He turned an old Biscayne Boulevard house into a Roman Italian restaurant

An old home on Biscayne Boulevard has become the hidden gem Osteria Baiocco.
An old home on Biscayne Boulevard has become the hidden gem Osteria Baiocco.

Osteria Baiocco in Morningside is bursting with character.

Opened seven months ago, the osteria (Italian for tavern) is in the old space that housed a realtor and is a former home, brick with imposing white pillars in the MiMo district. The interior is farmhouse rustic with a private room lined with wine bottles and a communal table. The fare is Roman and the name comes from baiocco, an ancient Roman coin currency. Owner David Ranucci owns four restaurants in Milan and ran several others in Monte Carlo and New York City, including Abbottega. For Baiocco, he hired chef Mario Schiano from Rome who cooks dishes of the Eternal City.

Start With These Dishes

Baccala at Osteria Baiocco

A couple of bite-sized appetizers are worth noting. Go for the lightly battered and fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with mozzarella with a hint of anchovies or battered cauliflower florets. Small chunks of salt cod are also given the fritter treatment. Or order a dish called Telephono, fried rice and tomato paste balls stuffed with a mozzarella — when you break one open, the cheese stretches into strings like a telephone cord.

Gnudi at Osteria Baiocco

Baccala Mantecato is a dish typical of the Jewish ghetto in Rome. Salt cod is blended with mashed potato and a little milk and formed into into a cake swimming in chickpea and tomato sauces garnished with anchovies and fresh mint leaves.

Do like the Italians and launch a meal here with a pasta dish. Try the pacccheri (ridged wide tubes) with lamb ragu and pecorino cheese or wide ribbons of egg pappardelle with ragu. Gnudi are ricotta and spinach gnocchi balls in tomato sauce with pecorino cheese fondue.

Share These Dishes

Paccheri with lamb ragu at Osteria Baiocco

Order bombolotti alla gricia, short ribbed pasta and pork guanciale (cured pork jowl), onions, chile flakes and pecorino cheese—no tomato as this dish pre-dates the arrival of the fruit from the New World.

If you’re into fish, a whole one-pound sea bream from Greece is baked in parchment with olives, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, capers, basil and thyme tasting of the Mediterranean.

Baccala alla Romana is salt cod sautéed with zucchini, cherry tomatoes, basil and pistachios in anchovy sauce, salty but delectable. Strips of cuttlefish are sautéed with baby kale served over slices of bread that soak up the sauces.

Switching from surf to turf, try the braised beef in red wine tomato sauce, spiked with black pepper or pork tenderloin in tonnato (tuna) sauce with a red wine demiglace. There’s also straccetti di manzo or shredded beef sauteed with rosemary and balsamic vinegar served over arugula.

Pollo del Magnifico is a roasted chicken breast in creamy potato sauce with herbs. Saltimbocca is a slab of beef rolled up with prosciutto and earthy sage for a meaty and salty taste.

Save Room For Dessert

Get the Torta Della Nonna, or grandma’s cream tart, with toasted pistachios.

Contact Linda Bladholm at Hidden Gems highlights out-of-the-way restaurants in Miami-Dade County. It is not intended to be an anonymous, critical review.

Osteria Baiocco

Address: 5599 Biscayne Blvd., Morningside

Contact: 305-759-1007,

Hours: Monday-Saturday 5:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.

Prices: Antipasti $4-$12, soup $9, pastas $16, entrees $21-$26, sides $6, desserts $7