Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best Restaurants Miami-"Tiers of Excellence"


This is the last rankings of 2012 and I decided to put some added pressure on myself by limiting the list to the best twenty restaurants in Miami plus ties. It should be noted that while food is the primary factor in my formula, value, service, ambiance and wine/beverage programs also play an important role.  Every restaurant ranked here is good to great and all are recommended by me.

Eat well and often!!

RIP- Red Light.

TIER ONE- The BEST of the BEST. Run don't walk to these spots for A++ meals.

TIER TWO- This is an outstanding tier of restaurants putting out great food on a daily basis and providing an overall great dining experience. 



The To Do Eat Tier - Khong River House (tier worthy meals) Oak Tavern, Machialina (outstanding), Momi Ramen (special place), George's Kitchen, The Hoxton, Essensia, Tikl, Haven, Katsuya, Il Gabbiano, Zuma, The Setai.

Coming soon - The Cypress Room, Catch, Broken Shaker Food with Jeremiah Bullfrog, Lure Fishbar & untitled project from Jamie DeRosa. 

THE CASUAL TIER- Counter service and/or on the casual side.

Kings County Pizza


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Best Pizza South Florida

Leaning Tower of Pizza

Its been a while since I've updated my list of the best pizza in South Florida. During that time I've sampled, okay destroyed a lot of great tasting pies.  I've frequented old favorites and found some new gems along the way.
As many of my readers know, I am a huge pizza fan who grew up in NY.  Thus, I love traditional NY style slices but I'm also a huge fan of the thin crust pies coming out of the coal and wood fired ovens all over South Florida.

**When I refer to dough, I am talking about the portion under the cheese and sauce. "crust" to me is the edge of the dough that you fold. I believe that is technically referred to as cornicione. I suppose you can simply call the entire dough the crust and the edge the upper crust. Whatever!! I like calling it pizza dough and crust. No idea if that is proper terminology or not but it's always been mine.**

These are the best of the best in South Florida.

RIP- Racks (North Miami Beach)


Pizzeria Oceano

Pizzeria Oceano (Lantana) As I indicated last post, they're serving the best pizza in Florida bar none and they'd hold their own against the best in the country.  Pictured above is their basic pizza which features housemade mozzarella, olive oil, pecorino romano, tomato sauce and basil. The sauce, cheese and dough are all fantastic and the ratio is perfect.  The crust has a nice char and tastes great. This is a perfect pizza and worth the drive from Miami for sure. 

Scuola Vecchia Pizza

Scuola Vecchia Pizzeria (Delray Beach) This is one of the recent gems I found.  The chef trained at the critically acclaimed Keste Pizza e Vino on Bleeker Street in NYC. Pictured above is the classic Neapolitan pizza, the Regina Margherita.  It features imported bufala mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil and basil. This is great pizza.        

Scuola Vecchia Pizza e Vino on Urbanspoon



Mauro's (Downtown Hollywood)- Huge authentic NY style slices. Perfect dough, sauce and cheese ratio. Their sauce skews slightly on the sweet side.  The best NY style slice in South Florida.

Kings County
Grandma Pie Kings County

Kings County Pizza (Aventura) They are serving authentic NY style pies including stellar sicilian and grandma pizza. p.s. their baked ziti is even better.

Cafe la Buca

Cafe La Buca (Pompano Beach)- NY style/thin crust hybrid. Fantastic tasting dough with a nice chew. The cheese and sauce is top notch and perfectly proportioned. Pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven imported from their hometown of Naples, Italy.  Five tables, daily changing verbal menu.  Get a small pie so you can try one of their fresh housemade pastas. Hidden gem and a must visit.

White Clam, Bacon & Garlic-Nick's Pizzeria & Bar

Nick's Pizzeria & Bar

Nick's Pizzeria & Bar (Boca raton) This is another new addition to the tiers. Nick's specializes in New Haven style "apizza". The classic apizza is the "white clam pie" which consists of littleneck clams, garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated cheese. I've opted for their white clam, garlic and bacon pizza which is an awesome combination and a great pie. Their crust is great and features a really nice char.    

Nick's New Haven-Style Pizzeria & Bar on Urbanspoon  


delivery guy from Harry's

Crispy lamb, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, spicy sauce & herbs 


Harry's Pizzeria (Miami) The best thing about Harry's is that it continues to improve. Skip the margherita and opt for one of their creative pies featuring awesome topping combinations or their daily special.  You won't leave disappointed.  Don't skip their fantastic new beer, Michael's Genuine Home Brew.   

Macalusos Market (South Beach) - I'm a big fan of Macaluso's and was very happy when he opened the market next door. The Market features their legendary meatballs, heroes and pastas.  They also serve fantastic pizzas. Kill two birds with one stone and order the meatball pie.  


Steve's (North Miami)- This is a place I really want to love but always falls just short for me.  It's very good but the sauce is just too sweet for this to rank higher.

Spris- (South Beach) An underrated spot over on Lincoln Road that features some interesting topping combinations. Always leave satisfied. 

Anthonys Coal Fired Pizza (Multiple Locations) They started the coal fired craze in South Florida and still excel at it. Their wings are the best in town so don't skip them.


Michaels Genuine (Design District) Love the breakfast pizza on the brunch menu.

MC Kitchen
MC Kitchen (Design District)  This new and great Italian spot in the Design District features a great broccoli raab and Italian sausage pizza on the lunch menu.

MC Kitchen on Urbanspoon

J&G Grill
J & G Grill (Bal Harbour) Their black truffle pizza with fointina cheese is available on the brunch, lunch dinner menu.

Timo (Sunny Isles) Try their wood fired Black and White featuring ricotta, mozzarella, provolone and shaved black truffles.

To Do List

Fresco Trattoria (South Beach) Milan import sounds promising.
Forno 52  (Pinecrest) ****CLOSED****
Kitchenetta (Ft. Lauderdale)
Saverio Primo Macaluso (North Miami)
Gran Forno Pronto (Ft. Lauderdale)

This is a slight departure from my normal posts but I thought it would be beneficial to my followers who need last minute holiday help.

I was contacted recently by Fruit Flowers and asked to taste test one of their arrangements and provide an honest assessment of their product.   They specialize in delivering edible fruit that looks like a flower arrangement for all occasions.  People also use them as edible centerpieces for dinner parties and events.

I must admit that I was initially disinterested in participating because I wasn't a fan of the concept. But I'm open minded and never tried one so I agreed to participate.

The basket that was sent arrived nicely packaged and professionally arranged.  It was sealed properly in order to maintain its freshness.  It contained a generous assortment of very fresh and flavorful fruit that was easy to eat.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The best part was watching the ChowTwins destroy a healthy treat.

If you are looking to send something different this holiday season I would recommend trying

Happy Holidays!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Exit One Cigar City Beer Dinner 12/18/12


The chef Andrew Zimmern dubbed Wall Street during our Cobaya dinner Brad Kilgore recently took his "money" skills to Key Biscayne.  He is now part owner and executive chef at Exit One.  Prior to his departure from Azul, I had the fortune to attend an incredible "Anatomy of a Suckling Pig" tasting menu he prepared.  In case you missed my recap you can check it out Here.    

AZ and Wall St.

Brad is at the tasting menu game again.  This time he will be pairing his cutting edge cuisine with the fine beers from Cigar City Brewing


The dinner is $75.00 inclusive of tax, tip and beer. Start time is 6:45 p.m.  Reserve your seat by calling 305.569.9009.   *** the dinner is being hosted at their sister spot in Coral Gables, Route 9

Trust me!! You do not want to miss a chef Kilgore tasting menu.   See you there!

1st Course

British Columbian Oyster, CO2 Beer Mignonette, Pickled Shallot

2nd Course

Foie Gas Mousse, Duck Confit, Beer Foam, Golden Raisin Agrodulce

3rd Course

Veal Sweatbread and Hen of the Woods Ragu, Mille Feuille,Yeast Chantilly

4th Course

Maduro Glazed Suckling Pig, Black Garlic Polenta, Puffed Barley, Garlic Chips

5th Course

Dessert- TBD

1111 Crandon Blvd
Key Biscayne, FL 33149


Monday, December 10, 2012

Paul Kahan @ Harry's Pizzeria 1/15/13


Food lovers in the 3.0.5. were very fortunate in 2012 thanks to fantastic Cobaya Dinners a great pop up  series curated by Chef Michael Schwartz.  These pop ups were hosted by Chef Schwartz and his great team at Harry's Pizzeria and featured esteemed chefs from all over the country.

I was fortunate enough to attend dinners hosted by Jonathan Waxman, Marc Vetri, Jonathan Sawyer, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, Chris Hastings, Hugh Acheson and Andrew Carmellini. Each of these dinners were a lot of fun and featured great food that showcased each chefs style. So I was very happy to hear that Chef Schwartz was continuing the series in 2013.  

First up is Chef Paul Kahan who hails from the Windy City and owns critically acclaimed and super popular spots, Blackbird, Avec, the Publican and Publican Quality Meats. He is a James Beard winner for Best Chef Midwest in 2004.

Chef Kahan will be taking over the wood burning oven at Harry's Pizzeria on January 15, 2013 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $150.00 inclusive of tax and tip plus a welcome cocktail and free flowing wine selected by Wine Director Eric Larkee. I suspect that there will be some Michael's Genuine Home Brew in the house as well. Guests always go home with a special gift too.

Again, these are great dinners and a really fun evening. It's an awesome way to experience the food of an out of town chef at a fraction of the cost of a plane ticket and dinner.

See you there!!!

You can purchase tickets HERE

and you can learn more about past and future dinners Here


Harry's Pizzeria

3918 North Miami Avenue

Miami, FL 33127


Friday, December 7, 2012

Chef Susan Spicer in Miami 12/10/12

This is a great opportunity to meet one of the best chefs in New Orleans and enjoy some great food and wine/cocktails.


and Chef Norman Van Aken present

Terra Madre Day with James Beard Award Winner

Chef Susan Spicer
from New Orleans

to celebrate the Slow Food Miami Fountain
at the Miami Culinary Institute Gardens
with an exclusive food, wine and spirits experience

Monday, December 10, 2012 7:00 pm

Taste Chef Susan Spicer recipes from her award winning cookbook and New Orleans restaurants
Sip Signature Cocktails Courtesy of Grey Goose Vodka
Savor the Wine Pairings Courtesy of Vinecraft

Miami Culinary Institute
of Miami Dade College
415 NE 2nd Ave. Miami, FL 33132

Valet Parking Available


6:30 Cooking Class in Food Theater with Chef Susan Spicer
followed by Culinary Gardens Food, Wine and Spirits Experience
includes autographed copy of "Crescent City Cooking" cookbook


7:00 pm Culinary Gardens Food, Wine and Spirits Experience


Grey Goose Signature Cocktails and Wine Pairings by Vinecraft accompanying:
Goat Cheese Crouton with Mushrooms in Madeira Cream
Crispy Smoked Quail Salad with Bourbon Molasses Vinaigrette
Prosciutto-wrapped Tuna with Olive Salad, Arugula, Ciabatta Toast and Lemon Aioli
BBQ Shrimp with Stoneground Grits and Smothered Greens
Turkish Lamb-stuffed Eggplant with Sautéed Kale
Chocolate Hazelnut Phyllo Turnovers with Dreamsicle Ice Cream

(menu subject to change based on garden & market availabilities)

Susan Spicer began her culinary career in 1979, as an apprentice to French chef, Daniel Bonnot at the Louis XVI in New Orleans.  After spending the summer of 1982 in Paris in the kitchen of MOF Roland Durand, she returned to take on her first chef position at Savoir Faire, a small French-inspired bistro.  From there, Susan continued her education through work and travel and in 1986 opened the tiny, but soon famous, Bistro at Maison deVille in the French Quarter.  In 1990, with partner, Regina Keever, she unveiled Bayona in a beautiful Creole cottage, complete with romantic courtyard dining.  She went on to partner with former sous-chef, Donald Link at Herbsaint in 2000 (selling her partnership in 2008) and most recently opened Mondo, a casual, family-friendly restaurant in Lakeview, the neighborhood where she lives with her husband and two teenage stepchildren.   In 2010, Susan was inducted into the James Beard "Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America".   She continues to divide her time between the two restaurants, as well as being active in many community fundraisers and projects.  She is considering her next move, which may be a new cookbook to follow up 2007's "Crescent City Cooking".


Terra Madre Day is an annual celebration hosted by Slow Food International, where 150 Slow Food countries come together to promote good, clean and fair food around the world.  There are thousands of events planned around the world on this day where people get together to share a meal, celebrate the culture of food, and eat sustainably.

Slow Food Miami is the local chapter of Slow Food USA, a national non-profit dedicated to supporting good, clean and fair food for all. We support our local community from the ground up  from the Edible School & Community Gardens we plant to encourage the enjoyment of food that is local, seasonal and sustainably grown; to the local growers and artisan food makers we support for their use of sustainable methods. Through culinary, educational events and fundraising we support our Edible School & Community Garden Program, and aim to also raise awareness of good, clean and fair food as a cornerstone of pleasure, culture & community.

Vinecraft is an importer and distributor of artisanal wines from around the world.  They choose growers and producers who offer unique, rare, or old vintages.  Their wines are highly sought after.  We are lucky to have a nice selection of Vinecraft available to us at our local Whole Foods Coral Gables.

Grey Goose Vodka has partnered with Slow Food Miami, an organization who is committed to connecting the community to locally grown food. Slow Food Miami recently awarded Grey Goose Vodka with the Snail of Approval Award for their extraordinary attention to the French farmers who harvest their wheat and sustainable standards appointed to the quality of production after work in the fields is completed. SIP RESPONSIBLY. |

Sapient Technologies is a top interactive agency located in Miami. In an effort to give back to their community, their top designers competed in a contest to design Slow Food Miami's first fountain.  The winner was chosen by an expert panel of judges and the fountain will be unveiled in the Miami Culinary Institute Gardens.  This fountain will remind our local up and coming chefs that fresh ingredients are the basis for the most delicious food.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pig & The Goat @ PBFWFest 12.10.12

This should be a fantastic lunch and a great way for South Floridians to experience the great food of Cochon and Girl and a Goat.  See you there.

Southern Hospitality at Pistache
Sample what made these chefs famous! Bravo’s Top Chef-winner Stephanie Izard's Girl and the Goat restaurant has been recognized as Saveur magazine's first ever "Best New Restaurant" and received the 2011 Michelin Guide Chicago “Bib Gourmand” honor. Winner of the 2011 James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: South,” Stephen Stryjewski’s restaurant Cochon in New Orleans was also named a “Best New Restaurant” finalist in 2007.  Join these chefs and local favorites Julien Gremaud and Jennifer Reed to savor the lunch of a lifetime. The southern-style gathering will begin with an hors d'oeuvres reception and follow with a four-course lunch, highlighting each chef's signature fare.