MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Day after day, night after night–for 25 years–Coral Gables restaurateur and local personality Nino Pernetti has greeted guests in his iconic restaurant called Caffe Abbracci.

For many foodies, “Nino,” a father of two, is a household name.

“When I opened up, South Beach didn’t exist. There was not this invasion of restaurants in Miami. This was the restaurant,” said Pernetti. “This is like a club, it’s like family. People come day after day. They come two to three times a week to eat.”

What they find is classic Italian dishes served fresh, friendly and authentic.

“What we prepare is comfort food, I don’t want to be fancy,” said Pernetti. “Natural simple comfort food. It tastes good.”

Not fancy but famous and the famous come to Abbracci as well.

Click here to watch Lisa Petrillo’s report. 

“We’ve had President Clinton here, President Bush, many vice presidents, The Speaker of the House,” said Pernetti. “Stars like DeNiro, Pacino  Paul Newman, Madonna and Stallone.”

Yes, times have changed but Nino Pernetti  has only changed with the times–and on his terms.

“Every four years I change the décor. I change the lights, everything because a restaurant has personality, it has to change.”

Most of his staff, like Executive Chef Mauro, have been at Caffé Abbracci since day one.

The first dish Chef Mauro prepared was Pasta Tatiana, named after Nino’s daughter.  It’s fiocchi, made with stewed pears and asiago cheese.

There’s a sweet of the pear and salty with the cheese and the sauce.

“Pasta is the joy of life and this is seafood pasta with linguine” said Pernetti.

The pasta was filled with calamari, shrimp, muscles, fish: treasures of the sea.

Next was Branzino marinated in orange juice

“The orange juice gives it a tangy feel and the meat is so soft and subtle” said Petrillo.

For dessert, Café Abbracci’s Napolean is simply divine.

For more information on this Coral Gables staple, visit

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