Randazzo’s Little Italy (A Review)

So, Miami Spice is back!  That means there are two months of discounted meals at fancy places headed my way.  This year, the first stop was Randazzo’s Little Italy in Coral Gables.  This restaurant serves Southern Italian cuisine, which encompasses the rich tomato sauce and olive oil rich cuisine that most of us associate with Italian food.  Co-owned by litigation attorney Jim Ferraro and retired boxer Marc Randazzo, this small restaurant sports the red-and-white checkered tablecloths that bring to mind a neighborhood Italian diner, without losing the Coral Gables swagger.  They are offering a three-course lunch for $23 until the end of September.

When seated, we were brought out a small dish of what looked like pickled peppers.

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They brought out a basket of toasted bread soon after, which we dipped in the sauce.  The peppers, while spicy, were not overwhelming.  The flavors were fresh and clean.  When I asked what was in this, I was told that it was a mixture of peppers, olive oil, herbs, and spices.  That doesn’t exactly narrow it down, but I guess they can’t be giving all of their secrets away.  I must shamefully admit that I had a hand in polishing off 2 baskets of bread with this peppery olive oil.  Luckily, we practiced enough restraint to keep from requesting another basket before being brought out our appetizers.

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On the menu, it reads “baby meatballs,” but what I think they meant was “a meatball the size of an actual baby.”  It was served with a dollop of ricotta cheese.  I was impressed with how tender this meatball was.  There was no dry, crumbly meat.  You could cut it with a knife, and it held its shape.  The sauce that the meatball was served in had a kick that caught me off guard.

While my meatball was quite good, it was my friend’s Chicago calamari that stole the show.

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Breaded and fried calamari is tossed in tomato sauce with peppers, and topped with Gorgonzola cheese.  To say that this is my new standard for calamari would be an understatement.  The breaded calamari managed to maintain some of their crisp exterior, despite the sauce they they were tossed in.  The Gorgonzola cheese melted on top was reminiscent of a tangy, creamy cheese sauce.  I couldn’t keep my fork out of her plate.

Sadly, it came to an end soon enough.  But, at least it was time for the entrees!

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Randazzo’s seafood risotto was chock full of mussels, calamari, shrimp, and fish.  This was my first time having risotto that was not particularly creamy.  I was told that the risotto is cooked in Prosecco, and then finished with marinara sauce.  I enjoyed the unique texture that this cooking method gave the rice.  Plus, the amount of seafood contained in the risotto was incredibly generous.  It’s what Colombian “rice with ketchup” would be if it was taken to its logical 5-star level.

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The ravioli carbonara at Randazzo’s replaced the bacon in traditional carbonara sauces with prosciutto.  Still, these giant pasta packets were filled with cheesy deliciousness.  The sauce was surprisingly light for being a cream sauce.

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The salmon oreganato was another pleasant surprise.  It was pan seared and served in a lemon butter sauce, which succeeded in being rich and light at the same time.  There was just enough citrus tartness to cut the buttery taste, and the salmon did not taste “fishy” at all.

Somehow, we still had room for dessert.

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As far as tiramisu goes, this one was pretty solid.  The portion size was on the small side compared to other restaurants, but I think it was the perfect portion to sweeten the palate after a rich meal.  My friend got a cannoli, after a disappointing cannoli experience at another restaurant that shall remain nameless (for now).

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I don’t really have a basis of comparison for their cannolis, but my friend enjoyed it very much.  The filling seemed to have a hint of spice to it.  Our best guess was allspice.  The ground pistachios on either side were a nice touch.

Overall, I really enjoyed the meal and thought that it was an excellent value for the price.  Rumor has it that you can sometimes see Marc Randazzo himself, coming out to greet the diners.  That didn’t happen this time.  But, if it ever does, I’ll be sure to tell him how great his food is.

 

UPDATE 3/28/2017

This restaurant is permanently closed

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