Here’s a great pick for a Miami Spice Italian restaurant that Vegans and vegetarians will love, along with their fellow diners who like traditional (non-Vegan) Italian cuisine. La Moderna takes the Italian classics like parmigiana, carpaccio, cannelloni and makes them Vegan with great success (gluten free as well) and has crowd pleasers too, classic non-Vegan dishes. Then there are the generous “add ons” for Spice, and the super charming Italian manager Ugo.
In Sunset Harbour, La Moderna has a comfortable neighborhood vibe. Easy. Friendly. Like a trattoria, with seating inside and outdoors. Plus, you can have a conversation. The chef is from Puglia in Southeastern Italy.
But on to the food. Trying to watch the calories, I opted for the grilled portobello mushroom carpaccio garnished with green bell pepper and julienne fennel with arugula pesto sauce. It was light and flavorful, a clever twist on the beef and fish varieties. Even better we liked the crabless cake. Would you believe it’s made of wood oven baked seaweed with lemon, black olives, crispy arugula and fennel sauce. You’d never imagine it was seaweed by the taste or consistency, and, in fact, tasted like a delicious real crab cake.
For mains I had the vegan lilies with broccoli rabe sauce. The pasta is Legu brand of Milan, legumes based and made using using a mixture of chickpeas, peas, and white beans. A serving of Legù pasta is said to contain just over half the carbohydrates of traditional durum wheat pasta, twice as much in vegetable protein, and a very low salt content. It was satisfying and tasty and, as with the crabcake, wouldn’t have known it was not the traditional pasta. Mr. W opted for the aged ribeye tagliata, sliced grilled aged angus prime rib eye garnished with baby spinach and served with smoked creamy pecorino and truffle carpaccio. It was beefy and flavorful – he ate the whole thing (with more than a little help from me as it was delicious). Other appealing menu items were the carbonara de mare, pan seared swordfish involtini and signature lobster tagliolini.
A star of the dinner was the vegan lava cake. It’s their version of the traditional molten chocolate or lava cake. I’ve had it many times but this was the best ever. It was so chocolately I could smell it coming to the table. The consistency was a little firmer than most, and a little grainy, which made it more of a taste sensation than the usual. Another good choice is the Italian cheesecake made with bufala mozzarella cheese served with chocolate and strawberry jam.
Note that all of the dishes mentioned are on the standard spice menu, no supplements. Plus, there’s a choice of one of three signature cocktails and a menu of 12 choices of bottles of wine – red, white and rosé — for $25 or $7 a glass (6 ounce pour).
La Moderna, 1874 Bay Road, Sunset Harbor (T.786-717-7274). It’s open for lunch and dinner. Miami Spice is offered exclusively at dinner. Very convenient, reasonably priced garage parking a few doors down from the restaurant on Bay Road.