I was spoiled growing up thanks to an Italian grandmother who was a fantastic cook. Mom's not too shabby either. I, of course was her favorite because I would eagerly eat anything and everything she put on a plate in front of me. How many five year olds beg their grandma to make broccoli raab? And don't forget the eggplant parmesan, sausage and peppers and fegato too. Her meatballs and pasta were second to none. I have fond memories of the wonderful smell of her Sunday sauce permeating the house while it sat simmering on the stove all day. The moist Thanksgiving day turkey was always overshadowed by her perfect pasta course. I miss my grandmother and her food tremendously. And I wish I lived closer to my mom and her cooking. Not for selfish reasons but so that the chowtwins could have the same experiences and memories that I do.
Enough about me and my family. This post is about a new favorite spot of mine, MC Kitchen located in the shadows of the newly chic Design District of Miami. The kitchen is manned by Dena Marino who was previously at Devito's on South Beach. For numerous reasons, Ocean Drive, ridiculous prices, birth of chowtwins, Rhea Pearlman, I never made it down to Devito's before it closed despite hearing great things about chef Marino's food.
Chef Marino spent several years working under Michael Chiarello in Napa before moving to Aspen where she was dubbed "hot new chef" by Aspen Magazine. Not impressed? She also battled Iron Chef Morimoto on Iron Chef America. Allez cuisine!!!
MC Kitchen features an open kitchen with seats along the kitchen bar where you can watch the chefs in action. There's also a bar that has an impressive selection of twenty Dogfish beers on tap. Not sure I want beer when I'm eating Italian food but have no fear, I've tried several by the glass wine options and have enjoyed them all. Someone has a good palate.
I've been to MC Kitchen on three occasions and have enjoyed each one. My only gripe would be regarding amateurish service, annoyingly chatty, wrong dish and wine delivered to table, timid recommendations which were gladly overruled by a chef at the kitchen counter. But that is to be expected from a newly opened place so I'm sure this has been addressed.
As an Italian food lover I am always excited when old world Italian food is prepared using modern techniques that elevate the dishes to gourmet levels. Chef Marino nails it.
The food has been flawless on all three visits. Everything has been perfectly cooked and properly seasoned and sauced. Chef Marino's food exhibits great finesse and flavor.
Food lovers should run to MC Kitchen and Italian food lovers should be sitting there right now.
|Modern and lively dining room|
Who needs truffles when there are succulent and fresh head on langoustines with creamy polenta, serrano chili, garlic, oregano and orange zest on the menu. The langoustines were wonderful alone but the accompanying polenta provided a perfect combination.
A standout on the lunch menu is the broccoli raab and Italian sausage pizza. This is one of the best pizzas you will find in a restaurant thanks to the tasty crisp crust and quality toppings.
This octopus fan was in heaven while eating chef Marino's "stone oven roasted octopus" dish. Here she paired the tender octopus with a delicious and crispy squid ink risotto.
What I love the most about MC Kitchen is that chef Marino's pastas are always al dente and properly sauced. Pictured is her cavatelli with parmegiano reggiano topped with a basil spuma.
My favorite pasta at MC Kitchen is the garganelli bolognese featuring great morsels of ground venison, veal, pork and porcini mushrooms.
Another standout that I unfortunately was only able to sample were the soft pillows of roasted pear and cheese fiocchi. The delicate fiocchi and rich combination of white truffle cream, ricotta, grana padano and talleggio will make pasta fans very happy.
On the hearty side of the pasta equation is stellar pumpkin tortellini paired with a delicious braised Florida rabbit ragu, kale and housemade ricotta.