Unpretentious & affordable Italian earns 2.5 stars in the Gables
127 Giralda Ave, Coral Gables
Hours: Monday-Thursday, noon-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, until 10 p.m. Sunday
Prices: Antipasti $8-$14, salads, $9-$13, entrees $18-$31, pizzas and pastas $11-$16, Desserts $7-$8.
FYI: Happy hour with free pizza 5-7 p.m. weeknights; executive lunch special for $13 weekdays. Corkage $25.
Plentiful metered street parking; $8 valet available. AX, DN, DS, MC, VS.
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.
- 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
- 3 stars for Touche's expert execution of Italian-American favorites
- 3.5 stars for rock-solid Oolite in Miami Beach
- 3 stars for Prime Fish's South Beach swagger
- 3.5 stars for The Forge's next generation of excellence in Miami Beach
- 3 stars for Taperia Raca's fresh take on classic tapas in Miami
- 3 stars for Basil Park's nourishing and satisfying intact cuisine
- 3.5 stars for unorthodox Josh's Deli in Surfside
- 3 stars for Orange Blossom, a Miami Beach restaurant on the right track
- 3 stars for seriously good Shikany in Wynwood
- 2 stars for Kush gastropub in Wynwood