In case you need a reason to eat Italian, there is now another Ni.Do Caffe on Biscayne Boulevard, with a somewhat different menu than the first one several miles south in MiMo.
The new space is charming and inviting with mismatched tables and chairs, ceramic wood floors, a small market selling organic and biodynamic wines, cheeses, salami, pastas (fresh and dried) and a bar plus an outdoor patio. On the menu is a selection of mozzarella, antipasti, salads, pizza, pasta, and grilled fish and meats.
A year ago the original Ni.Do was sold to Daian Escalante, a Venezuelan who manages that location, 7295 Biscayne Blvd. The new one, 11052 Biscayne Blvd., opened at the end of August with chef Claudio Sandri in charge of the kitchen.
Sandri is from Alba in Piemonte, where his grandfather was a baker and did most of the family cooking, inspiring Sandri at a young age to want to be a chef. He attended Giuseppina Colombatto culinary school in Torino to learn the basics, then worked at restaurants all around Italy and in France, England, Spain and Luxembourg; he is recognized as a master chef by the Italian Culinary Federation.
The United Nations contacted him through the federation, dispatching him to Honduras a year after Hurricane Mitch, when the country was rebuilding, to teach hotel chefs how to cook Italian food. He also opened a pizzeria in Tegucigalpa catering to relief aid workers.
Sandri came to Miami five years ago and worked at Mancini’s in Fort Lauderdale and then was hired at Ni.Do, which is from Niente Domani meaning “there is no tomorrow” — enjoy the present.
Up to four diners can share the antipasti tower with three levels anchored by prosciutto di Parma, soppressata (dry cured salami), speck (smoked prosciutto), salame cacciatorino (small dry aged salami) and Parma ham.
The second tier holds mild milky mozzarella fior di latte, a knotted purse of sweet cream-filled burrata and affumicata (firm, slightly sweet smoked mozzarella). The top tier has olives and Sicilian caponata made with red peppers, onions and capers.
Also from the mozzarella bar there’s burratina al tartufo (a little buttery burrata with truffle essence) and rich, bright, tangy Bufala Campana DOP. Besides cheese, starters include octopus carpaccio with arugula and endive; pumpkin soup with amaretti and rosemary; and lightly battered and fried calamari and zucchini (fritti).
There’s also lardo di Colonnata made from pork fatback in the village of Colonnata in Tuscany by layering the fat with salt and pepper and herbs and aging it six months in marble vats in caves. The silky, succulent, piggy-flavored, pure white fat is sliced thin and served with focaccia.
Pastas include sweet-savory fig ravioli in creamy gorgonzola sauce; large round ravioli filled with veal ossobuco sautéed in butter with sage served with a brush of fresh tomato sauce; and linguine al vongole with littleneck clams in white wine, garlic and parsley sauce with bottarga (salted, cured mullet roe).
There’s also grilled branzino in roasted red pepper sauce; ossobuco with saffron rice; and the 12-ounce Gaucho Ranch rib-eye steak.
Wines are listed by mood such as whimsical, esoteric and inspirational; they’re curated by general manager Luca Delogu, who is also a sommelier. Try the crispy-fruity Pecorari sauvignon blanc with honey notes under the sensuous heading. Limoncello and mascarpone cake is luscious and light, good with a limoncello nightcap.