While chatting with my niece who resides in South Florida she said I should come to Miami for a visit. Since I was already scheduled to be on vacation I decided to hop in the car and head south for a day or two. She recently moved to Miami and is not familiar with too many restaurants in the area, she said she was looking for food that reminds her of home. Our cousin who resides in Boca Raton told us about a place in South Beach called Hosteria Romana, which as their tagline states “Where Italians go for Italian.” The restaurant itself is located on Espanola Way in South Beach, in a very busy tourist area. The street is closed to vehicles and is decorated like a Mediterranean village. There are many restaurants and bars on the street and all seemed to be just as busy. Hosteria Romana is in a prime location in the center of the street, although there are two empty store fronts directly across the street signs show there are new businesses moving in.
Being that it was a Monday night at around 8:30 pm we figured the restaurant would be pretty empty. We were wrong, the place was busy and there was a wait for both inside and al fresco seating. As we walked up to the hostess stand we were greeted by a very pleasant young lady who told us it would be just a little while for a table. We were very surprised that our wait was only about 5 minutes. We were seated in the outdoor or al fresco seating area which runs along the entire front of the restaurant. The location of our seat was to the left of the hostess stand, with a full view of Espanola Way and the inside of the restaurant. The outdoor area is an array of tables with umbrellas to shade you during the day in the Miami heat. The decor inside was reminiscent of something you would see in Little Italy in New York with curing meats and cheeses hanging from the cucina (kitchen) area. I have never been to Italy so I can not compare but I would guess it was researched and made to look like an Old World Cucina. There was traditional Italian music playing oth inside and out, the waiters would also gather periodically to join in singing and dancing to the song, there was even some added cowbell which got the patrons involved.
Our waiter (#717, Andrea) immediately greeted us with his thick Italian accent and asked us if we would like to order a drink or if he could start us with an antipasti. Our drinks were delivered very quickly as well as a basket of warm crusty Italian bread with 3 different dipping sauces. We decided to order the pizza Margherita pomidoro e mozzarella ($17.00) which is a traditional cheese pizza with a hint of fresh basil and halves of San Marzano tomatoes baked in a wood oven. While enjoying our appetizer we noticed a cart with a whole prosciutto, the gentlemen was going to various tables and slicing very thin slices of this traditional Italian cured meat. We were fortunate to have the table next to us order this item so we had a front row seat in watching the expert slicing and plating. I understand there are several different price levels depending on what accompaniments and meats you order with it and from what I heard from the table next to us is that it was worth every penny. Keep in mind if you order this item that you ask for a specific item or have them tell you the price beforehand because the pricing ranges from $18-$42.00. The menu itself had a wonderful assortment of dishes that I could picture my Nona cooking in her kitchen and sharing with our family. There were dishes for vegetarians, seafood lovers as well as poultry and various meats. There were three of us dining so we tried a couple of different things and decided to eat family style. For our dinner we enjoyed a traditional pasta of Spahettie A’Sporacciona ($19.00) which is spaghetti with garlic, oil, basil, crushed red pepper flakes and San Marzano tomatoes. In addition we enjoyed the Pollo Francese ($25.00), chicken filet dipped in flour and egg topped with mushrooms in a lemon and white wine sauce, this was served with a vegetable medley of roasted potato, baby carrot, baby zucchini, green onion and broccoli rabe. After the meal our waiter offered dessert and/or coffee, we declined as we were too full and had plenty of leftovers.
The pricing is higher than your typical chain restaurant, the quality of the food was good. You have to go with the understanding that you are in a very high tourist area and pricing is right on target for the area. The ambience more than made up for the higher than average prices. All in all I would recommend this restaurant for a special occasion and I would highly recommend eating al fresco so you can enjoy the foot traffic on Espanola Way.