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. So simple that we could probably write this review like one of those six-word short-story challenges: Small restaurant. Incredible pasta. Get lasagna.
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. And on Thursdays they run a pretty insane special where each pasta is only $10 all night, so a reservation is a really good idea then.
The small menu has six pastas 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 beet mezzaluna is slightly sweet, buttery, and comes sprinkled with diced beets and an impressive amount of ricotta salata. And that lasagna is a creamy masterpiece - your table will absolutely finish the very reasonable portion before seriously considering ordering another very reasonable portion. The pastas are really what we stick to here, although one of the tasty antipastos like the local burrata is a good cheese warm-up for the table.
If you’re not trying to comb through their very big selection of Italian wines by the bottle, drinking should be easy here too. Their wines by the glass take up less than a page, there are three beers, and their cocktails are the old-school ones with a lot of name recognition - like the negroni, spritz, and Gibson. Macchialina seems to have figured out what a lot of restaurants in Miami - and especially in South Beach - struggle to understand: that sometimes really good food is enough. It’s just that simple.
The artichoke is stuffed with baby spinach, pine nuts, and has a chunk of mozzarella hanging out next to it. It’s good but not particularly memorable and a little small for being the most expensive dish on the antipasti section of the menu. Get it if you’re really into artichokes. Otherwise, it’s not necessary.
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 pasta.
This isn’t a burrata you get to split open like a water balloon, but it’s tasty nonetheless and comes with some crispy bread and heirloom tomatoes so you can assemble your own toast.
This is a perfectly executed lasagna where every layer is an ideal blend of creamy taleggio cheese and just enough short rib to add flavor without giving you meat fatigue.
We like a lot of things about this dish. The beets are sweet, the hazelnuts add a nice crunch, there’s brown butter (our favorite butter), and a very healthy amount of ricotta salata cheese. It’s like a Kendrick Lamar album: there’s not a single moment you want to skip.
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. But it’s just not quite good enough to justify ordering instead of more pasta.
If this sits on your table 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.