O Munaciello, Fave Neighborhood Pick
I’m often asked where to go for a casual bite with family or a group of friends, a place that’s reasonable and where you eat well,. Pizzerias often qualify, though they often lack style, and the other menu items are just ok. ‘O Munaciello 6425 Biscayne Blvd., in the heart of the MiMo District is my latest place to enthusiastically recommend. Not surprisingly, it’s from Florence — a leading pizzeria and full menu restaurant import. To add a special twist, the pizza master hails from a long line of Neopolitan restaurateurs and pizza makers, and the chef is from Genoa. And, as you’d expect from Italy, the place is casual and attractive.
At the helm of ‘O Munaciello Miami’s kitchen is Pizza Master Carmine Candito. He grew up working at his father’s popular restaurant “Un Posto Al Sole” in Naples, Italy, eventually becoming a pizza maker for two leading restaurants in the region. Candito later moved to Florence, Italy, to work at Le Scuderie which was then transformed into ‘O Munaciello over 10 years ago. ‘O Munaciello Florence was built in an annex of the 17th century Florentine Santo Spirito Basilica, one of the most famous and historic churches in Florence, designed by the Renaissance genius, Brunelleschi, who also designed the iconic dome of the city’s main cathedral, the Duomo
Elia Cui serves as Executive Chef for the Miami ‘O Munaciello. Originally from the Genoa region of Italy, Cui has experience working in some of the most popular dining venues across Italy, including Porto Cervo (Billionaire), Milan (Byblos), Florence (Pizzeria ZeroZero, Ristorante IX) and Pisa (Villa Lena) before working at ‘O Munaciello Florence.
The restaurant features 24’ vaulted brick ceilings crowned by a colorful fresco of the Bay of Naples, warm, pastel colors on the walls and painted chairs and tables; and wall reliefs depicting the balconied homes in Naples, Italy.. The 1,000 square foot indoor space features 60 seats with indoor and outdoor areas. Looking over diners from the ceiling vaults of the main room is a life-sized sculpture of “O’Angelo”, the Angel of the Nativity.
The menu is divided into starters, pastas and risotto, meat and fish main courses, sides, special pizza, calzoni, covaccini (think pizza without the bread), classic pizza and desserts. We started with the eggplant parmigiana that was an authentic rendition of this classical favorite and tasted home made and beautifully presented. Though it was tough to choose among a selection of 20 pizzas, we started with one of the signature pizzas, Vesuvio. It’s made with mozzarella from Caserta, Italy; piennolo cherry tomatoes, fresh black truffle and burrata from Bari. Diners can choose to have the pies made with a charcoal infused flour that’s black (and said to be better for the digestion) or traditional white flour. We opted for the black crusty pizza which will now be our go-to standard. It came with a ball of burrata in the center. You slice the burrata and it oozes its goodness over the pizza. Sublime, we would have braved Pompeii on the night of Vesuvio for this one.
Next up was the linguine alla vongole, the clams fresh, the pasta al dente, and perfectly seasoned (I would have liked a little more sauce though). To accompany it we ordered broccoli sautéed with capers and anchovies that had a welcome kick, taking it out of the pedestrian vegetable side order category found at most restaurants.
Next time – and we’ll definitely be back –in particular we want to try the mussels with crushed black pepper (a recommendation of the waiter), risotto ala pescatora (with seafood) and the san daniele pizza with mozzarella, arugula, cured ham and shaved parmesan. We also have our eyes on the Baccala di Pulcinella.
For dessert I suggest the Selezione di Dolci with Sicilian cannoli, Baba al Rum and the Pastiera Napoletana.
We washed it all down with glasses of Chianti , reasonably priced at $10 a glass. Bottles start at $25.
Pizzas average $18; meat and fish entrees $18 to $35; sides $6-$7 and most desserts are $7. Valet parking is available on 64th street and Biscayne Boulevard at a reduced price for customers.
O Munaciello, 6425 Biscayne Blvd., T. (786) 907-4000, a neighborhood gem and worth the trip even if you’re not in the neighborhood.