Two years after opening, Via Emilia 9, a quaint Northern Italian-inspired eatery in South Beach, received a significant makeover. Now the restaurant features more than quality Italian eats. Find an open kitchen, a myriad of new Italian imports, an eat-in bar, and a pasta-making station.
"We had realized what worked and didn't work for us," owners Giancarlo “Wendy” Cacciatori and Valentina Imbrenda say. "A major part of Italian cooking is having everyone involved in the experience, like being able to smell the aromas coming out of the kitchen and seeing us hand-roll pasta and create sauce. We wanted to make the kitchen more accessible for both our servers and our guests," Cacciatori says.
When the two opened Via Emilia 9, they wanted to keep their focus on the cuisine, which is specific to Emilia Romagna, a northern region in Italy known for its rich gastronomy. As customers began to pour in, Cacciatori and Imbrenda finally had a chance to evaluate.
"Originally, the space had two separate storefronts connected by a single door," Cacciatori says. "The restaurant felt like two separate areas. We needed it to be more practical and efficient."
The addition of a window between the dining room and kitchen initiated a throng of renovations to follow. Though construction lasted only two weeks, the place could be mistaken for a completely new concept.
"The renovations and design elements have made Via Emilia 9 more inviting than ever. The restaurant's front floor-to-ceiling windows, updated furniture, a chalkboard wall, and exposed Edison bulbs make the space more cozy," he says. "We really want people to feel like they're being invited into a good friend's home."
The restaurant is known for its authentic Italian cooking, such as the tortellini in brodo — or tortellini in broth — and now diners can witness exactly how a plate is made. An open kitchen and a pasta-making station allow patrons to watch Via Emilia's chefs hand-roll and stuff tortellini with Parmesan cheese, mortadella, beef, or pork.
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“We want to involve our guests in the cooking process and not just the end result," Cacciatori says. "Being able to show people the process behind making food and being able to interact with their food is part of Italian tradition."
Though the look of Via Emilia 9 has transformed, its soul hasn't. Nearly all of its plates remain on the menu, including charcuterie boards, ravioli, tagliatelle, and flatbreads.
"In an ideal world, the space would have always flowed better," Cacciatori says, "but we wouldn't change anything about the process. We love seeing the surprise on loyal customers' faces who have been dining with us since we've opened."