Bernie Matz's latest project, The Meatball Joint, opened last month next door to his L.A. Cafe on Alton Road in South Beach. Lee Klein of the Miami New Times stopped by to give it a first look, pointing out just how identical the concept is to Daniel Hotzman's NYC Meatball Shop but noting that "the Meatball Joint doesn't get it just right". Klein tried the gauntlet of balls - the "classic Italian" beef and pork combo, the "South Beach" turkey meatball, and the eggplant and Parmesan ball - seemingly only pleased by the taste of the traditional meatball with marinara on baguette combination. Outside of the classics, Klein noted that the "fredo" sauce was "a thin and horrid Parmesan sauce" and that a special lamb slider made "for a satisfying bite. Actually, more like two bites." All in all, Klein concluded "sure, you can get a decent meatball sub here for $10. But that's not what a specialty shop is all about." [MNT]
The Miami Herald's Victoria Pesce Elliot investigates Luca Bella in Aventura, questioning why "casual, 'family-style' Italian-American spots are as rare as a good steak carpaccio". Luca Bella strives for that old Italian nostalgia, "you hear it on the soundtrack with Old Blue Eyes and see it on the walls with photos of owner Mickey Maltese's kids, Marcelo Luca and Isabella, for whom the restaurant is named." As for the food, "Luca Bella manages to bring Italian-American fare to life without slipping into gangster-flick mode, and there are plenty of favorites here that reach far beyond red sauce." [MH]
Looking to offset the overwhelming number of chains in suburban Davie and Cooper City, Elaine Walker of The Miami Herald gives a roundup of three local restaurants that have built a following: Blue Moon Diner in Cooper City, Esmeralda Trattoria in Davie, and Poolhouse Grill on University Drive in Davie. [MH]
THE BLOGS: Fatgirl Hedonist only finds a few flaws in a night full of hits at Pubbelly.