Pirolo's Panettone

Sublime brunch at South Beach's Macchialina

After more than a year open, Macchialina co-owners Michael Pirolo and Jen Chaefsky have yielded to diners' requests for Sunday brunch.

Much like the dinner menu, chef Pirolo's new brunch dishes reflect his earnest, but not overly serious, approach to Italian cuisine. Settle into the cushy red booths for the likes of delicate citrus-cured salmon ($14) or the real showstopper, "Italian toast" ($14), which melds French toast and bread pudding.

Chef Michael Pirolo (Photo: David Samayoa)

"The problem with good panettone is it falls apart," says Pirolo. So he places slices of panettone in a loaf pan, layering the slices with custard, dried fruit and dark, nearly bitter chocolate, repeating the layering until he's created an eggy patchwork.

Pirolo layers chocolate and fruit on the panettone slices; slicing the baked bread pudding (Photo: David Samayoa)

After baking it, Pirolo is able to slice the Italian toast crossways into solid, but still fork-tender, slabs.

Right before service, the rectangles are topped with a salty kick of fried prosciutto. And then they are gone, quickly dissolved into a memory of airy, brandy-inflected bites.

The baked panettone slices, striated with chocolate and fruit. (Photo: David Samayoa)

On Sundays, Pirolo used to savor "perfect scrambled eggs" and potato hash at Tongue & Cheek's brunch. "Now I eat the Italian toast scraps," he chuckles. "It's sad, but that's what we're reduced to here."

Chef Pirolo, your sacrifice is not in vain.