What's the word on Hosteria Romana?
Had to chime in on this post, even though I'm now living in Los Angeles.
I used to be a regular at Hosteria Romana. My parents worked in one of the alleys off of Espanola and Hosteria opened about the same time my parents were working out of their place.
Since then (about 4 years ago) Hosteria has expanded into the cafe space next door, and a new location on Ocean Drive (which I haven't been to). Business is apparently better than ever for Hosteria and Marco (the owner).
Anyway, I make it a point to visit every time I'm in Miami. It's a great "regulars" place. If you want an amazing italian meal, then you may want to keep your eyes open, but when I lived in Miami for 18 years, I don't really recall any stand out Italian places, until Hosteria.
Back to Hosteria. If you go to the Espanola Way location, make sure Marco is there (he's the owner, the big Italian guy, quite jolly, with his shirt semi undone). If you are conversational with him, he'll be your best friend. Tell him you like cheese (which is imported from Italy almost daily) and olives and he'll hook you up. My favorite item is the gnocci alla Sophia Loren. DELICIOUS! Marco's wife runs the kitchen, and the wait staff is great (overly nice, and they all sing and hit on the women that walk by).
It's a really great place to get t know and become regulars at. I'm not sure how close you live to it, but give it a shot if you haven't tried it yet.
I am also a fan of Hosteria Romana. I'm from Broward, but if I want real Italian, in good portions, and outstanding flavors.. I will trek down to Espanola Way, and take my gang with me.
I've had the fish dishes, pasta dishes, meat dishes. I've never had a bad meal, nor any of my friends.
There isn't a more authentic, tasty, fresh Italian restaurant in the vicinity like this one.
I can't say enough good stuff about it.
It's good to hear all this positive feedback! I enjoy Espanola dining as it's ambiance provides a nice alternative to Ocean and Lincoln. The first time I went I fell in love with it! The side pasta they served was phenomenal. However, the second time I went back the side pasta wasn't the same, leading me to beleive the place was just another inconsistent sobe slop house trying hard to make a go of it with a BIG JOLLY Italian guy out front.
Everything I've heard about the Ocean Drive location(on chowhound) has been thumbs down...and it has been several years since I have gone back to the original location...with your strong validation I hope to head back soon!
After reading a number of very positive posts about Hosteria Romana on this site, I decided to take a friend there for his birthday dinner on Tuesday evening. As we approached the sidewalk cafe, a few of the waiters turned and called out "Buona Sera!" and showed us to a table. We laughed that the initial approach resembled that Saturday Night Live sketch where the too-friendly Italian waiters become so intrusive they end up licking the faces of the female patrons...
Oddly enough, that's how the rest of the night unfolded. As we started our meal, the waiters kept calling out and even heckling every passer by. In a Japanese restaurant, the wait staff sometimes calls out "Irashaimase!" to new arrivals as a single call of welcome. This was not the case. The folks working at Hosteria are like carnival barkers. It was funny at first, but then it became impossible to enjoy the meal or carry on a simple conversation. Adding to this - I swear - is a drum and cymbal kit set up just inside the door way... You guessed it - periodically during our meal, someone would grab the drumsticks and start pounding away.
Perhaps my decision to try this place on a quiet weeknight rather than a touristy weekend backfired. The waiters were idle and a little bored. Maybe the boss encourages them to create a sense of tumult to attract business. Espanola Way is a lovely setting for a restaurant, but the behavior of the staff at Hosteria gradually ruined the evening. We are young, fun people with a sense of humor and a pretty high threshold for noisy places. Trust me - this sh__t was ridiculous.
As to the food... hmmm - a solid C+. We were told there was a special appetizer of fresh mozzarella and tomato and I foolishly did not think to ask the price. I know, "Fool me once - shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on Me!..." but this was just a plate of cheese and tomato! To be clear, I was hosting the meal and wouldn't want my guest to feel that price was a factor in making his decision. I ordered the cheese plate and followed that with a simple chicken served Milanese style. The cheese and tomato salad was fresh and tasty and the chicken limp and lackluster... My friend ordered a calzone of cheese and prosciutto which was served hot from the oven but was entirely too salty to enjoy. He barely ate a quarter of the ample portion and he has a hearty appetite.
