By Lisa Petrillo

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There’s an Italian eatery in downtown Miami with a huge fan base of local customers because of its simple, delicious food.

Soya e Pomodoro is downtown Miami’s hidden gem just off First street  It’s Old World Italian at its best.

“This is the best eggplant I’ve ever had,” exclaimed CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo as she bit into one of the many delicious dishes served at the eatery.

Ten years ago, friends Armando Alfano and Chef Christina Doria were looking for a space that was off the crowded beach. They found a very old former bank building reminiscent of the ancient ruins from their homeland.

“The building is from 1925, when I first came and saw the building  I fell in love,” said owner Alfando. “I’m from Pompeii. For me, this was as close as it gets to Italy.”

Business started off slow at first, but it’s not slow anymore.

“Thank God,” said Alfano laughing.

The sign on the front door says it all: “Simple food made with love.”

“Just simple Italian food, the logo says, ‘Simple food made with love’ that is what Mama always says,” explained Alfano.

“Now life is so complicated and people can make it more complicated, So we try to go backwards and find simplicity,” said Chef Christian. “Nothing complicated.”

The dish that knocked Petrillo out was the Eggplant Parmigiana with baked layers of eggplant, fresh mozzarella, parmesan cheese and chef’s secret homemade tomato sauce.

“It just dissolves in your math, so delicious,” said Petrillo while enjoying her meal.

She also tasted, happily, a Papardelle pasta with shrimp and pistachio pesto. “No cream, no dairy, you don’t need it,” said Petrillo.

Soya e Pomodoro is located at 120 NE 1st Street.

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