Offbeat Italian

 

Intimate, offbeat Italian delivers in North Miami, Virginia Gardens & North Miami Beach

Laurenzo's meatballs
Laurenzo's meatballs. Photo: Danny Brody
 

Mimi Whitefield

Intimate, offbeat Italian delivers in North Miami, Virginia Gardens & North Miami Beach...

 

  • Casa Mia is the kind of restaurant every neighborhood should have: service is personal, the atmosphere is cozy (think glowing pendant lights) and the food is first-rate. The menu features an ample selection of seafood, steak, veal and pastas. Start with rollatini - thin-sliced breaded eggplant rolled with ricotta cheese and spinach and topped with melted mozzarella and a drizzle of marinara sauce. Signature spaghetti Casa Mia arrives loaded with fresh tomatoes, black olives, capers and shrimp while ravioli di granchio is stuffed with crab and topped with a creamy lobster sauce with roasted peppers and basil. Indulge a sweet tooth with fagottino di mele -- apple dumpling -- a warm, flaky crust filled with fruit.
  • It's easy to breeze past Basilico on busy NW 36 St. It's flanked by a sub shop and salon in a nondescript shopping strip across from the airport. But, a lively scene hides behind its dark-tinted front windows. Attentive, but not obtrusive, staff promptly delivers a basket of crusty Italian bread while diners review the menu featuring seafood fettucine in lobster sauce, pear ravioli with figs in a marsala sauce and pollo ripieno -- thin-pounded chicken breast stuffed with ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. End the meal with a silk panna cotta plated in a puddle of strawberry sauce.
  • Best known as an Italian market and bakery, North Miami Beach landmark Laurenzo's has a restaurant tucked in the middle. Order a brick-oven pizza, pick up a sub from the deli or travel through the cafeteria line then take a seat a table covered with green or red-checkered cloth. Specialty subs use fresh mozzarella cheese, roasted peppers, ripe tomatoes and lots of basil and arrive slathered in oil and balsamic vinegar. Spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, eggplant Parmesan and thick Sicilian pizza are all stick-to-your ribs, mama-made fare. Save room for dessert and bite into a cannoli dipped in chocolate and studded with pistachios.

 

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