Mattarello Bakery's Italian Treats

Photos by Jacquelynn D. Powers
Cannolis at Mattarello Bakery.
Forget about all of the fancy Italian restaurants on South Beach with their monster-sized Kobe beef meatballs and overpriced wine. At Mattarello Bakery, a hole-in-the wall on Washington Avenue, the focaccia is baked on-site fresh daily, the pasta is toothsome and tasty and the pastries are sinfully delicious. Mattarello Bakery mimics a typical neighborhood Italian trattoria with zero pretention. It's the real deal; evidenced by the Italian-speaking clientele, espresso so strong it will grow hair on your chest and regional Tuscan specialties like porchetta (slow-roasted pork shoulder) and cacciucco (seafood stew).

Opened in June 2008 by friends Antonio Martucci and Max Guerri, this hidden spot serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Mornings are all about steaming cups of cappuccino and espresso (they brew San Giorgio coffee from Italy), flaky pastries and eggs. In the afternoon, diners at the tiny 16-seat eatery clamor for focaccia sandwiches (everything from mortadella and mozzarella to salami and brie), pizza, panzanella salad and cannolis. There are also roasted yellow and red peppers bathed in garlic and olive oil, penne with shrimp in a vodka sauce, eggplant parm and baked meatballs.

Pizza is baked homemade every day.
While the charming Martucci handles the front of house operations, the kitchen is the domain of Guerri, who hails from Florence and has worked at Escopazzo, Mezzaluna and as a private chef. In his rustic kitchen, Guerri cranks out Tuscan specialties several days a week. On Sundays, there is porchetta, which is pork shoulder marinated in rosemary, garlic and sage and slow-cooked for six hours. Cacciucco, a typical seafood stew, is prepared on Fridays with mussels, clams, calamari, conch and scallops in a hearty tomato broth.

Mattarello's owners Max Guerri and Antonio Martucci.
The centerpiece of the kitchen is a beast of an oven, circa the 1950s, which looks like more of a museum piece than anything else. This is where the focaccia, pastries and pizza are baked daily. For those with a sweet tooth, the piece de resistance is Guerri's homemade millefoglie, which is a Napoleon-like cake with layers of pastry cream and chocolate chunks. There are also powdered donuts filled with cream or chocolate to dunk in your cappuccino. Outdoor seating is coming in April, and they also deliver locally. For the quality of the food, the prices are wallet-friendly with pastas for $7, pizza $4 a slice and the porchetta for $10. There's also a Monday night Happy Hour from 7 to 10 with affordable food and drink specials. Buon Apettito!

Homemade focaccia
Roasted yellow and red peppers.
Mattarello Bakery
1450 Washington Ave, Miami Beach

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