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Sleekly Handsome Il Grissino; El Scorpion Has More Bite As a Taqueria Than A Restaurant

This week, Victoria Pesce Elliott reviews Il Grissino, the "sleekly handsome, utterly friendly" Coral Gables restaurant named after a breadstick. It's also "where old meets new in an unpretentious and affordable way." Servers were "well trained," "pleasant" and "smiling," not to mention "well versed on the compact menu," which includes "simple and delicious pizzas that pop from the copper wood-burning oven," as well as "more refined fare, including capable grilled fish and meats." While she liked the "light and evenly rolled branzino-stuffed ravioli," the "well executed spaghetti with bright and tangy grouper and tomato," and the "delightfully, delicately handled and authentic monkfish Livornese," she wasn't in love with the "clunky artichike salad" that skimped on Parmesan cheese or the "disappointing, warm and slimy octopus and potato salad." Despite that, the final tally for Il Grissino was two and a half stars. []

Lee Klein tackles El Scorpion Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, the product of El Chodorow's son Zach. "The result is less glam than papa's properties, yet Scorpion's focus on providing fun with the fare indicates the avocado hasn't fallen far from the tree." The "smartly redefined" space "looks precisely as a Mexican cantina in South Beach should," notes Klein. Comp chips are "thin, corny, greaseless and crisp," and one of the two "freebie" salsas, the green, was a go, while the red, well, not so much. Of the firve versions of guacamole, Klein "preferred La Verdad, which is like Elvis without the glitter — ripe, creamy avocado mashed to a chunky state with bits of onion and tomato and hints of lime and cilantro. It's pretty much a perfect guacamole." As for the pay-salsas, Scorpion's pair of offerings involves little more than diced tomatoes tossed with some other stuff, but they go well with chips." Nachos are "the ideal bite to pair with a cold beer or any one of the fresh fruit-based cocktails," and ceviches seemed to underwhelm the reviewer, who also wasn't crazy about the cheese enchilada. Of the four entrees listed on the menu, the carne asada was "evidently well-marinated," while the shredded pork shoulder "was heavier than those we've tried in the Yucatan." While the prices of the entrees "aren't bad," "Scorpion works much better as a taqueria than a restaurant." Tacos are "distinctly flavorful," though "for $3.50 per taco, the filling should be less parsimonious." Tequila list is "more extensive than the food menu," and margaritas are "just the classic tart mix of tequila, Conintreau, and lime juice." Bottom line? "El Scorpion doesn't take itself too seriously and as such is a cool joint to relax and let your hair down. Stick with the guac, tacos, nachos, and tequila (or beer), and you'll have a good time."[MNT]