With the modest apperance of the Coral Way/ Roads area, it is easy to not realize how many great restaurants there are, hiding behind inconspicuous signs and lurking within delapidated facades. I began to open the treasure chest of great restaurants in this area, when I first began working at a former job there. If I wanted a fresh and delicious cuban coffee and pastelito, I just had to cross the street to Karlo Bakery. A quick and healthy lunch - Salad & Co. Fresh pasta and sauces made on site, for a quick-fix dinner - Il Mundo di Pasta. The list goes on and on...
In particular, Fresco California Bistro was always a hot spot for lunch among the Coral Way and Brickell crowd, and I went there often with friends and coworkers. I usually got a salad - and never got bored of my options. I also sampled the pasta a few times, and found the plates to be light yet, completely satisfying. Like its neighbors, it also is obscure in its surrpoundings, and can be difficult to find. It is easy to pass by without so much a glance, and never realize that it is even there.
I had always wanted to try Fresco for dinner, but never got around to it. However, that changed when Marcela and I headed there last Thursday. We got what we were expecting -- and then some. Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of the restaurant is that they bake their bread daily, and serve it with a fantastic olive tapenade. Some people think of the bread that a restaurant serves, as just a basket full of carbs. Not me. I like to think of the bread as a refelction of the restaurant itself. It is the first offering that is presented to a diner and should have the intention to impress. Fresco definitely delivers in that department.
The menu is somewhat large, and offers mainly Italian, American and Mexican fare, with a Californian twist at an affordable price. I have almost always gotten a salad while having lunch, so I decided to mix things up a bit. I orederd chicken picatta. With my main course, I was offered a choice of pasta (olive oil & garlic, marinara or a la vodka sauces) or french fries. I chose the pasta with olive oil and garlic. I didn't want anything to over-power the picatta sauce. This proved to be a smart decision, as it was a perfect verison of the classic. It was salty and tangy, while not being overly so. I tasted the lemon, capers and white wine seperately and together, as a perfectly balanced blend. The three or four cutlets that swam in the sauce were thin, and as a result, very tender.
Marcela ordered a quesadilla, that I have to ashamedly admit, I did not sample. But her reviews were equally as kind. She also mentioned that she liked the unexpected and welcomed "spicy kick" from the quesadilla's filling. Although our dishes were quite different, we both agreed that it is a rarity to order plates of different ethnicities in one restaurant, and be equally impressed.
My Dad often teases my Mom for "ordering the Chinese dish in the Italian restaurant," or never ordering the house specialty, like chicken in a seafood joint. For this, she is often disappointed, or at least underwhelmed. In this case, however, it would have been a more-than-safe choice. At Freco California Bistro, you can expect a good meal, no matter what cuisine it belongs to, in a laid back and relaxed setting.
Fresco California Bistro
744 SW 3rd Ave
Miami, FL 33129