MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Celebrity chef Jose Mendin’s new Italian eatery Casa Isola is now open in Sunset Harbour, located in the exact space of his original Pubbelly restaurant.

“Casa Isola for me has been a very special project since it’s in the space of the old Pubbelly. Pubbelly started it all for me,” explained Mendin. “It was my first restaurant. We were giving the lease away, but I felt like I was giving away something so precious, so we decided to keep the lease and create this amazing Italian concept with Santo.”

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Brooklyn born chef Santo Agnello and Puerto Rican born chef Mendin opened Casa Isola in February.

It marks Mendin’s fifth restaurant outpost which also includes the Pubbelly spinoff, Pubbelly Sushi, right next door.

It is an intimate eatery with a European vibe both inside and out.

(CBS4)

“Inside you feel like you’re in a little Italian beach house. The patio outside reminds me a lot of when I went to Harry’s Bar in Venice. You’re going to see a lot of Aperol Spritz and nice little spreads and people eating pasta. it’s that’s kind of the feel,” he explained.

Chef Mendin says he loves to keep learning his craft and he is doing just that alongside his partner, chef Agnello.

“When you taste his food, and you see the passion, you see the true flavor of Italian home cooking. I’m just very intrigued about different cuisines and I just want to keep learning and adding to what I do every day and I just love cooking,” Mendin said.

Casa Isola’s Burrata Panzanella. (CBS4)

Back in the kitchen, chef Mendin prepares the Burrata Panzanella with Florida tomatoes, roasted peppers, olives, and rustic bread topped with a sweet and sour dressing.

CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo digs in.

“Every texture and flavor I love, because you’ve got the creaminess of the cheese, the sweet-and-sour, the crunchiness of the bread,” she described. “And the peppers give it a fun texture as well.”

Casa Isola’s Isola Vongole, or spaghetti with fresh clams. (CBS4)

Next, Petrillo tries the Isola Vongole, or spaghetti with fresh clams.

“We add little cherry tomatoes into Calabrian chili’s which makes it a little different and then top it with our breadcrumbs,” explained chef Mendin.

“So, the clams are super fresh, and they have that nice salt flavor and then the breadcrumbs are really interesting. It gives it a very different texture on top of the pasta,” said Petrillo.

Casa Isola’s Spicy Rigatoni Alla Vodka (CBS4)

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Chef Agnello’s Spicy Rigatoni Alla Vodka rivals any other you have seen or tasted before.

“It’s elegant. It’s the perfect bite,” said Petrillo.

“I have a lot of pride in that dish,” said Mendin.

“You should have a lot of pride in that dish, it’s really spectacular,” said Petrillo.

Finally, every day is Sunday at Casa Isola. The Sunday 8-hour sauce has short rib meatball, pork rib, and Italian sausage.

“This is the ultimate red sauce so you can kind of drip it over anything.” said Petrillo.

“Exactly and the meatball, the pork ribs and sausage with a little bit of the ricotta is amazing,” said chef Mendin.

Casa Isola is open Tuesday through Sunday 5pm – 11pm for dinner only.

For more info: www.casaisolamiami.com

Casa Isola’s 8-hour Sunday Sauce (CBS4)

If you would like to try the Sunday Sauce at home, here is the recipe:

Makes 1-2 Servings. *This easy recipe can incorporate your favorite store-bought ingredients.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • Tomato Sauce
  • Veal Bones
  • Pork Spareribs
  • Crushed Meatballs

Sauce Directions:

You can add to your favorite tomato sauce the veal bones, pork spareribs, and crushed meatballs. Braise for 8 hours and remove bones when ready to serve.

Pasta Dish Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Rigatoni Pasta
  • 8 oz Sunday Meat Sauce
  • 1 Italian Sausage
  • 1 Pork Sparerib
  • 1 Meatball (Can use homemade or store bought)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Pecorino Grated Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons of Ricotta Cheese
  • 3 Leaves Torn Basil

Preparation:

  1. Heat Sauce with 1 rib and 1 sausage.
  2. Add in Rigatoni.
  3. Mix until incorporated.
  4. To serve, top off with meatball; spoon sauce over the meatball and sausage; add dollop of ricotta, sprinkle pecorino, and finally garnish with basil leaves.
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Lisa Petrillo