Via Emilia 9 leads food path to Italy from Miami Beach

Via Emilia 9 photos by Linda Bladholm for the Miami Herald.

Worn stones between grass are all that remain of parts of Via Emilia 9, an old Roman roadway crossing the northern Italian plain. But this ancient route gives a new Miami Beach trattoria its name. 

The small entry space to Via Emilia 9, with a kitchen behind a counter, opens into a dining area with mismatched tables and chairs and old black-and-white TVs in the window. 

Chef Wendy Cacciatori, from Bologna, mans the stoves and has several restaurants in his hometown. He came to Miami as a consultant and met Francesco Prandini from Modena and Marco Ferri from Ferrara, and they partnered and opened their own place, focusing on Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region.

Start a meal with imported cured meats and cheeses on a board with fig marmalade. Tangy soft cream cheese called stracchino made from the fat-rich milk of cows brought down from the Alps in autumn centers a spread of hard salami, mortadella studded with pistachios, prosciutto, and coppa made from the cured neck and shoulder of a pig. 

To accompany the salume and cheeses such as gorgonzola and provola, there is a basket of cestino fritto (puffy fried bread) and small rolls. Thin, flat griddled bread called piadine is used for sandwiches (piadina) stuffed with meats and cheeses.

If you come before noon, you can see the fresh pasta being rolled out on a back table. Try passatelli, a small tubular pasta that is more like gnocchi made from a dough of bread crumbs, eggs and grated parmesan with nutmeg cooked in broth with a bit of truffle oil. Or try tortellini stuffed with pumpkin puree in sage butter drizzled in a balsamic reduction. 

There’s also traditional Bolognese lasagne with meat sauce and tagliatelle with sausage and mushrooms in cream sauce. Anyone who orders a meal can help themselves to a buffet of cold vegetables such as olive oil brushed and grilled slices of zucchini and eggplant, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and chopped, sautéed radicchio. 

Dolci include slices of buttery dark chocolate and cookie “salami” and mascarpone with chocolate bread.

Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.

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