There’s nothing like a ball of burrata with mozzarella skin stretched and wrapped around the buttery stracciatella (unfinished curd and heavy cream) that oozes milky juices when the pouch is cut open.
Find this and housemade mozzarella, ricotta, cow’s milk fior di latte mozzarella, knot-shaped nodini, scamorza (matured, stretched cheese marinated in whey and hung or “strangled” to dry) and afumicata (smoked mozzarella), all sold by the ounce or pound, at Mimmo’s Mozzarella in North Miami.
The shelves of the small, charming space carry pastas, sea salt, gnocchi, pasta sauces and arborio rice. In back, there is a huge kitchen, where the mozzarella is made daily in big vats using curds from New Jersey that come in blocks and are mixed with boiling water, then melted and stretched and rolled into balls.
Owner Bruno Ponce is from Buenos Aires but spent 20 years in Uruguay working as a baker. When he came to Miami Beach, he worked at Cafe Prima Pasta and helped open Sardinia, where he met Mimmo Marchittla from Puglia, who taught him to make mozzarella.
Ponce started making fresh mozzarella out of his house and selling it to Italian restaurants before opening Mimmo’s about eight months ago with partner Aliette Weill, whom he met surfing. She is Cuban American, grew up in Miami and teaches special-needs kids how to swim. They hired Lea Echeverria, who is Venezuelan, to run the front counter.
Have a cheese platter that comes on a wood board and includes all the forms of mozzarella they have, including rollatini (a sheet of mozzarella rolled up with mortadella, Parmesan and mixed greens) cut into slices, burrata infused with truffle and porcini, plus ricotta, slabs of cottage cheese drizzled in olive oil, roasted peppers, tomato slices, dates, a spoon of honey plus salumi of choice — perhaps proscuitto di Parma, sopressata or Genoa salami.
Salads include imported Italian canned tuna on greens with cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella; nodini knots skewered with toothpicks holding roasted red pepper bits or grape tomatoes; and greens topped with burratina (small burrata), Kalamata olives and roasted peppers.
The vegetarian panini comes on warm bread with artichokes, peppers, avocado and fresh mozzarella with hummus. Mimmo’s panini has prosciutto, housemade olive pate and mozzarella, while Brunito’s has bresaola (aged, air-dried, salted beef), olive pate, peppers, tomatoes and creamy stracciatella.
There’s also pasta salad of the day with pesto sauce, rustic pizza on house-baked flatbread (choose toppings from the deli case), Kalamata olive tapenade with crackers and a side of mozzarella. And for a sweet bite to accompany an espresso, there’s ricotta chocolate pie and panna cotta with homemade berry compote. It’s a milky wonder world at Mimmo’s.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.