The goods: Espanola Way isn’t exactly where one would expect to find a quiet neighborhood spot, but Fiamma Gastronomia is just such a place. The owner, Claudio Console, hails from Bari, Italy, and worked in furniture design before opening this casual trattoria. The Italian vibe is strong, from the soccer matches on the flat screen to the accents emanating from the semi-open kitchen.
Ambience: The place feels like the crisp, modern café of an art museum. A handful of whitewashed tables and chairs fill the space, and shelves of imported pasta, olive oil and sauces (all for sale) line the walls. A small bar is perfect for sipping an espresso before heading back to the beach.
The grub: Regional Italian. The menu is extensive and most of it is familiar – eggplant parm, chicken Milanese – but some standouts merit repeat visits. Prices are surprisingly low for South Beach – most pastas are $9, while fish and chicken dishes don’t top $13. For now there is no wine or liquor but you are welcome to bring your own – another affordable touch.
Start off with pear and Gorgonzola salad or a platter of antipasti piled with prosciutto and mortadella. The pesto is made in-house and tops imported pasta like fusilli, penne and orecchiette. The Octopus alla Luciana bathes the seafood in a stew of tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Other fish dishes include a lightly breaded snapper Impanato and a mahi mahi alla Mugnaia, sautéed with lemon and butter. Desserts include tiramisu, chocolate soufflé and Torta della Nonna, a Tuscan cheese cake.
The verdict: Reliable, traditional Italian cooking in a casual South Beach space.