Without a doubt, Miami has an overwhelming variety of choices when it comes to restaurants. Whichever way you look there are at least two places that serve food. With that being said, the quantity does not always translate into quality.
In this sea of restaurants, it is often hard to find an authentic, unique, friendly place that not only makes you comfortable, but that also serves food you’ll be telling all your friends about. Once in a while, you stumble upon the one that will make you so happy you’ll want to burst from excitement. And that’s how I felt one day when I discovered Baccano restaurant while visiting Wynwood.
This place made me feel very welcome and warm. The food was absolutely amazing. And how can it not be? Both of the owners grew up in Italy in families that have ties to serving real, authentic Italian food since the late 1800s. Antonio and Alessandro, the owners of Baccano, were kind enough to share their story.
SFL: Can you tell us a little about your background and how you ended up having a restaurant?
Antonio: I was born in New York. However, I also grew up in Tuscany, in Montalcino, which is a little town, the heart of winemaking in Italy. In this town there was a very old café which belonged to Alessandro’s parents. Since 1888 it was the place to go to every morning for the best cappuccino and cornetto, which is like a croissant. And my family also has been producing wine in Italy for a long time. So we both grew up in Italy and since childhood we always had been around food and food making, and not just any food – the real, Italian cuisine.
Years later, all grown up and now living in Miami, Antonio is looking to open up his first restaurant, but he really likes to have someone on his side who has expertise in the restaurant business. And that’s when he accidently runs into Alessandro’s father, right here on South Beach, whom he had only seen in Tuscany. Both start talking and Antonio learns that Alessandro is also looking to open a restaurant here in Miami.
Antonio: So we get together, and we talk about the plan. And we realize that it’s something that we have to do because it seems meant to be. In fact, here we are, and the restaurant is open, and we’re doing well, and we’re making some nice Neapolitan pizza and sharing our love of Italian food with the Miami crowd.
SFL: Why did you decide to open a restaurant here in Wynwood?
Antonio: I’ve been living in this neighborhood, in Wynwood, since 2010 when I was still in college. And I’ve been seeing this neighborhood grow, and I’ve been a part of its growth. So I wanted to invest in it.
Antonio and Alessandro rented a place which used to be an old garage. They “built” their restaurant with their own hands.
SFL: You have such an interesting logo; can you tell us about it?
Antonio: My father is a rather famous Italian artist from ‘80s New York. He’s the one who designed the sculpture. The logo comes from that sculpture. I put the hat on him, which is not necessarily approved. And then I took the picture, and I played around with it in Photoshop in order to get the current logo. I chose that because I needed an icon and a mascot for the restaurant. I’ve had this sculpture for a long time, and it’s been everybody’s favorite thing to take pictures with. He draws a lot of attention. And he’s almost like a living thing. So it was a natural choice for being the logo and mascot of the restaurant and also ties in to the name because he’s a mythological figure. And Baccano comes from Bacchus, the God of wine. So he’s like the father of mankind, the father of wine and everything else.
SFL: What is your secret for having people come back over and over again?
Antonio: The good thing of the restaurant business is you’re growing something. It’s like a baby. You’re growing something, and you see it progress. And you also see all the new people come in and say, “Oh, I love this place. I like what you’ve created. I like the food. I want to come back. I want to share this with my family. I want to share this with my friends.” You create something that people enjoy.
For Italians who live in Miami area, Baccano is like a slice of home. A visit to Baccano to them is like taking a small trip back to Italy.
Alessandro: People always say it seems like it’s not in America but like home.
Antonio: The food does its part because good food, in our case, good pizza, and also the products that we choose are ones that you can’t necessarily find in another place. And the Pecorino cheese is the one that you can really only find in Tuscany. So the ingredients are a big part of it, the way that it’s cooked. But also, we treat our customers like friends.
SFL: What are your specialty dishes?
Antonio: I would say the Rucolosa and the buffalo margarita. We have very special smoked mozzarella imported from Italy, which gives a very nice flavor to the pizza that I think is very hard to find in other places. We really try to bring in things that are hard to find in other places.
SFL: Have any celebrities been to your restaurant?
Antonio: Shepard Fairey, who is OBEY and probably the most famous street artist besides Banksy, was one of the first customers in the restaurant. And then after that, we’ve had quite a few artists because this is Wynwood, in the center of art district. And we also had Romero Britto a few times, whose office is down the street. And we also had Tokimonsta, who’s a DJ. She’s a well-known DJ.
Alessandro: Soccer players from Italy.
SFL: How do you measure the success of your restaurant?
Antonio: The success of the restaurant can be seen, firstly, by people’s reaction to it. And you can see when somebody is genuinely excited to have found the place. Then they share with their friends. You see that they come back and they bring more people. And then those people bring more people. Then you start hearing other people saying, “Oh, I heard somebody else talk about your place, with somebody else in this other place.” You see that the word starts spreading, “In Miami, when you want a really good pizza, you go to Baccano.” And I’ve heard people say that. And I’ve heard people say that they’ve heard people say that. So I know at least from that perspective that the word has spread that it’s a good pizza place in Miami. And I think that’s the main goal.
SFL: What advice would you give to someone who wants to open a new restaurant?
Antonio: I would say be creative, be consistent, and keep it simple. Some of those things seem contradictory. But if you can manage to find a balance in those things, I think you’ll have a successful business. Also, you need to choose the location properly.
SFL: What are your future plans?
Antonio: We want to grow the Baccano brand. Open a few more restaurants here in Miami.
SFL: Name a few places in Miami you like to go and eat?
Alessandro: There’s a small café in Ocean Drive called Pinocchio, meeting point for Italian people. Everybody goes there. We always go there for the Italian breakfast.
Antonio: It’s normally sushi or some Mediterranean or other type of cuisine or Peruvian cuisine I’ve been really eating a lot lately. But also, we like trying new places too, more specifically in the area. Recently, I’ve been going to GKB, which is just down the street, which is a Peruvian-style place. Drunken Dragon on the beach is another one to go to. It’s a Korean barbecue place. And lots of fish because we’re in Miami, so fresh fish is #1. And for that, Casablanca on the river I like a lot.