The Do’s and Don’ts of Making Pesto

Riviera Focacceria - Ingredients Table

Last week, we got a lesson in making one of our favorite pasta sauces: the almighty pesto. Thanks to Riviera Focacceria Italiana in Midtown, we now know what it takes to create this delicious basil-y goodness. It took us a lot of trial and error (emphasis on error), though.

While it may seem simple — just mix basil, pine nuts, olive oil and cheese with a mortar and pestle — there’s a little more to do it than that. Here’s what we learned.

Riviera Focacceria - Basil and Salt
This is too much salt.

Do use little-to-no salt. Think you’re using a small amount of salt? Use less. We made the mistake of adding too much salt, resulting in dry mouths and a few new cases of high blood pressure. Err on the side of caution: use a little, taste your pesto and then adjust accordingly.

Do cut excess salt with pine nuts. If you already added too much salt and essentially turned your pesto into Sodom and Gomorrah, all hope is not lost. Adding more pine nuts to your pesto can help cut the saltiness. Again, moderation is key: add a few, taste and then adjust.

Riviera Focacceria - Table Grinding

Don’t make pesto on arm day. If it’s your first time making pesto with a mortar and pestle, you can expect the ultimate upper body workout. Because of all the crushing involved, your arms/shoulders may be a little sore afterward — and more so if you worked out earlier in the day. Consider making this your WOTD and avoid any arm exercises beforehand.

Don’t make it — just buy it at Riviera Focacceria Italiana. About two minutes into our lesson, we realized our relationship with pesto-making wasn’t going to work out. By the end of the lesson, our pesto was a salty mess. Thankfully, the Riviera team saved the day and made us pesto from scratch, mixing it into their amazing gnocchi. Yeah, we’ll leave it to the pros.

As you can see, this was an enlightening experience but not just because of the pesto. This fun lesson with foodie friends also reintroduced us to one of our favorite Midtown Miami restaurants. We loved Riviera Focacceria Italiana when it first opened, and we still love it now.

Aside from their great gnocchi and pesto, their namesake dish and vegetarian meatloaf are worth checking out. And if you’re gluten free, you’re in luck: There are several gluten-free options including their popular farinata, which kind of looks like a pancake and is made with chickpea flour. There’s a depth of flavor to it that sold us.

So the next time you’re at The Shops at Midtown Miami looking for good food, stop by Riviera Focacceria Italiana. Come for the gnocchi with pesto and stay for everything else.

Riviera Focacceria Italiana is located at 3252 Buena Vista Blvd. #110 in Midtown. For hours of operation and other information, visit their official website or call 786-220-6251.