Sunday night dinners are a tradition in big Italian households. Sometimes an all day affair, Grandma and Mama hold court in the kitchen while the children, aunts, uncles, and cousins all descend for a traditional Italian red sauce meal.
Growing up in Queens, NY, that tradition was the inspiration for Michael Pirolo’s Red Sauce Sunday menu at Macchialina. And even with the glowing reviews and excited buzz surrounding his newest venture, Asian inspired, Bazi, Macchialina is still a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Macchialina, on a non-descript stretch of Alton Rd and 8th street, is a cozy, familial taverna with brick walls, recycled wood tables, a long bar, outdoor seating, and the perfect spot for enjoying the Pirolo family recipes.
For $39 pp, the portions are staggering and served family style on huge sharing plates to be passed around just like you would at a family dinner. Each course is lovingly prepared according to recipes passed down from grandmother to mother to Michael, with each generation adding their own personal touch.
All the tables were full and virtually groaning with the food; a bright green salad mixto in olive oil and vinegar topped with braciole, flank steak rolled with pine nuts and parmigiano, fresh rigatoni tubes in a gutsy tomato sauce, veal cheek and pork meatballs and spicy sausages, crusty garlic bread and for dessert, Maccialina’s signature Tiramesu served in a glass jar and topped with chocolate crumble and espresso granite.
And it felt like one big happy family, as we chatted with the couples on either side of us while mopping up the sauce with the bread and sipping our red wine.
Chef Pirolo opened Macchialina just two years ago as part of the Pubbelly Group, but soon after amicably moved to take control as independent chef/owner. His background has been extensive in kitchens in NY and Italy and opened Scarpetta at The Fontainebleau as chef de cuisine for Scott Conant. Macchialina was his vision for a casual, authentic Italian eatery and he has found being both chef and owner both challenging and quite amazing.
He credits his cooks and staff for their commitment and passion for learning and he says that mentoring new cooks is one of the best parts of his job. When I asked about what advice he would give to an aspiring chef, he quickly responded that learning by working in 6-10 different restaurants is key to growth as a chef, and that expecting to become a sous chef too early is the common disappointment among today’s aspiring cooks.
As we finished up our main meal and excitedly awaited the tiramisu, I noticed that the salad alone seemed to be largely untouched. I asked Chef Pirolo if he preferred salad before or after the meal, like they do in Italy. He laughed and said always, “after “, as his Grandmother used to say it was to “refreshen”. He shared a story from long ago in Italy, when after an all day meal of too many courses, his Grandmother, Carmela, stood up and announced at the end of the meal, “ What? No Salad? “.
Sunday Red Sauce ( see full menu below) is hopefully here to stay at Macchialina for a long time.
Grab your family, your extended family, your friends and even your "frenemies" and Mangia!
820 Alton Rd.
Miami Beach, FL
305 534 2124