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La Centrale, Miami's first Italian food hall, will open on Feb. 16

Loosen those belts, South Florida: Pasta, pizza and imported wine highlight the bill of fare at Miami food hall La Centrale, a three-story homage to Italian cuisine will open Friday, Feb. 16, at Brickell City Centre.

The 40,400-square-foot food hall (pronounced “Lah-chen-TRAL-ay”) is the brainchild of restaurateur Jacopo Giustiniani and hospitality industry vet Matthias Kiehm, managing partners who draw inspiration from food halls and markets around the globe.

Why Miami? The city is a culinary boomtown, says Kiehm, whose bona fides include operating the high-end Harrods food hall in London. Food halls are also hot in South Florida, with the region set to have several within the next few months, he says.

“Miami is a true urban success story,” Kiehm says. “The city has evolved significantly over the past few years, and with the future high-speed-rail system and new museums, it feels like a perfect fit.”

New York and Chicago natives may liken La Centrale to Mario Batali’s multilevel Eataly food halls, but Kiehm says the space is less a marketplace of closely packed eateries than a one-stop bundling of everything Italian, from design to dessert.

Each restaurant will represent 20 regions in Italy: Floor one will carry a 5,000-square-foot Mercato (or market) that’s inspired by Italy’s piazzas and stocked with specialty goods such as imported olive oil, pastries and pasta. The ground-floor space, decorated with wooden tables and terra-cotta tiles, will also feature the rustic, fast-casual pizzeria Pizza E Pasta and the Sicilian-inspired Caffé.

“When you go into one of our restaurants, you can eat the food here, then buy the same ingredients in the market downstairs,” says Kiehm, whose partner Giustiniani founded the New York Italian restaurant Felice. “You can try to re-create the dish yourself.”

The second floor, meanwhile, will hold three sit-down restaurants — the seafood-themed Pesce, the meat-dominant Carne and the vegetarian Stagionale — along with the Aperitivo Bar framed in olive trees and Venchi, a chocolate and gelato shop. Floor three will feature the Tuscan-inspired wine cellar Enoteca, stocked with 4,000 wines. There’s also a tasting room, a cooking school and private event spaces.

“We call it retail theater,” Kiehm says. “It can’t just be a modified food court. It ought to be an experience, evoking emotions, which you can’t get at other food halls.”

Kiehm says there are “a few more inspections” preventing the opening of La Centrale, which is 95 percent built.

Italian food hall La Centrale will open Friday, Feb. 16, at Brickell City Centre, 701 S. Miami Ave., in Miami. Admission is free. Go to LaCentraleMiami.com.

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