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Saturday, March 29, 2008

HEARTY FOOD AT MARIO THE BAKER

Mario the Baker
13695 W Dixie Hway
North Miami, FL 33161
305 891-7641

On our recent Florida visit with friends June and Sid, we originally planned to head down to South Beach for a lively sampling of that famous sparkle, but June and Sid are newly made great-grandparents, and it had been a hectic week. So off we go to Mario the Baker, a North Miami landmark since 1969 where Italian food rules and 250-300 pizzas and 100 dozen garlic rolls are sold daily.

Mario the Baker is a big ole cavern of a place with red lacquered tables and a never-ending flow of people picking up pizzas and take-out. If you’re looking for fine dining and ambiance, Mario’s is not the place. This is a place for good, reasonably priced Italian food. The line stretches from the counter to the door. Not only is there the line but also there are virtually no empty tables in this seat-yourself restaurant. We four find one of the last ones. It doesn’t take long to discover how one place can attract such an awesome following.

Service is immediate and very friendly. We’re given a basket of tasty, doughy, warm, luscious garlic rolls. June warns us of the size of the entrees and suggests we split the entrĂ©e, order an extra salad and a side order of pasta. The salad is fresh and generous, and Rob and I understand June’s sage advice.

We share veal parmigiano. The veal is tender, and this dish is definitely big enough for two! Remember those old TV commercials: “Mangia, Anthony!”? This meal is an authentic Italian feast. The pasta and sauce are exactly as they should be.

Through it all there is good conversation and catching up—an integral part of the good-natured atmosphere.

Mario’s is very busy, and that may account for the fact that our waitress neglects to offer coffee or dessert. No room for dessert anyway, but perhaps a cup of coffee….

Sid tells us that this Mario the Baker spun off several others—now numbering 11 in south Florida, but this one is known as THE ORIGINAL. If you’re in the area, it would be well worth your while to look up Mario. This is good, substantial, homestyle Italian food. Mangia.

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