Now that we’re in the dead of winter, Joanne and I try to escape to warmer places as often as we can.
And while Minnesotans – and most Midwestern snowbirds – flee to the Gulf side of Florida (particularly Naples; not sure why), we like the vitality and the energy of the East Coast….particularly Miami Beach, where my toned physique and international savoir faire fit right in. It also helps that we share ownership in a South Beach high-rise condo with our son, Steven.
So for several of my upcoming posts, I’ll be sharing some of our favorite places in the Miami area. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Joe’s Stone Crab, an iconic powerhouse in America’s restaurant world. If you haven’t read it, check out the post, because even if you never plan on going to Miami, it’s one of those places every foodie needs to know about.
But today I’m going to tell you about something much more modest, but a real “find”…….
FRATELLI la BUFALA……
The restaurant was started by three brothers – Guiseppe, Antonio, and Gennaro from Salerno, near Naples, Italy – after they inherited a thriving mozzarella business from their father.
Oddly enough their first venture into the restaurant business was in Tokyo, not Naples, Salerno or Sorrento. But shortly thereafter, they returned home to establish what has become the gold standard of Neapolitan Pizza throughout Italy as well as other world capitals. The brothers opened in Miami Beach around 2005 at the corner of 5th and Washington, the part of South Beach that is not insane.
Joanne and I have been going there for years. It fits nicely with our late afternoon arrivals in Miami because on that travel day we don’t really want to make dinner an event. Instead of being challenged by culinary wizardry, we’d rather be sated by really good, simple food and a bottle of wine.
FRATELLI la BUFALA’s offerings aren’t just good and simple, they’re also “clean” – no hydrogenated fats, glutamates or GMOs…..just southern Italian peasant food power-packed with flavor.
There are two “lead dogs” on the menu….WOOD FIRED PIZZAS and HOUSEMADE BUFFALO MOZZARELLA.
Pair those two things with an impressive array of antipasti, pastas, salads and desserts, and you’re in for a very, very comforting night. Oh, yes, and a bottle of Fiano di Avelino, from the town of Avelino (Jay Leno’s ancestral home), close to Naples.
On our most recent visit, we ate outside on a balmy Miami night. Joanne had a Nicoise salad prepared the correct Italian way, with canned tuna packed in olive oil, while I pigged out with an order of eggplant parmigiana and a side of meatballs. (I occasionally love wretched excess).
The restaurant is not expensive for what they deliver. If you stick with pizza, it’s actually budget dining. Indulge in an array of mozzarellas and some wine, and you’re looking at about $50 – $60 per person – reasonable by Miami standards.
And by the way, kids love this place. We’ve taken our grandchildren on numerous occasions. And with kids, it’s comforting to know that they will serve plain penne with butter…no cheese or green stuff either.