Restaurant News & Reviews

The Ferraro’s story: from bait and tackle shop to high-end Italian

Piquillo pepper stuffed with a mixture of goat cheese, proscuitto and portobello mushroom in romesco sauce served at Ferraro’s Kitchen & Wine Bar, 79th Street, Shorecrest.
Piquillo pepper stuffed with a mixture of goat cheese, proscuitto and portobello mushroom in romesco sauce served at Ferraro’s Kitchen & Wine Bar, 79th Street, Shorecrest.

The Place: Ferraro’s Kitchen & Wine Bar is in a former bait and tackle shop on the mainland side of 79th Street. The space was transformed into a modern Italian restaurant with one wall filled with wine bottles, a black polished granite counter with high green chairs and a patio in back with tables shaded by canopies. It is open with plenty of light from front windows during the day. It feels like the owners’ living room, but with extra tables and more than 300 wine labels priced to be affordable, mostly the best from each region of Italy.

The History: Owner-chef Igor Ferraro, from Venice, discovered the world of wine from his father, a wine producer in the Veneto region of Bassano del Grappa. He learned to cook from his mother and attended Cornaro hospitality school in Venice and became a sommelier. He went on to start a direct mail marketing company that became the largest in Italy. He sold it after 16 years and went to work as a chef for a wine consultant, then opened a cooking school and gastro-pub in Rome. After selling it, he came to Miami in 2012 and opened La Bottega in Coconut Grove with a partner. He sold his share and spent a year and a half renovating Ferraro’s; he opened six months ago with wife Christiana running the front and planning events. They offer lunch and dinner daily and interactive cooking classes twice a month plus wine tastings.

The Food: The dishes here take you to Italy with fish flown in from the Mediterranean and imported Italian olive oils, cheeses and cured meats. Start with a shared plate of charcuterie and cheeses or try sea bream carpaccio with lemon, thyme and extra virgin olive oil. Antipasto include piquillo peppers stuffed with a mixture of goat cheese, prosciutto and portobello mushroom in romesco sauce and octopus tossed with small dark violet Taggiasca olives from Liguria, capers and fingerling potato. Pastas include pappardelle with wild boar ragu; wide paccheri tubes from Naples with seafood; and squid ink fettuccine with scallops in lobster bisque. For entrees choose from the porterhouse steak for two; herb-marinated whole grilled Cornish hens; and braised veal cheeks in Barolo sauce. From the ocean, there’s grilled giant Nigerian shrimp and branzino baked with asparagus, potatoes, olives, capers, shrimp, calamari and scallops. Finish with house made tiramisu or lemon meringue pie.

You Didn’t Know This: Romesco sauce originated in Catalonia, Spain, but is popular in Italy. Fishermen created the sauce from a ground blend of roasted almonds, garlic, olive oil, bitxo peppers (similar to New Mexico chiles) and nyora peppers, a type of small sun-dried red bell pepper, to serve with seafood. Paccheri pasta, pronounced “pakkeri” resembles large segments of smooth garden hose. It was created by Sicilian pasta barons to hide four to five cloves of large, pungent garlic for smuggling into Prussia (now Austria). Prussia had banned imports of garlic from Italy to protect the Prussian market, but by the 1800s the Prussian garlic industry had folded.

If You Go

The Place: Ferraro’s Kitchen & Wine Bar

Address: 1099 NE 79th St., Shorecrest

Contact: 786-534-2136, ferraroskitchen.com and cookingclassinmiami.net

Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., dinner 5:30-10:30 p.m. every day.

Prices: Appetizers $13-$18, pasta $16-$20, entrees $28-$44, desserts $8-$12

FYI: Free parking in the lot.

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