Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Miami's Best Restaurants - Tiers of Excellence

Summer is almost here so it is time to update the Tiers of Excellence and recognize the restaurants in town that are turning out great food on a daily basis.  Ranking the best is becoming difficult due to the influx of quality restaurants in town.  Unfortunately, one of my favorites who were really doing things right is no longer with us. SUSTAIN will be missed.


The following tiers feature the best restaurants in Miami.  They are ranked alphabetically within each tier.
Every restaurant ranked is worth visiting.

TIER ONE - The best of the best in Miami. Run don't walk to these must do's.

Bourbon Steak- As I've said before, this is MUCH more than a steakhouse. Chef Fenton is the most underrated chef in town. His specials are always awesome. Best service, cocktails and wine list in town to boot.

Edge Steak and Bar- This newcomer to the scene is cranking out some of the best all around cuisine in town. Chef Brooks and chef King are the real deal.  Go!

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink- It's all about the food and chef Schwartz and crew are always tweaking the menu. Their daily specials keep things interesting for regulars. Don't miss dessert, lunch or Sunday brunch.

Michy's- My favorite chef in town always delivers a first class meal. Must do for tourists and locals. 

Naoe- Recently reopened at their new spot on Brickell Key.  I haven't been to the new location yet but I'm confidant that they haven't skipped a beat. Great bento box followed by mind and wallet blowing sushi.


db Bistro Moderne- One word-Boulud.  

Makoto- Sushi is up there with Naoe.  Non sushi items are great too.

NeMesis Urban Bistro-Chef Micah's world travels on full display. Funky place with outstanding food. Sit back and enjoy the journey.  

The Dutch- Chef Carmellini and crew are cranking out some of the best food on the beach.

Tudor House - Chef DeRosa kills comfort food (meatballs, burgers, pork belly Cuban) and fine dining (truffle dinner) Exacta box!

Red Light- Tier one caliber food. Slow/quirky service and hours only drawback. Go with an open mind and let Kris blow you away. 


Azul - Bumped down two tiers due to the recent departure of chef Joel Huff.  His number 2 and 3 are manning the kitchen now so I suspect they are still turning out great food.  Tier three until I return to confirm.

Juvia- Chef Oh's raw fish offerings coupled with dynamite views makes Juvia tier worthy and a must visit.

Macaluso's- Best meatballs in Miami and not even close. Everything else is great too.

Pubbelly- Fun menu and fun place. Perfect combination for South Beach.

Salumeria 104- Chef Massarin is cranking out some of the best pasta in Miami. His daily special board delivers some real treats for food lovers, tripe, cuttlefish, and braised rabbit.   

Sushi Deli- Special place for sushi fans. Casual with limited seating plus they close early so check times.
Yakko-San- Go with a group and order away.  Look for daily specials, (hamachi kama is a must order) pass on new sushi options.


Altamare- Great service and consistently good food. Best on Lincoln Road.  

Area 31- Don't let the worst valet in Miami deter you from paying a visit. Chef Reidt has skills.

Chef Philip Ho - Newly opened spot in Sunny Isles featuring outstanding dim sum from former Setai dumpling chef. Push cart service during weekend brunch. Non dim sum items are great too. 

Sra. Martinez- Great cocktails, great food and a great setting. 

Sugarcane Raw Bar- Deceiving name with ambitious menu and a great chef that delivers the goods. Lively scene.


Ni. Do. Caffe- Newcomer to MiMo. Great neighborhood spot serving authentic Italian food. Great house-made mozzarellas and pastas. 

Toscano Divino Only one visit but was impressed. Mary Brickell needs a legit restaurant this could be it.

The Casual Tier- Counter service and/or on the casual side.

Blue Collar- Grab a burger or the big ragout sandwich along with the pork and beans. Killer secret menu item, The Chowfather burger.

Crumb on Parchment- Chef Michy's delicious breakfast/lunch only spot in the Design District. They've turned their daily specials up a notch recently. Don't miss Mrs. Bernstein's cakes.

Harry's Pizza- Enjoy this place more after every visit.  Cool casual spot in the Design District. Perfect pre Marlins game stop for those traveling from north of the stadium. 

Josh's Deli- Pastrami on rye is the play.  

Kings County Pizza- Best NY slice in Miami. Sicilian and grandma pies even better.  Don't miss the baked ziti.

