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