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Jury's Still Out On Urbanite Bistro, Randazzo's Little Italy's a Knockout

Miami New Times reviewer Riki Altman ponders if Miami's ready for the Urbanite Bistro and vice versa. And like much in Miami, the so-called Arts & Media district eatery sure does look good. "One of Urbanite's most attractive features is its rotation of local artists's works every six weeks," the reviewer writes. But Altman's dining companion wanted to know "Why is it so empty?" The answer, according to Altman, "Probably has more to do with newness and the downtown location than the menu." As for the menu, "prices seemed fair," and the duck confit raviloi was a hit. "The portion allowed for six near-perfect bites." Moroccan lamb sliders were "intriguing" and "playfully presented." As for the alligator egg rolls? Not so much. "Though novel in theory, the four cross sections were greasy and boring." The grouper was "slightly overcooked, though tasty." The Angus burger made up for both misses, scoring "points for its soft brioche bun, crisp butter lettuce, hand cut fries, and accompanying crisp paper-thin boniato chips." Bottom line: "Yep, Urbanite has some issues to resolve, but many patrons will still consider this new eatery a little gem merely in need of a good polishing . . .Diners seek the unexpected on their first visit. After that, it's a fine dance of predictability and intrigue. So for now the verdict is still out on the Urbanite, especially because the chef plans to change the menu in a few weeks." [Miami New Times]

Victoria Pesce Elliott only means well when she calls Randazzo's Little Italy "so perfectly goomba." But it's more than something out of The Sopranos Central Casting. And it has nothing to do with the fact that boxer-owner Marc Randazzo "Fawns over cute little girls and checks on tables to be sure everyone is happy." It could have something to do with the fact that the restaurant, in its new and enlarged spot on the corner of Miracle Mile, now takes reservations. But about the food. It's definitely not for lightweights and has VPE seeing stars--three and a half stars to be specific. "Think rich. This is no place for dieters," VPE warns. Calamari was "deliciously crisp" and "as big as my thumb." The rigatoni with vodka sauce "is a delicately creamy, super-rich amalgam of sweet, spicy, smooth and salty that could bring any homesick Italian American to tears." That said, "It is the spaghetti with Sunday gravy that truly defines Randazzo's. The red sauce has long cooked depth yet retains a fresh tanginess and just a tiny hint of sweetness without any obvious sugar. It comes on a mammoth platter over al dente strands of pasta studded with dense, meaty, fist-sized meatballs and hunks of sweet and hot sausage--a dish that would be impossible for anyone I know to finish." Except maybe Randzzo himself, whose humor helps make the place a success. "Like they say on the menu, 'Shut up and eat a cannoli! It's 10,000 calories. So what! You ain't a model!"[Miami Herald]