The best neighborhood Italian restaurants offer good food, fresh pasta, reasonable prices, and a homey environment. Primo Trattoria Italiana in North Miami proffers all of these.
It boasts a hefty menu featuring pizza, pasta, and main courses. You might notice the teenage boy pictured on the menu. He's the son of chef and owner, Saverio "Primo" Macaluso.
During a recent visit, Macaluso's wife, Ulayana, was our server. The couple's love story is printed on the restaurant's website and takeout menu. He's from Sicily; she's from Ukraine. They met in Rome and eventually relocated to North Miami.
We began our meal with the polpette ($6.75). These homemade beef meatballs are served with pomodoro sauce and ricotta. They are moist and the sauce is laden with garlic.
The pasta dishes range from spaghetti al pomodoro ($6.95) to penne alla puttanesca ($10.95) and lasagna bolognese ($12.95). We opted for homemade pastas on this visit, so that left us with the choice of lasagna, ravioli, and gnocchi.
Gnocchi del giorno translates to "gnocchi of the day" and the pillowy soft potato pasta is made fresh daily. We ordered the gnocchi with porcini mushrooms. The waitress said customers can also request the gnocchi with a sauce of their choice, such as pesto.
The gnocchi were perfect: soft enough to sink your teeth into but firm enough to chew. The sauce was buttery and delicious. It was served extremely hot.
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While we waited for our food to cool down, we spotted a pasta maker in the corner. The restaurant has an open kitchen, but a woman sat in the main dining room making pasta. We were mesmerized.
With fresh food, friendly service, and affordable prices, Primo Trattoria Italiana is a great neighborhood Italian restaurant.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst