Crudo di branzino, Mediterranean seabass with pink peppercorn, garnished with radish fennel salad on a wine map of the Med

 

More regional Italian and Eastern Med restaurants are opening in Miami and happy to say, the large majority are reasonably priced. Plus, they bring exciting new dishes and taste sensations, and wines from regions that are otherwise unrepresented in Miami restaurants. One of the newest entrants is Panarea Mediterranean Sea Grill named for one of the Aeolian Islands near Sicily. Pristine and undeveloped, its waters are known for seafood which informs the menu here, and its craggy hills for super size capers. The laid back, casual seaside ambiance and very friendly service, makes one think that this neighborhood restaurant could have been plucked from Panarea’s coast. Luca Delogu, the owner, hails from Rome but grew up in Sardinia and the chef, Claudio Sandri, who’s from Torino, Italy, and has appeared on The Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,”  is recognized by the Italian Culinary Federation as a “Master Chef.”

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All this said, expect Mediterranean comfort food from everywhere from Egypt and Turkey to France, Spain,  North Africa, Lebanon, Greece and Israel. Each dish is indicated with its country of origin. The menu changes seasonally and fish, on display, is flown in from the Med every Tuesday and Friday, supplementing the local catch. The night we were there the selection was limited, but the choices including turbot, red snapper and oysters were very fresh.

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The menu is divided into cold and hot small plates, fish (fileted or whole) and shellfish with a choice of preparation (Take a cue from Sicily and sample the Salmoriglio dressing, made of olive oil, parsley, garlic, oregano and lemon, or select the Chermoula dressing from Morocco, created with cumin, herbs, paprika, saffron, and lemon juice); salads; crudo; mains and sides.  We started with a bottle of wine from Sardinia (Vermentino, Funtanaliras OR Cannonau, Kiri) accompanied by delectable Taggiasche Sicilian and Kalamata Greek olives served Turkish style – with orange, red onions and a special marinade, both tangy and sweet. For starters we opted for the unusual Spanish pejerreyes fritos, crispy sand smelts fried in olive oil with sage leaves, parsley and lemon juice and served in an original paper cone along with zucchini. They have a strong flavor, but blue fish lovers will give this dish high marks (I enjoyed them).

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Spanish pejerreyes fritos, crispy sand smelts fried in olive oil with sage leaves, parsley and lemon juice and served in an original paper cone along with zucchini.

 

Do not miss a standout, fried artichokes with mint tzatziki, a yogurt like dip, from Greece. They were fried whole with the stems, and toasted with bread crumbs.

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Fried artichokes with mint tzatziki, a yogurt like dip, from Greece.

 

Crudo lovers will want to try the delicate crudo di branzino, Mediterranean seabass with pink peppercorn, garnished with radish fennel salad.  Other favorites included the khroufe from Morocco, a lamb stew with apricots, chickpeas, potatoes, carrots, cinnamon and herbs; and pincho moruno from Spain, pork loin brochettes once again with unusual seasoning of paprika, cumin, thyme, pepper, oregano and garlic. The seasonings all work perfectly under the deft hand of Chef Claudio.

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Pincho moruno from Spain, pork loin brochettes once again with unusual seasoning of paprika, cumin, thyme, pepper, oregano and garlic

 

Lovers of pasta who also want to watch calories must try spirulina pasta from the Aeolie islands. Made in house as with all of the pastas, this pasta is made from algae (tastes like flour pasta though), together with seasonal vegetables, fresh tomatoes and olive oil. In a very novel twist, the wine list is  a map of the Mediterranean which identifies each wine, its location and price by the glass and bottle. As with the food, wines are reasonably priced. A glass (6 ounce pour) starts at $9 and bottle at $32.

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Tajine from North Africa

Starters average $10, fileted fish in the high twenties (whole fish MP), mains from $17 to $28; and sides $6. Both lunch and dinner are served daily. They are offering a special Miami Spice menu.

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Panarea, 11052 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33161. For more information call, (305) 640-5580 or visit www.panareaseagrill.com

Food photography (except for Pincho Moruno) by William Oberheiser.

 

Panarea Sea Gril Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



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