The idea of grabbing takeout in Coconut Grove, with its crowded, metered street parking, is pretty impractical.
That is, unless you’re in the know and take advantage of Calamari’s low-cost valet parking on the quieter south tip of the business district.
Call ahead and they’ll have your dinner ready to go in neatly stacked Styrofoam boxes. Or order when you get there, and use the wait as an excuse to grab a drink at the adjacent, revamped Taurus bar.
Calamari has only been in the Grove for about three years, but it already feels like an institution. The indoor-outdoor seating bustles nightly, and locals seem always seated at the full-service bar.
Several starters are stellar (and large) enough for dinner, particularly the thick and cheesy eggplant parmigiana. The molded tuna tartare, topped with fresh chunks of avocado and looped with thin strips of zucchini, is an excellent beginning. The pollo Milanese, a breaded chicken breast with a peppery arugula salad scattered atop, is one of our favorite entrees.
For the kids, there are margherita and pepperoni thin-crust pizzas from the brick oven and classic spaghetti and meatballs served with a dollop of ricotta that comes in half- and full-size portions.
Desserts (tiramisu, chocolate cake) are predictable but respectable.