Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Eat It - Cafe Prima Pasta, 414 71st Street, Miami Beach, FL 305-867-0106

www.primapasta.com

I just had dinner there with my parents last night, and I can't believe I haven't written a review yet. Prima Pasta is well-known among Miami Beachers, and for good reason. The service and food are excellent, with an eclectic mix of Latin waiters and waitresses hustling around with smiles and epitomizing professionalism. If you put in your time and become a regular, you can look forward to even better service and a fuss made over you by the family who owns it, the lovely Ceas (pronounced "che-a" as they are the not unusual Italo-Argentines). Gerry (Gerardo) is then likely to force a Sambuca down your throat.

We basically order the same thing every time we eat there. We start with a tricolore salad and follow that with the best chicken parmesan you will ever find. Seriously. It's perfect. The piccata is also excellent.

I guess the one drawback is that Prima Pasta is located on 71st Street, but I work on 71st Street, so it's not so bad for me. It's always easy to park (there's a lot and street parking available all around the neighborhood), but there is the minor detail of the halfway houses around the corner. There's more crime on South Beach than around here actually, but this neighborhood is most certainly less glamorous.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

SoBeWiFoFe

It starts tomorrow, all you gastronomic, epicurean, wine-loving, gourmet oenophiles. I think it's great that there are all of these celebrity chefs. I mean, why not? People are famous for being famous, snowboarding and streaking major sporting events. Check out the event website -

www.sobewineandfoodfest.com/2008/

Friday, February 8, 2008

Eat It Alert!

So my brother is on his way back from the tailor in Surfside, and he says to himself, he says "I think I'll head over to Bianca's to grab a BBQ Steak Ciabatta". Upon arriving at our favorite Surfside sandwicherie, he is dismayed to find something called Piri Piri in its place. "WHAAAAAAAAAAT?" he says. He calls up his older brother, despondent. His brother reassures him that "there are other places that serve sandwiches". But he knows they're not the same. How could they be? A shadow of his former self, he manages the mile and a half drive back to the office and meekly presses the up arrow on the elevator. To the 4th floor. Lunchless.

Older brother looks up Bianca's number on Eat It, Miami. "What a great site", he thinks to himself. He calls the number, and when someone answers the phone "Piri Piri Cafe?", like he's asking a question, older brother (not big brother, since my little brother is bigger than I am) demands to know in plain language "No offense, but what happened to Bianca's?". The silence is deafening. From the other end of the phone, a pause, a deep breath....

"We're still here. We just changed our name."

Phew.

Bianca's Gourmet Shop is now Piri Piri Cafe.
http://pirigood.com

Monday, February 4, 2008

Eat It - Rosa Mexicano, 900 South Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 786-425-1001

rosamexicano.info/servlet/locations/atmarybrickellvillageMia

Why is it called Rosa "Mexicano", you ask? I don't know. Maybe it's like the square root of a million, and no one will ever know. Probably a good marketing move, since people are always talking about it.

If you've been to New York, you've likely heard of Rosa Mexicano, known for its upscale Mexican cuisine and great guacamole. It's a favorite in my family and we were all excited to learn that a new location opened here in Miami.

I was a little surprised to find that we couldn't get a reservation until 1015 on Saturday, but I was happy to hear they were doing so well. The restaurant is located in a part of Miami that is trying so hard to be a hub of nightlife. I love the change of scenery, so I hope the Cocowalk-like shopping center in which it sits will thrive along with the surrounding neighborhood. The few lights that were on in all of those brand-new skyscrapers were not as encouraging as the full restaurant.

So, we ordered the famous guacamole that is prepared table-side. It was quite delicious. No surprise there. Most of us ordered some sort of margarita to drink. Sarah's choice was the most exotic and had cinammony sugar on the rim, rather than the traditional salt. I knew, thanks to my father, that the only way to order the aforementioned libation is "straight up". That way your drink doesn't get watery as you sip it. If you're more of a drink "pounder", this might not matter to you, but keep it in mind the next time you have a hankering for a margarita.

We got some food recommendations from our friendly waiter, and everything he suggested was excellent. The pulled duck appetizer, zarape de pato, was wonderful, as were the empanadas de jaiba. Everybody likes empanadas, and these had crab meat in them. Case closed.

Kim chose the enchiladitas de pollo, probably because they sounded cute, but failed to finish reading the description, which included "mole de Xico". The word is pronounced "mow-lay" for all you gringos our there who can't keep your vowels nice and short. Please just don't say it like that around me.

Everyone who tasted the mole enchiladas agreed when I remarked that it smelled a lot like dog food as a forkful approached my expectant mouth. That sounds slightly sexual. Sorry about that. Oh, Sarah thought it smelled like horse feed. So, we all agreed that it smelled/tasted like something other than people food. And it was ordered by accident. Not a good showing for what I had earlier called Rosa Mexicano's "classic dish". Oops.

My main course was enchiladas suizas, which were only slightly better than chicken enchiladas in green sauce would be at any tex-mex restaurant around, like Rancho Grande, which I love by the way. The main course was good, but not great. We found the service trailed off soon after our appetizers arrived. It took way too long for our second drinks to arrive.

Over all, I would say that you go to Rosa Mexicano for a fun night out in a neighborhood that is coming around. It's not the best restaurant and the service is neither good nor particularly bad, which in Miami I think I have to say means it's got good service. It didn't feel like we were ripped off, like you would if you'd just been mugged at Barton G, but we didn't leave with the euphoria that one experiences after an unexpected transcendent meal. I'll go back.

Incidentally, does anyone know if one can get Montezuma's revenge here in the U.S.? No reason in particular. I was just, you know, wondering.

*Many thanks to reader, Alex, who enlightened us to the fact that "rosa" is a color and takes the masculine article "el". I am surprised to learn this since there's another word for pink in Spanish, "rosada".