Forget Brickell for fine dining, the new Trattoria Blu is the real deal and it’s in Palmetto Bay. From the moment you enter, you know this is a foodie’s restaurant. Exceptional, not snooty. The long rectangle-shaped eatery with high ceilings adorned with floating pallets, modern art elements and industrial hanging lights sets the mood, as does the live guitar music. The smiling staffers rush to greet people even before they cross the threshold.
Food-wise, there is so much that can be said. The menu has a wide selection of dishes, blending Italian with hints of Portugal, France, Spain, Peru, Colombia and Brazil taste and style. But the statement that says it all was what owner Antonio Dasso Chopitea told me with fervor, “We are not here for the money. We are here for the passion of food!” Every moment of your experience at Trattoria Blu enforces that statement.
With a soft opening in late March, Trattoria Blu has quickly become a local favorite, with some patrons coming back regularly. “We’ve made a lot of friends already, at the neighboring car dealerships and professional offices,” explains Antonio. "We are loving Palmetto Bay and appreciate our patrons who are not tourists. They are not ‘Mickey Mousers’… they are real locals. And we are not a ‘Mickey Mouse’ operation. We are serious about our food. It’s a perfect match.”
Although facing US-1 on a sliver of land, Trattoria Blu has outdoor seating framed with greenery that serves as their garden. Basil, mint and other adornments are picked fresh daily for the kitchen. What doesn’t come from their garden is all proudly locally-sourced. All the pasta and meals are made fresh. With the breads and pastas prevalent on the menu, only the best flour(0/0 ultra fine, direct from Italy) is used. More impressive is that Trattoria Blu utilizes a two-chef kitchen. One is for the majority of the menu and the other specializes in wood-fired pizzas.
Direct from Napoli, Italy, Pasquale is the pizza chef. For the past 12 years, he has done nothing but perfect his craft in making artisan Neapolitan pizza. He prides himself in creating unique pizzas every time.
It is he that brought the “black pizza” concept (adding black charcoal to the dough) to Trattoria Blu. I must tell you that the taste is amazing, especially with all the fresh garden ingredients on top.
Mairim Rodrigues is the head chef and is excited to be able to take her Italian training to the next level, fusing it with so many other styles. “The freedom to experiment every day is inspiring,” explains Mairim. Antonio adds, “This is like our own laboratory.
We try different things, including our use of black charcoal which is good for your health and gives our food a special look.” With 20 entrees on the menu, you’d think that would be enough, but there are daily changes and they will gladly accommodate any special requests.
“We start to cook only when the order comes in. Nothing is reheated. So, you spend a little more time waiting for the fresh plate to come to the table, but that is the joy of our restaurant,” explains Antonio. “I don’t want to settle for A-minus or B-plus, everything here must be A+.” And from the sampling of six dishes, I can tell you it is. I highly recommend the open lasagna.
Entrée prices range from $13 to $22. There are also kids’ menu options. Trattoria Blu has a full range of draft beer and wines at affordable prices. You’ll feel like you are getting a good value for everything, including great desserts.
The name Trattoria Blu comes from Antonio’s dog Azul, which of course is blue in Italian. A modern art piece adorns the back wall of the restaurant in Azul’s honor. There are also hints of blue light peeking out of several parts of the dining room.
So much of the restaurant seems emanate from the aura of owner Antonio Dasso Chopitea. With 32 years of experience in the restaurant business and opening eateries in many parts of the world he shares a unique perspective, “We have a lot of fun in the restaurant and everyone loves to do what they do, but (he said with a smile), I break everyone’s balls too!”
Trattoria Blu is located at 17225 S. Dixie Hwy. For hours and information call 305-964-7114 or visit the website at trattoria-blu.com. I’d recommend dining in for the complete gastronomic experience, but they also proudly offer food delivery and take-out.