Il Grissino

 

Unpretentious & affordable Italian earns 2.5 stars in the Gables

Il Grissino
Il Grissino ristorante owner Salvatore Domanti holds an "Il Grissino" pizza made with fresh arugula, vine ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and shaved parmesan cheese for $13.95 at Il Grissino ristorante in Coral Gables. Photo: Alexia Fodere.
 

Victoria Pesce Elliott

It seems a simple enough thing: a stick of bread. But for those who love the uniquely crunchy, salty, slightly oily batons that are handmade Italian breadsticks, it's worth knowing where you can find a good one. That would include Il Grissino, "the breadstick," a sleekly handsome, utterly friendly 70-seater on Coral Gables' restaurant row where old meets new in an unpretentious and affordable way. The Domanti and the DaPrato families, who also own a string of successful eateries in Caracas and Doral, prove they are no novices. Each well-trained server was pleasant, smiling, well turned out in crisp blue oxfords and khakis and well-versed on the compact menu. The fare ranges from simple and delicious pizzas that pop from the copper wood-burning oven to more refined fare, including capable grilled fish and meats.

Ambiance: The setting is a mix of rustic charm and modern simplicity with bronze-colored banquettes, buttery white leather chairs, soot-colored plank flooring and lots of light from the full-length windows along Giralda Avenue. The whole space glows from the jewel-like candles on each table, and a restrained soundtrack of Italian and Italian-American classics plays in the background.

What Worked

  • Light and evenly rolled branzino-stuffed ravioli with a creamy herb sauce
  • Paccherial ragu Montalcino, a Bolognese specialty of fat tubular pasta with deeply flavored beef ragu
  • Well-executed spaghetti with bright and tangy grouper and tomato
  • Delightfully, delicately handled & authentic monkfish Livornese, a pair of delicate fish fillets braised with tomatoes, capers, Kalamata olives and loads of rosemary and basil
  • Two-course lunch specials for $13
  • Mahi served in a tasty lemon sauce and plated with a confetti of freshly sautéed vegetables
  • A perfectly serviceable wine list with some well-suited chiantis and sangioveses as well as a nice sauvignon blanc

What Didn’t Work

  • A perfectly simple fileto dimanzo with slivers of filet mignon was not as tender as you would expect but is served over a fresh array of fingerling potatoes with ribbons of zucchini and a nice rosemary zing.
  • A clunky artichoke salad with arugula and celery skimpy on Parmesan cheese
  • Disappointing, warm and slimy octopus and potato salad
  • Disappointing chocolate souffle that’s really one of those ubiquitous chocolate molten cakes
  • Commercial profiteroles that wore a blanket of chocolate evocative of Hershey's syrup

 

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