Lee Klein goes into retro-review mode, checking out South Beach Italian throwback Osteria del Teatro which, he says, "has retained the best attributes of fine-dining establishments without subscribing to the more regrettable ones." The restaurant evokes a certain nostalgia for Klein, reminding him "of aspects of dining that we miss, such as being able to enjoy a meal without the strobe of flat-screen TV sets and the din of club music thrashing overhead." And here's something novel: "Osteria's success relies on its staff's relations with the public rather than on a public relations staff."
Foodwise, the chef "mostly sticks to textbook renditions of old-school favorites." Eggplant parm is made "the way Italians in my Brooklyn neighborhood used to make it." Add a little parm to the pasta e fagioli and "it's pretty much what sits on rustic tables in Tuscany." Raviolli and pappardelle are two specials "that stand out not only for solid execution but for unusually high price: $28 to $34." Long story short, "Osteria is an expensive joint." Bottom line: "Osteria del Teatro isn't about having the best desserts in town, or even the finest Italian cuisine. Rather, it remains popular because of consistently gratifying food and attentive, personal service that is unequaled on the Beach." [MNT]