In a city where restaurants come and go, it’s hard to find one that has the lasting power of Caffe Vialetto. The Coral Gables restaurant has been a staple in the community for close to 20 years by utilizing a simple formula: great food, superb service and ownership that truly cares about its customers.
Caffe Vialetto opened in March of 1999 by business partners Marcelo Chopa and Ernie Fernandez. For those who have never visited, the restaurant can be a bit hard to find at first — and admittedly so, but that shouldn’t deter a spot. Caffe Vialetto’s entrance accessible by a back ally way, which also happens to be the inspiration for the restaurant’s name. In the area of Florence, Italy, the word “vialetto” is a slang term for alley ways. Once inside guests will find a welcoming 70-seat restaurant features clean lines, white tablecloths, and a knowledgeable and attentive wait staff.
The restaurant is open for lunch every weekday and dinner every evening, even serving as a favorite amongst the neighborhood to host private events like birthdays and bridal showers, where guests can utilize the restaurant’s private dining room that gives off an intimate atmosphere akin to having dinner at a friend’s house, just with much better food.
The menu, which started off decidedly Italian, has evolved over the years to include plenty of Latin and South American flavors, but many of the restaurant favorites still remain the same. The star of the menu is easily the braised short rib, which is a flavorful and hearty dish that is topped with a rosemary demi-glaze and served over a creamy champagne risotto. It’s been a staple on the menu since for years and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Other classics on the menu include the tuna tostone made with lightly blackened seared sashimi tuna served with a parmesan, cucumber, shoestring potatoes salad in a spicy truffle vinaigrette housed on top of a crispy tostone; the hogfish topped with a Miami appropriate mango mojito sauce; and the “meat candy” aka braised pork belled that is then covered in an apricot demi-glazed and served on a bed of four cheese polenta.
Of course pasta is a must while at Caffe Vialetto. And no matter what your appetite might be the restaurant has you covered offering full, half, and even bite-sized version of all their different raviolis. And while all the freshly made pastas are delicious, guests would be remiss not to try the fig ravioli or the pear ravioli – both crowd favorites. Another standout pasta is the pappardelle made with the restaurant’s famous melt-in-your-mouth short ribs, which are shredded and sautéed, and then mixed with mozzarella, spinach, olive oil and garlic reduction and then finished with a touch of black truffle oil.
As for desserts, those in the know, know you have to get funky. How so? By ordering the restaurant’s signature Funk dish. This unique take on a tiramisu is made with ladyfingers that are drenched in coffee, then topped with mascarpone and Heath Bar Crunch. It’s then served with a rich mixture of blueberry sauce and condensed milk, which help made for a smooth, crunchy and fruity dessert that is all delivered in one bite. Another tasty dessert option is The Bomb, which is a chocolate cake with a Heath Bar center that’s tossed in blueberry sauce as well.
And with all these crowd favorites – what do the owners think the most underrated dish on the menu is? Fernandez answers that question without hesitation, “the linguini fruta di mare that’s on the lunch menu, made with sautéed calamari, scallops, and shrimp in a spicy marinara sauce.”
No matter the occasion — whether it is a romantic date night celebrating a special anniversary, a casual business lunch, or a celebration with 30 of your closest friends — Caffe Vialetto has you covered and will guarantee to make your meal a memorable (and delicious!) one.