Sakaya Kitchen- Don't be fooled by this fast food-esque place. Food is addictive so be careful.

Shake Shack- Shack burger is so freakin good.

TO EAT TIER- Places that I suspect are tier worthy but I unfortunately have not tried.

Tuyo, Zuma, Setai, 1500 Degrees, Estiatorio Milos, J & G Grill, The Federal & Eating House(pop up)

COMING SOON- The Bazzar by Jose Andres (SLS Hotel), Katsuya (SLS Miami).

What is your top 10?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cigar City Beer & High West Rye BBQ Dinner @ Edge Steak & Bar 5/29/12

EDGE Steak & Bar | Miami

I've attended two of the monthly dinner series hosted by chef Aaron Brooks chef James King at Edge Steak & Bar and highly recommend going.  It's fantastic food, a fantastic deal and a fantastic time.  On a side note, The High West ryes are fantastic too.  The Cigar City beers aren't too shabby either.   Edge is one of the best restaurants in Miami and this is going to kick ass.

Specialty Dinner Night at Edge, Steak & Bar Continues with Beer and Whiskey BBQ 

Edge, Steak & Bar, the progressive steakhouse at the Four Seasons Miami, is pleased to announce their next Specialty Dinner Night will take place on Tuesday, May 29 at 7:00 p.m.

Organized by executive chef Aaron Brooks and restaurant chef James King, the interactive dining experience will include craft beers by Cigar City Beers and High West Whiskeys

Hickory Smoked Salmon, American Caviar, Cornflakes, Green Onion Puree
Cigar City Saizon Beer and High West Silver Rye

BBQ'd La Belle Farms Duck, Foie Gras Griddle Cake, Huckleberry BBQ Sauce, Brussels Sprout Slaw
Cigar City Red Ale and High West Rendezvous Rye

Lamb Sausage, Grilled Black Kale, Greek Yoghurt, Meyer Lemon Marmalade
Cigar City Jai Lai and High West Son of Bourye

'The Bambino' - Creekstone Farms Thick Cut Porterhouse, Oxtail Baked Beans, Smoked Mash Potato, Sweet Corn Spoon Bread, Chow Chow and Bread & Butter Pickles
Cigar City Madura and High West Double Rye

Warm Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Manhattan Jello Shots, Doughnut Milkshakes
Cigar City Black Lager and High West 21 year Rocky Mountain

The dinner is priced at $79 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Seats are limited, reservations required. Future dinners will take place the last Tuesday of every month with themes announced in advance.
Edge, Steak & Bar is located at 1435 Brickell Avenue on the 7th floor of Four Seasons Hotel Miami, and serves dinner nightly from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Telephone: (305) 381-3190;   

The Dutch Broken Shaker 5/23/12

Last chance to enjoy The Broken Shaker (this summer, hopefully they will return!!!) along with some kick ass street cart food from The Dutch boys, chef Carmellini and chef Conlon.  This should be a great night. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ni.Do. Caffe (MiMo) Photo Recap


***** UPDATE - since this posted the chef left and the original owners sold. I have not been back to Nido since both departures and haven't been to the newly opened Ni.Do in North Miami.  But I can tell you that neither place has anything to do with this post.****  

Ni. Do. Caffe  opened a few weeks ago without any fanfare on 72nd street and Biscayne Blvd. in the MiMo area of Miami.  The kitchen is manned by Chef Luca Taretto who was recently executive chef at the underrated Tiramesu on Lincoln Road.  More impressive is the training he received under chef Carlo Cracco at Restaurante Cracco, a two-Michelin starred restaurant in Milan.

Ni. Do. is on the small side with approximately ten tables along with an additional six seats at the bar plus an outdoor patio area.  There is also a small market section where you can purchase several items to go.  They are open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.

Ni. Do. has a warm, family friendly, neighborhood vibe and is serving excellent Italian fare at reasonable prices.  Menu items consist of a daily specials board, house-made mozzarellas, affettati, pastas, soups, salads, antipasti, paninis, tartares, fish, meats and desserts.

I visited Ni. Do three times in six days this week and enjoyed everything I had.

