Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mama Mia

Authentic Italian cuisine is just down the street in Weston, at Bellini Italian Bistro

If you spend any time with Matteo Migliorini, Italian-born execu-tive chef and co-owner of Bellini Italian Bistro in Weston, you’ll hear the phrase “Mama mia!” naturally roll off his tongue—refer ring to South Florida traffic, to what passes as “authentic” Italian cuisine, and really anything else that prompts astonishment. Born near Stresa, a picturesque town on Lake Maggiore closeby the Italian alps, Chef Migliorini began his culinary studies at age 14 in the prestigious E. Maggia cooking school and has spent the rest of his life crisscross-ing the globe and honing his skills at hotspots such as London’s famed members-only Harry’s Bar.London proved too cold and rainy for him, so Migliorini packed up his kitchen knives and headed to Florida.

It was during a stint at Miami Beach’s Bice restaurant that he met Diego Ucciferri and the two decided to realize their dream and open Bellini Italian Bistro, first on Miami Beach and now, their newest, in Weston.
Since 2012, Bellini has generated a loyal following in Weston for the classic Italian cuisine Chef Migliorini has perfected for the last 35 years: tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and prosciutto direct from his homeland; housemade pizza dough that rises for two days; freshly made pappardelle, fettuccine, gnocchi and ravioli, and weekly specials that have a cult following among the locals.

Weston residents Aldo and Vicki Bartolone say they visit at least a few times a month for the “superb cuisine that’s Michelin Five Star at least,” raves Mr. Bartolone, who grew up on Italian fare and travels to Italy often. “We’re pretty finicky about food, and this is absolutely the best and most authentic.” His favorite dishes include the appetizer of Polipo Grigliato con Sedano ed Olive (grilled octopus served with black olives, celery, extra virgin olive oil and lemon) and the Linguine Frutti di Mare (linguini with shrimp, mussels, scallops, calamari, clams, garlic and tomato sauce).The robust menu is extensive and broken into sections by antipasti, insalate, pizza, pasta, main courses and dessert making it easy to navigate.


Nevertheless, keep your ears open for daily specials, which are so popular that our lovely server, Esther, told us locals will call ahead and inquire if certain ones are on the menu that night. Favorites include pappardelle with braised short ribs, homemade black squid-ink linguine served with fresh tomatoes, white wine, Italian parsley and prawns, braised veal osso bucco, fettuccine with duck ragout, rack of lamb with rosemary demiglace, swordfish with parsley, lemon, shallots and extra virgin olive oil, a 14-ounce ribeye with peppercorn sauce and roasted sweet potatoes, and a mouthwatering zucchini flower appetizer, made tempura-style and stuffed with ricotta cheese, anchovies, basil, fresh pepper, Parmesan cream cheese and Prosciutto di Parma.

The selection of daily specials is hard to beat; however, there are sev-eral menu standouts that deserve to be mentioned, including the simple yet delectable appetizers of prosciutto with melon and fresh mozzarella ($12); Polpette (meatballs in tomato sauce with ricotta cheese) ($9), and the Saute di Cozze, sautéed mussels with choice of white wine or red sauce ($12). Don’t miss the Tonno Bellini, a blackened tuna served with cannellini beans, avocado, cherry tomato, onion and spicy mayo ($32). Once a daily special, Chef Migliorini added it to the menu by popular demand, and it is exquisite.

Though it may be difficult, save room for dessert, especially the Nutella Pizza, a 10-inch “pie” made in the restaurant’s wood oven, covered in Nutella and topped with powdered sugar and strawberries upon request ($10), and the lighter-than-air Panna Cotta con Fragole, served with fresh strawberries ($8).
Everything that comes out of Bellini’s lively kitchen speaks to Executive Chef Migliorini’s Italian heritage and passion for flavorful, authentic cuisine. “I create classic cuisine using fresh ingredients and a-la-minute preparation,” he says, “nothing is ever pre-cooked.”

Bellini Italian Bistro is located at 2780 Weston Road, Weston, and is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Visit belliniweston.com for the full menu; for reservations, call 954-306-0781.