We’ve passed by La Moderna Miami Italian Restaurant & Cocktail Bar numerous times. There’s always a good sized crowd, especially at the bar, so we decided to see what the appeal was and booked dinner. It’s a neighborhood favorite— plus it gets its share of Italians, always a good sign.
It’s a casual, comfortable and friendly place, more like a trattoria, with indoor and outdoor seating. The menu has all-time Italian favorites – from eggplant parmigiana, branzino, and grilled octopus to breaded veal cutlet which is increasingly difficult to find. Then there are the pizzas, nine varieties including the less common mezza luna, half margherita and half calzone filled with ricotta and ham. The chef, Gianluca Messano hails from Puglia, in Italy’s southeast. Pugliese chefs have a special way with Italian comfort food. Start out with the tempura fried zucchini blossoms filled with creamy goat cheese and ricotta. Interestingly enough, we found out that they’re now being cultivated year round in Orlando.
The burrata which happens to be made right here in Miami, was the perfect combination of creamy and a trifle chewy, served with a generous portion of prosciutto di Parma and baby arugula salad. A crowd favorite pasta is the tagliolini with a generous half a lobster, cherry tomatoes, thyme and shallots.
For the main course we opted for the breaded veal chop that almost filled the entire plate, ideal for sharing. It was expertly fried, at once crunchy, tender and served with the traditional accompaniments of arugula and grape tomato salad. Team up any dish with the sautéed mini zucchini and baby carrots that were very fresh, lightly fried with just the right amount of oil. There are appealing daily specials. The evening we went there was a novel mixed seafood grill with swordfish, salmon, langoustine and mixed vegetables.
Antipasti, pizzas and salads are priced in the teens. Pastas range from $15 to $28; entrees from $20 to $45 with most in the 20’s and 30’s. A glass of wine starts at $10 and bottles at $35 There’s also a good selection of Italian liqueurs and grappa. Convenient public parking down the block is a big plus.
La Moderna, 1874 Bay Road, Sunset Harbor (T.786-717-7274)). It’s open for lunch and dinner.