Ristorante Fratelli Milano
213 SE 1st Street
I’ll let you in on a secret of mine: While I do often scour the websites and social media pages of the major players in Miami’s foodie scene (Miami New Times’ Short Order blog and Eater Miami included), sometimes I receive restaurant recommendations from my husband and his coworkers. I know it might sound weird, being as I’m a food blogger and all, but I have no shame – and an extremely open mind – when it comes to trying new restaurants. And the reason I’d even consider their opinions is the fact that during busy tax season, my husband’s CPA firm orders in dinner for their employees every night, meaning he gets to sample dishes from all over the city and reports back to me his findings.
We’ve lived in Miami for over a year now and my go-to Italian restaurant has always been Perricone’s, a delightful Brickell mainstay comprising a cozy courtyard ambience, consistent Italian fare and live music. So when Kenny told me one of his coworkers made mention of Ristorante Fratelli Milano, a chic spot down the street from his downtown Miami office that, as his colleague claimed, “blew Perricone’s out of the water,” I kept an open mind and ventured that way for dinner after work on a Friday evening.
One step inside the dimly lit dining room and you notice it’s a family affair – that is, if you come from a wealthy Italian family with impeccable taste. Photos of the owners, twin brothers Chefs Robert and Emanuele Bearzi, adorn the walls, and the well-appointed neutral décor offers an understated elegance. Our friendly server welcomed us in a thick, authentic Italian accent and after a few sips of Sangiovese wine, our appetizer arrived in the form of Polpette di Manzo ($13) — three perfectly plump orbs swimming in a tangy tomato sauce.
We teetered on ordering a pizza to share (they range from $10 to $13), but instead opted for pasta, which is made from scratch each day by Emanuele. While a bit on the heavier side, Kenny savored the juicy filet mignon and porcini mushrooms packed in the Pappardelle Milano ($23). My Penne alla Putanesca ($16) burst with robust flavors from the Kalamata olives, capers and salty anchovies. If you’re not a fan of anchovies, you might order something else, because this dish is packed with their intense fishy flavor. Both dishes offered sizeable portions, and we brought home nearly half of each for leftovers.
Stuffed as we were, we still ordered dessert to-go: a connolo ($5), which was big enough to share and dappled with mini chocolate chips, and a bombolone ($4), an Italian doughnut filled with cream, which could’ve been sweeter for Kenny’s liking.
Did we enjoy our dining experience at Ristorante Fratelli Milano? Certainly. However, I’d be hard-pressed to say that this place is any more special than Perricone’s, especially when you consider the latter is walking distance from my condo and furnishes a pretty spectacular courtyard vibe. Nonetheless, I can admit that it’s not entirely fair to compare the two when they each distinctively offer a superb taste of Italy.