By Mitchell Nover
Jack’s Miami (2426 NE 2nd Avenue) is a new homestyle Italian restaurant…and not just because it’s in a refurbished house. Inspired by traditional Sunday dinners, Jack’s features home style Italian cooking and a throwback to that classic “red sauce” style of Italian-American cuisine that has been replaced by more modern interpretations in recent years.
Menu highlights: The Jack’s menu is by no means fancy, but it is definitely tasty. To start, Nonna’s Homemade Meatball is a monster of an appetizer (because it’s HUGE), served smothered with Sunday gravy and a side of grilled Tuscan bread.
If you’re into Fried Calamari, this classic rendition won’t disappoint, but, for me, it wasn’t as inspired as the meatball. On the other hand, the Sautéed Mushrooms were a surprise and delight, despite the simplicity that the menu description suggests.
On the dessert side, you can never go wrong with a Cannoli, especially if it’s home made. I love the smooth tang of the ricotta cheese filling and its contrast against the sweet chocolate chips and crispy shell. The 7-Layer Chocolate Cake is also as divine as it is decadent, but be prepared to be pushed over the edge of fullness after a few bites.
Standout dish: The true standouts of my Jack’s meal were in the pasta and entree courses. The Linguini with Clam Sauce Single offered up perfectly al dente pasta as a vehicle for the beautifully briny clams that swam in a garlic and white wine sauce. Pro tip: order and share a single portion to save room for an entree. Namely, the Chicken Parmesan. Normally, I’m a veal parm guy, but this chicken version was one of the best I’ve ever had and I gladly took some home to enjoy for lunch the following day (yet another upside to the oversized portions at Jack’s).
Are we boozing? Although Jack’s does offer a full bar, I personally wouldn’t waste the stomach space (or calories) on cocktails. The food is too good. That said, a nice glass of Italian red wine makes a mighty good pairing, if you’re so inclined.
Check this place out if you like: Macchialina. While Chef Michael Pirolo’s spot on South Beach is a far more creative than Jack’s, the flavors are very much inspired by traditional Italian-American cooking that are enhanced by the restaurant’s laid back, comfy, gastropub-esque atmosphere.
Mitch’s take: Jack’s offers is good, old fashioned, stick-to-your bones, unabashedly Italian-American comfort food, and I’m digging it. It’s not frilly or modern or gaudy or complicated. It’s just Jack’s, and it’s darn good.