By Gary J. Arzt
A little more then a decade ago, Steve Perricone had a dream. He wanted to convert a home, sitting on S. E. 10th Street, just west of Brickell Avenue (built in the early part of the 20th century) into a restaurant. I shan’t dwell on the results of that effort, save to say that the idea ‘collapsed around him.’ Undeterred, Steve left for Vermont, where he found and dismantled a barn built around 1700. The patina of age, of the beams, flooring and walls have added to the comfort, charm and hominess of Perricone’s - a restaurant that is filled with local businessmen, the idle rich and people passing through town on business or as tourists.
What draws them is a menu with offerings that will satisfy any diner; a quality of food that surpasses restaurants charging far more; and a calibre of service that equals the best of dining experiences.
When entering the restaurant, you first arrive on the porch, with outdoor dining and a full bar. You enter and you are in the ‘market’ with an exquisite selection of prepared foods; wines; cheeses; pastries, fine chocolates.
Beyond the podium is the first dining area…attractive, conventional. Pass through that and you are in an atrium, with a clear roof and a small statuary fountain the in centre of the room. It is as bright as daylight, and inordinately conducive to a relaxed lunch.
Proceed down a few steps to your right and you are in vast, albeit friendly space again appearing to be a ‘temporary’ structure…but structure is the operative word.
The last, possible stop is outdoors - my preference, as I prefer to smoke my cigar until the meal arrives; during the meal and after the meal! Again, even out-of-doors at Perricone’s is a covered space.
That’s the architecture and the ambiance; now let’s get down to what we came for…the food.
The menu, while not vast, is surely comprehensive. And, one of the things you notice is the Steve Perricone’s Grandma Jennie must have been a fantastic cook. There are several items on the menu, that bear Grandma Jennie’s signature and are, obviously, her recipes. Her meatballs parmigiana, as a plate or a sandwich; Grandma Jennie’s meat lasagna is, what can I say, an experience!
I have eaten there very often over the years and have experienced dishes, in addition to Grandma Jennie’s recipes, such as classic Caesar salads, while not made table-side, are superb; homemade Gnocchi with Gorgonzola or Pomodoro sauce - fantastic; Penne Pomodoro, plain or with sautéed shrimp, or diced grilled chicken - always mouth watering. For the diabetics among you, they have whole wheat penne.
If you want salads as an entrée nothing will satisfy more than the Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna salad, on a bed of mixed baby greens with delicious soy-ginger vinaigrette.
One of my favorites is the Cappellini (angel hair pasta) with sautéed Gulf shrimp, diced tomatoes, fresh basil and garlic - for me, lots of garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. The dish is equally enjoyable with Perricone’s signature Pomodoro sauce.
At a recent Saturday luncheon with friends, I tasted one of my guests Fiocchi Gorgonzola, a confection of purse shaped pasta stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese and fresh pear, served in a Gorgonzola sauce sprinkled with walnuts. It was amazing.
Three of us had a real spécialité of the house, Sunday Sauce! This is penne served with a rich tomato sauce that covers sausage, short rib and meatballs. I fear I am leaving something out…but you get the idea. This is a phenomenal meal and you might consider skipping the appetizer if you order this.
There are daily Pasta Specials; daily Panini Specials and Thursday is $10 Pasta Day! Yes, every pasta is $10. Now that’s not a huge savings, because Perricone’s prices are reasonable…but, you’ll save money on Thursday.
A full bar serving the conventional and some very interesting libations. I thoroughly enjoy the Peach Mojito.
Least I forget, they have a fabulous Sunday Brunch! It is served 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM, which is the last seating, and is served every Sunday. It costs $18.95 per person excluding holidays.
Try to leave room for dessert. The best cannoli south of Little Italy; cheese cake; the astounding Perricone’s chocolate cake - have it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
|Perricone’s Marketplace & Café
15 South East 10th Street
Miami, FL 33131