Hands down, my favorite affordable Italian restaurant in the city is Ristorante Fratelli Milano. This petite restaurant is a neighborhood gem that seems like it should belong in Brickell, Midtown, South Beach, or better yet, some city in Italy. The food is fresh, authentic, made by very capable hands, and inexpensive. To me, all these factors seem like a recipe for success.
Fratelli Milano is owned and operated by two Italian brothers, Chefs Roberto and Emmanuele Bearzi. Open for what seems like forever in a petite downtown location, this restaurant somehow manages to produce an ambiance unlike anything else you can find in the area. The simple, yet chic, furniture make for a very accommodating setting that urges you to eat. Walking in, the first things you will see are pastry cases displaying the original desserts made in-house by Emmanuele himself. Cookies the size of your head and palmiers are the norm, but Emmanuelle is talented enough to make other pastries such as an exquisite profiterole and bombolone. You’d make a mistake in not leaving room for dessert here. The dim lights seem to be a few notches lower than they should be and the acoustics of the locale could use some work, but once you have your food in front of you, all criticisms go out the door.
The pasta is made in house and is prepared expertly, making for a toothsome product that retains all the sauce that is accompanying it. You’d be surprised how many “Italian” restaurants cannot get a simple plate of pasta right. That is not the case here, as the flavorful sauces and exquisite and fresh ingredients accompanying them marry with the pasta to create a symphony of flavors that are simply mouth-watering.
The lasagna being offered at Fratelli Milano is the best in the city. While some other lasagna in Miami rely on being hearty and heavy affairs, Fratelli Milano manages to convince you that what you are eating is light despite the copious amounts of meat, cheese, and béchamel. The refreshing tomato and light-as-air pasta merge all the other ingredients to produce a harmonizing dish. The Trofie alle Melanzane, a twisted pasta with fresh tomato sauce, sautéed eggplant, fresh mozzarella, and basil, is exemplary as well. As basic as it may seem, this dish highlights Italian cooking in the way it was meant to be highlighted. By using few ingredients and executing them correctly, the kitchen manages to make something like eggplant seem just as complex as braised meat. The eggplant is meaty and textured, instead of what you may be accustomed to, and the pasta is cooked to a requested al dente. Overall, you cannot go wrong with any pasta dish.
Grabbing a table here during dinnertime may be a hassle, but that is understandable due to the quality of food. Although I wish it were not the case, word has gotten out about Fratelli Milano. Still, I am happy for their success and will continue to mention them as my favorite Italian Restaurant in town.
Ristorante Fratelli Milano
213 SE 1st St, Miami, FL 33131
By food blogger, Santiago Cardona