By Linda Bladholm
The Jam Café is a small, cool breakfast and lunch spot on West Avenue. Open a month, it's near the "fancy" Publix, and since it's never a good idea to grocery shop on an empty stomach, folks in the neighborhood stop in for a sandwich, smoothie or salad first. (The light bites are available until 8 p.m. every day but Sunday.)
Sicily-born owner Salvatore "Salvo" Catania worked in London and the south of France before arriving in Miami in 1997, working the front of the house at several trendy Beach restaurants and learning the business inside and out. Marianna Trejo, a fellow Italian, answered his ad for the new café and plans to take the food in an organic direction eventually. Emphasis is on high-quality cured meats and cheeses and Medaglia Doro gourmet coffee.
The café is open for breakfast, serving scrambled egg sandwiches (with ham, cheese or smoked salmon) on a bagel, jumbo croissant or whole-wheat bread. Healthful eaters can get a whole-wheat tortilla wrap with egg whites and spinach. Other morning favorites include the 6-inch croissants or brioche with jam, blueberry muffins, coffees and teas. The bread is from Le Chic bakery and the bagels are from New York Bagels, both on the Beach. Wi-Fi, newspapers and gossip magazines are complimentary.
Salvos' philosophy is to take something simple and make it extraordinary. For example, the prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sandwich with basil pesto is elevated by the good ingredients and fresh bread (all sandwiches can be made on ciabatta, whole wheat or jumbo croissant). Vegetarians can get a wrap with romaine, fresh mozzarella, cucumbers and grilled eggplant marinated in extra-virgin olive oil or as a sandwich that adds roasted red peppers and pesto. The grilled chicken panini has the pesto and peppers plus melted fontina cheese. Fish lovers will like
the tuna-salad sandwich or smoked salmon sandwich with spinach and capers.
The best salad for meat eaters is the Lombarda, based on baby spinach greens tossed in red-wine vinaigrette with roasted red-pepper strips, Kalamata olives and red onions topped with slices of Italian salami and grated shavings of Grana Padano cheese. For veggies only, try the spinach salad with sun-dried tomatoes and hearts of palm in lemon-herb vinaigrette.
Gym rats come for the smoothies in flavors like muscle man (tropical fruit with peach and OJ) and passionate picante (banana, OJ, passion fruit nectar, apple juice, and crushed red pepper flakes), while, for indulgers, the giant croissant with Nutella (big enough to share) and the tiramisu are great sweet endings at this hip little hangout.
The Jam Café; 1935 West Ave., No. 102, Miami Beach; 305-538-5877; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon-Sat, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun; Breakfast sandwiches $4.95-$7.50, salads $6.45-$10.95, sandwiches and wraps $4.95-$9.25, smoothies $4.95.
FYI: Delivery in the neighborhood.
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Prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sandwich. Photo: Linda Bladholm