When the iconic Palace Bar on Ocean Drive closed for relocation in July 2017, gay South Beach locals were left with a huge void in food and entertainment options. Former palace bartender, Ray Oh, saw an opportunity with an existing restaurant, Molto, and took over the day-to-day operations as the general manager. Work began immediately to transform the little pizza joint into the new place to see and be seen for both LGBTQ locals and tourists alike. The outcome…well if “Cheers” and “Coyote Ugly” had a queer lovechild, it would be Molto!

Located one block west off the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall is this hidden gem. The rustic decor is very stylish and sophisticated, with a huge bar taking up most of the modern space. During afternoons and early evenings, Molto is a perfect place to stop by for Happy Hour and grab some food and drinks and mingle with the hot clientele. But hang around, because later in the evening, things get cranked up with live DJs, drag shows, hot shirtless bartenders and queens dancing on the bar-top!

Molto serves traditional Italian comfort food and does it really well. Their menu consists of all the expected Italian appetizers like fried calamari, cheese sticks and meat balls but also throws in some other delights like tuna carpaccio and baba ganoush. A huge variety of hand tossed pizza is sure to tempt anyone to abandon their low-carb South Beach Diet for the evening.

The menu continues with a selection of fresh, delicious salads and an assortment of hardy entrées fit for a Queen, including numerous authentic pasta dishes like Nonna used to make. Chicken Parmesan and a ribeye and a New York strip steak round out the menu.

I’ve been to Molto many times and the food, service and drinks are always on point. On this particular visit, “dragtender” and South Beach diva, Noel Leon, served me at the bar. I ordered the Caprese appetizer which gives a modern twist to the classic Caprese tomato and mozzarella salad.  Their version is served with prosciutto and decadent Buratta cheese…amazing! Next, I moved on to Molto’s meat lovers pizza. A thin, crispy crust is topped with bacon, prosciutto, pepperoni and ground beef. How they put all of that on a pizza and it doesn’t turn out greasy is beyond me…Perfecto!  The portions are huge and the prices are in line with most restaurants offering this type of fare.

Molto opens early for lunch every day and stays open late into the evening, but the hours vary daily.  While you enjoy the food and hand crafted cocktails, you will also be entertained by revolving DJs, drag shows performed by some of South Florida’s best entertainers and viewing parties of gay TV. Check their website or Facebook page for exact hours and daily events. Convenient on street parking right in front of the restaurant is available as well as a huge pay parking lot directly behind the building. Parking is not a challenge here!

Molto South Beach is located at 1237 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Florida.  Their phone number is 305-397-8062.  For further information, visit them online at moltosouthbeach.com or facebook.com/moltosouthbeach.