On my first visit I sampled their offerings from the mozzarella bar (not pictured) which included house-made burrata, fior di latte, ricotta, stracciatella and affumicata (smoked) along with an imported buffala.  All were very fresh and tasted great.  We paired those with a sampling of affettati (not pictured) which consisted of prosciutto di parma, prosciutto di cotto, speck, bresoala and salami.  These were also very good with the bresoala being a personal favorite.

I also tried an outstanding squid ink linguini with seafood including nice looking head on shrimp.  The pumpkin soup, branzino and pappardelle all received rave reviews around the table.

Dishes ordered on subsequent visits:

A daily special featuring fior di latte mozzarella paired with quinoa and mango.

Polipo- this dish featured a very fresh and tender octopus along with arugula, chick peas, kalamata olives, feta and orange.

Chef Taretto opted for a large and thick ravioli to complement its rich osso bucco filling.

Paccheri con patate, provola e salsiccia.  Perfectly cooked al dente paccheri pasta paired with Italian sausage, potatoes, provola cheese in a spicy garlic sauce.

Ravioli di funghi e fontina.  House-made ravioli stuffed with fresh mushrooms and fontina topped with a creamy parmesan sauce.

Coconut and pineapple layered panna cotta.

Torta del giorno.

Ni. Do. is a welcome addition to the area and definitely worth checking out especially if you are an authentic Italian food fan or simply a pasta lover.

Ni. Do. Caffé & Mozzarella Bar on Urbanspoon

Ni.Do Caffé & Mozzarella Bar
7295 Biscayne Blvd. 
MiamiFL 33138

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Meatball Madness!! Best Meatballs in South Florida

The meatball, one of my all time favorite comfort foods. I like my balls to be pillow-y soft on the inside with great meat flavor and they MUST be paired with outstanding sauce.

This is a short list.  The places listed are head and shoulders above the rest in town. 


Macaluso's- (South Beach) Chef  D'Andrea serves a dynamite meatball. Tip- you can get them for lunch or to go at their market next door.

Cafe Martorano- (Ft. Lauderdale) As good as a meatball gets.  

I would love to do a side by side tasting to determine a winner. 


Noodles Panini- (Ft. Lauderdale) Aunt Marion's meatballs are the real deal.

Frankie and Johnnys- (Ft. Lauderdale) New addition to the list.  Fluffy, meaty and great sauce.

Tudor House- (South Beach)- Chef DeRosa excels with comfort food (ugly burger & pork belly Cuban sandwich) and his monster meatball doesn't disappoint.

Fulvio's- (Hollywood) An underrated meatball in the area that always hits the spot.


Sonnys Famous Steak Hogies (Hollywood) Sonny serves a great meatball hogie BUT it is impossible to pass on their cheesesteaks. (TIP- get one to go or go hungry and get a cheesesteak with a meatball hogie on the side)

Racks (North Miami Beach) They serve a surprisingly soft and tasty meatball.


Randazzo's (Coral Gables) I still have not been to Randazzo's. 
Cafe La Buca (Pompano) I suspect that their meatball may be tier one or two worthy.  We shall see.
Prime Italian (South Beach) Heard good things but I am doubtful.

Are there any additional knockouts in the area?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top Chef Sbraga @ Harry's Pizzeria 5/22/12

The outstanding pop-up series presented by chef Michael Schwartz at Harry's Pizzeria continues on May 22, 2012 with a visit from Top Chef winner, Kevin Sbraga. Chef Sbraga recently opened Spraga in Philadelphia.  I've attended the last three dinners featuring national heavyweights, Waxman, Vetri and Sawer and really enjoyed them.  This looks like another winner.  

Sbraga Pizzeria takes place on Tuesday, May 22 at 7:00 p.m.

Kevin Sbraga

Bourbon and sweet tea cocktail

Fried sweetbreads, buttermilk ranch
Deviled quail eggs, benton's bacon
Roasted pork lettuce wrap, pickled beets
Pizza with grilled spring onions, Hani's goat cheese & arugula

Tomato Salad
Mint chimichuri, charred avocado, heirloom hot peppers, pepperoni crumble

Rock shrimp succotash, garlic chive butter, dandelion greens

Wood Oven Roasted Duck
Smoked eggplant caponata, fresh garbanzo, artichoke chips, shallot-dill vinaigrette

Confit of papaya, orange-habanero sauce, lemon cremeux, madeleine 

Tickets are $129.00 inclusive and can be purchased here

Harry's Pizzeria
3918 North Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33127