Bite into neighborhood Italian at South Beach's Sylvano Ristorante Italiano

Sylvano Carrara is the charismatic owner of Sylvano Ristorante Italiano, tucked in a 1920s house in South Beach’s Collins Park neighborhood. He moved here about a year ago from Alton Road, bringing along his Genoa-trained chef, Alesandro Calabro, and loyal fans of his pastas, risottos, pizzas, panini and antipasti.

A onetime Argentine joint, the building was gutted and an extension was added as well as an outdoor patio with a hedge of live bamboo. There’s a horseshoe bar inside, with flat-screen TVs tuned to sports. A former boxer from Bergamo, north of Milano, Carrara started as a waiter when he was 18 and worked his way up to manager before going to New York 30 years ago. He had his own restaurant there, and came to Miami Beach a decade later.

At Sylvano, start with tender octopus carpaccio sliced paper-thin in lemon and olive oil with black olives and parsley or veal slices blanketed with tuna mixed with mayo and capers. Spinach salad with goat cheese and pine nuts makes a light lunch with crusty bread dipped in chile-infused olive oil. Bigger appetites can dig into ribbons of pappardelle with lamb ragu or black squid-ink linguine with crab in spicy tomato sauce.

Porcini risotto is earthy and creamy with plump grains of arborio rice and meaty chunks of fungi. Or get the fragrant version with saffron and shrimp. Entrees, served with seasonal veggies, include branzino (Mediterranean sea bass) with tomatoes, basil and olives, grilled lamb chops and chicken Milanese.

End with silky, scrumptious vanilla panna cotta with Amaretto.


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