The relentless shouting and the drumming wore us out. We took most of my entree to go and then I glanced at the check only to discover that the cheese and tomato appetizer was a whopping $23 (a more costly item than anything else we ordered by FAR!) I should have asked - I know - but this is a really moderate sidewalk pizzaria kind of place... I don't really care much about the dinner check if the food is good, but a $23 salad appetizer at a pizza place (with screaming waiters) was sticker-shocking. I silently wondered if the up charge was an "entertainment fee?" Our waiter seemed surprised we were departing so quickly. I shrugged and told him we found the place, "a little loud," and he shrugged said something Italian-ish along the lines of "Boys will be Boys..." (Which readily translated to, "Noise will be Noise...")
Can any of the Chowhounds tell me what draws such praise for this place?? Is the heckling and drumming a regular feature? Why didn't anyone ever think to mention the RACKET?
In my trip report of 3/15/06 I described my experience at the Ocean Beach location as dissapointing, and wrote,"The waiters spontaneously yelling and banging utensils is obnoxious".I guess the Espanola Way branch is no better. I could not understand the positive reviews of this place, even the ones in this thread, just not my type of place.
Don't waste your time here! Besides the over priced and small portion or bland tasting food, you will find a automatic 18%-20% mandatory tip on your bill for parties under 5! Yes, MANDATORY, Don't try and change the tip because they will not remove it. Don't try to send a dish back because it was undercooked, they will blame you for it. Avoid! Avoid! Avoid!
Hosteria Romana is a complete waste of time. The food is mediocre and the prices are outrageous! I've been to several fine dining establishments that cost far less than the food that they serve here. We got upsold by the enthusiastic waiter and ended up paying $44.00 for an appetizer plate with a few cold cuts and cheese. The next course was a basic pizza margherita $15.00. The crust was burnt and when I told the waiter about it, he just giggled as if I told a funny joke and walked away. There's a mandatory 15% -18% tip so I'm sure he didn't care about the level of his service. All in all we paid $84.46 for our lunch: $7.50 for a bottle of Pellegrino; $15 for the burnt pizza; $44 for the appetizer plate; $5.99 sales tax; and $11.97 automatic gratuity. Stay away from Hosteria Romana. It's a tourist trap with bad food.
FOOD - HORRIBLE
we ordered 2 main courses and 2 horrible salads.
both salads came - with only leafs, 3 pieces of cheese, and NO DRESSING. and the price.... $15!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
$15 for a bunch of leafs and goat cheese without any dressing???? one of the salads was supposed to come with fennel, as stated on the menu. but surprise surprise... no fennel AT ALL.
SHAME ON YOU.
Service - DISGUSTING!
had to wait and ask more than 10 times for more water, and olive oil.
Servers stood behind us and looked at us eating like they're are short on plates or something. very uncomfortable to enjoy yourself and your company when the waiters just keep coming to check if you finished your food every 2 seconds.
the overly dry bread was probably recycled from other tables.
AND THE BILL including the mandatory tip? WAY TOO MUCH for this type of food and service.
never going back... and telling everyone i know not to go. even for free.......
Gotta agree...this is not a good place for Italian...and I'm Italian. Tourist trap is a more fitting label.
For very good Italian nearby try Spiga on Collins just south of 13th or Hosteria de Teatro on the corner of Espanola and Washington. Much, much better!
Further south on Washington there's La Locanda between 4th and 5th streets which is also very good.
Awful is the best word to describe the whole experience. First, review the kitchen inside and restrooms and you will run out the door. They are all very friendly to get the drink order and food order and then all downhill from that! The fat guy who cuts the meats is really "Gross" and got angry when I asked him if it was sanitary that he eat with his fingers while cutting meat for customers? They try and sink and dance basically to keep your mind off the terrible ripoff prices. Here is why they have customers - They PAY the conceirge's to SEND YOU THERE. A conceirge is the worse person to ask where to eat in South Beach as they are all on commission.