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. 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 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 short rib lasagna is one of the very best in Miami. And the protein entrees are definitely not an afterthought either, which is obvious after the first bite of the huge veal parm or the juicy roast chicken.
Really, nothing at Macchialina is an afterthought—from the always-outstanding service 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.
The menu at Macchialina changes frequently, but here are a few examples of the kind of dishes you might find here.
Here's the gnocco fritto hack: don't just order the gnocco fritto. Order the prosciutto and porchetta too. Then you get to peel open the gnocco fritto, stuff it with Italian meats, and make your own little appetizer sandwiches.
Macchialina’s polenta has been tweaked to perfection through the years—this latest buttery version is filled with savory chicken sausage and pops of sweet pickled cherry peppers. We’ll be sad if they decide to tweak it again, but we also trust that it will somehow be even better.
This perfect lasagna arrives in a shallow pool of a rich orange-y sauce that adds so much flavor to the layers of tender short rib, pasta sheets, bechamel, and rich taleggio fonduta. There’s also a sweet touch from caramelized onions and texture from a small addition of cabbage.
This veal parm comes in a size we can only describe as “continental.” It’s pounded nice and thin and there are slivers of parmigiano reggiano, arugula, and rich concentrated tomato on top. We understand if you're prioritizing pasta here, but you won’t be mad that this is on the table.