in April, and they also deliver locally. For the
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quality of the food, the prices are wallet-friendly with pastas for $7, pizza
$4 a slice and the porchetta for $10. There's also a Monday night Happy Hour
from 7 to 10 with affordable food and drink specials. Buon Apettito!
1450 Washington Ave, Miami Beach