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Chef Michael Schwartz (Michael's Genuine Food & Drink) will expand his casual pizzeria concept, Harry's Pizzeria, with a location in Coconut Grove. Pizzas sport aromatic wood-oven crusts and inventive chef/ingredient-driven toppings. Harry's Pizzeria, 2996-98 McFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove, FL 33133, No phone.
With its fantastical mix of eye-popping Mexican folk art and black-and-gold luxury (a Mayan pyramid chandelier; an onyx bar), the décor of Cantina La Veinte, an indoor/outdoor riverfront restaurant in mixed-use condo Icon Brickell, is definitely, decorwise, a Hollywood-glam take on a cantina. But the modern Mexican food is the real thing --- not Tex-Mex, not old-fashioned Mexican street food favorites, but the kind of upscale trendy cuisine, mixing traditional recipes with avant-garde techniques and some international influences (mainly from Asia and Italy), that contemporary chefs in Mexico are cooking up these days. Menu highlights include a make-your-own-taco section. There’s also an onsite market/deli selling everything from Mexican grocery products to sandwiches, pastries, imported cheeses and flowers. The restaurant is the first U.S. venture of Cinbersol Group, which operates over 30 restaurant and lounges throughout Mexico including three La20 Cantinas in Mexico City. Cantina La Veinte, 495 Brickell Ave., Miami, FL 33131, 786-623-6135.
Eileen and Jon Andrade, the sister/brother team behind CubanCube food truck, have opened a brick-and-mortar replacement, Finka Table & Tap. The food at Finka (translation: farmhouse) is trendy Cuban fusion, rooted in both their Cuban immigrant family’s traditional food and their own upbringing in modern Miami, with influences from Peru and Korea. Their family owns the iconic classic Cuban diner/luncheonette Islas Canarias. Korean inspiration came from a recent trip to South Korea. Dishes range from Islas’ classic croquetas to kimchee shoestring fries with Cuban vaca frita and Peruvian pico de gallo. Though “tap” is in the eatery’s name, and both local craft beers and imported traditional brews are offered, suds are almost eclipsed by the cocktail menu from Bar Lab’s Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi (The Broken Shaker). Finka Table & Tap, 14690 SW 26th St., Miami, FL 33175, 305-227-8818.
A third outpost of young chef Sam Gorenstein’s My Ceviche has opened in South Miami. Like its predecessors, the new South Miami eatery is co-owned by Roger Duarte (of Miami-based George Stone Crab, the USA’s largest stone crab home delivery service) and features the same menu of ultra-fresh seafood ceviches, tacos/burritos, rice bowls, and, in season, stone crab, all prepared with classic French technique. A fourth location at Miami International Airport (American Airlines, Terminal D) is reportedly upcoming, as is a fifth in a space recently vacated by the Latin Burger and Taco food truck’s unsuccessful first brick-and-mortar eatery in Coral Gables. My Ceviche, 5900 SW 73rd St., South Miami, FL 33143, 305-669-5000.
From Jack Garabedian, chef/owner of Jefe’s Original Fish Taco & Burgers, Jefe’s Soul Shack, the pioneering food truck’s first non-wheeled location, is finally open. In a mini-mall near Johnson & Wales University, the California surfer-themed indoor/outdoor restaurant serves all the truck’s favorites, including authentic cheese-free Ensenada-style fish tacos plus new menu items like meal-sized salads and more elaborately topped burgers or crispy fries. The original truck continues rolling on, testing out markets for additional brick-and-mortar locations. Jefe’s Soul Shack, 12581 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami, FL 33181, 305-989-5811.
From 28 year-old realtor-turned-restaurateur Jessica Sanchez, Loba serves food reflecting both of Miami’s main historical sides, as well as its trendy present: an eclectic mix of South American and American Old South cuisines, traditional and (mostly) modernized. Sanchez largely renovated the space herself, but both the kitchen and front-of-the-house operations are a deliberate locally-oriented team effort, including Sanchez’s mom Libia (former owner of the Colombian restaurant chain Patacon), Jeziel Colon (ex-sous chef at MC Kitchen) and Jessica Hernandez (current pastry chef at Michelle Bernstein’s lunch spot Crumb on Parchment), plus several students from Florida International University’s hospitality school, which has provided the student support staff for the annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival since the event’s inception. Loba, 7420 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138, 786-536-6692.
Oostendsegarnaalkroketten? Saladegegratatineerdegeitenkaas? Those dishes aren’t something you’ll find on most menus in Miami but they’re specialties at Belgian restaurant Bistro BE. (They’re really just shrimp croquettes and a bacon-wrapped, honey-topped goat cheese gratin on salad.) The bistro also features over half-a-dozen different mussel pots, Belgium’s incomparable frites with a variety of sauces, Belgian waffles, and almost 60 beers (most Belgian, and many rare). Bistro BE, 1111 SW 1st Ave., Miami, FL 33130, 305-375-0975.
Basil Park in Sunny Isles Beach is a new and interesting health-conscious (and largely hitting the organic/fresh/local buttons) place from Tim Andriola. There are many vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and processed sugar-free options that are generally very tasty, too. Basil Park, 17608 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160, 305-705-0004.
COCHON 555 Takes Place April 19, 2015
COCHON 555 (five chefs, five pigs, five winemakers), a traveling culinary competition and tasting event, heads to Miami. Created to promote a national conversation around the sustainable farming of heritage-breed pigs, each event challenges five local chefs to prepare a menu from one 200-pound family-raised heritage breed pig, nose-to-tail. Tickets start at $125. For more information, visit cochon555.com
German-born William Crandall, a sous chef for three years at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami's top-end restaurant Azul (and who, previous to that, worked under chef Andrew Zimmerman at Chicago’s NoMi), has stepped up to the post of executive chef. Crandall’s just-introduced first menu features elegant dishes like a white almond gazpacho with yuzu merengue and nasturtium foam, utilizing classic French and avant-garde techniques with influences from Asia and continental Europe. Azul, Mandarin Oriental, Miami, 500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami, FL 33131, 305-913-8254.
Jumbo’s, an iconic soul food eatery that was a 24-hour oasis in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood since 1955, has closed. Owner Bobby Flam, who took over his family’s diner in 1967, wants to spend more time with his grandchildren. When Flam first began running Jumbo’s, few South Florida restaurants had integrated staffs or seating areas; Flam did both, becoming a Civil Rights landmark. For those already suffering fried shrimp/chicken deprivation, there’s hope: Though the property, on NW 75th Street and Seventh Avenue, has been sold to a developer (who plans to raze the building to construct a retail/residential complex on the land), Flam says he may re-open Jumbo’s in a new location.
In South Beach’s western Sunset Harbor area, PB Steak, from the Pubbelly Restaurant Group (which also operates the original Pubbelly and Pubbelly Sushi in the same neighborhood, plus Barceloneta in South Miami and L’Echon Brasserie in the Hilton Cabana Miami Beach) has folded citing the rising costs of real estate. Pubbelly is already looking for a location “over the bridge” in mainland Wynwood, midtown Miami, or elsewhere along the Biscayne Corridor where rents are more reasonable than South Beach, to re-open PB Steak. PB Steak, 1787 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach, FL, no phone.
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