Simple is good. Simple is refreshing. Simple is necessary in this day and age when cars now speak English and an app can show you what your pet would look like as a 46-year-old man.
And one big reason why we love eating at Macchialina is that it’s simple, in the best sense of the word. We know what to expect when we come here: Italian dishes (mostly pasta) that feel like a final draft, edited to near perfection without so much as one superfluous fragment of parmesan on the plate. In fact, we could probably write this review like one of those six-word short-story challenges: Lovely restaurant. Incredible pasta. Get dessert.
But of course, there are other things to know about Macchialina before you go. It’s a small, dark Italian spot on Alton Road that’s just about always packed, so a reservation is a good idea. During the pandemic, they took over the hostel next door, and now offer some really pretty outdoor seating in a colorful space where tourists used to get incredibly drunk. It’s a restaurant great for both an intimate date or a fun group dinner involving lots of wine.
The menu has about six kinds of pasta (plus daily specials) that are pretty much all winners. The spaghetti pomodoro should speak at school assemblies so other spaghetti pomodoros can see what kind of perfectly al dente pasta they should be when they grow up. The mezzaluna is stuffed with ideal portions of ricotta salata. And the protein entrees are definitely not an afterthought either, which is obvious after the first bite of the huge veal parm or the incredibly juicy roast chicken.
Really, nothing at Macchialina is an afterthought - from the always-outstanding service to the cocktails to the bread pudding that never fails to make us want to fight a loved one over the last bite. But, also, nothing at Macchialina feels overanalyzed or trying too hard to impress. It’s a place that seems to have figured out what a lot of restaurants in Miami - and especially in South Beach - struggle to understand: that sometimes being an excellent restaurant is enough. It’s just that simple.
Look - there is no bad pasta at Macchialina. So ordering is all about your personal pasta preferences. Are you a fan of pasta stuffed with creamy ricotta salata? Then you might like this. And if you’re into the textural contrast between hazelnuts and sweet little cubes of beet, then you might love this.
This veal parm comes in a size we can only describe as “continental.” It’s pounded nice and thin and there are melting islands of mozzarella on top of the whole thing. We totally understand if you just want to stick to pasta here, but you also won’t be mad that this is on the table.
If you love spaghetti, this will remind you why. And if you’ve never been a particularly big spaghetti person, this might convert you with its great sauce and perfectly-cooked noodles.
Yes, it’s hard to take your focus off pasta here. But this is a very good roast chicken. Almost every scrap of meat is juicy and well-seasoned. And if there is any bread on the table, use it to wipe all the great juices off the plate.
There’s just nothing in this dish that’s not pulling its weight. The baby meatballs are delicious, the shredded porchetta and rich sauce cling to each cavatelli for dear life, and the pecorino cuts through all that richness wonderfully.
If this stays on the plate for more than five minutes, we’ll be impressed. The excellent bread pudding has a slight banana flavor, crumbled hazelnuts on top, and a scoop of thick whipped cream next to it. If you’re sharing, try and bribe the server to drop this plate directly in front of you.