Summer is here but as you’ll see, there’s no let up in high profile new restaurant openings, happy hour and lunch deals, a great gift idea for wine lovers, gelato heaven, and other eating news you won’t want to miss. Here’s Part 1 in a two part series.
One of the hottest new spots in town is Bellini Miami in the Mr. C Hotel (2988 McFarlane Road). It’s arguably now the best restaurant in Coconut Grove. This Italian restaurant, from fourth generation Ciprianis — Maggio and Ignazio– is booked well in advance for weekend nights so be forewarned (lunch is less busy). Eater perfectly described the decor as “Old school Italian meets Miami”, with indoor and outdoor seating. I went there for lunch in a “first look” with a friend and found it super buzzy, an attractive place with attractive people, and the food was high quality. Portions are not for sharing, and it’s pricey. Figure on easily $75 per person for lunch with one glass of wine and tip. And of course, they serve the classic Bellini which the family invented.
Back from Iran and Turkey and had a craving for those cuisines. I checked online and lo and behold, found Shiraz Bistro & Market. It turns out the restaurant has a loyal, dedicated following and we understand why after dinner there. The Turkish and Persian owners and managers do their culinary heritage proud with delectable dishes of the region. Especially recommended are the kebabs which come with cucumber yogurt dip, basmati rice, grilled tomato and onion; any eggplant dish; and the Persian stews. There’s also a good size onsite market with gourmet delicacies along with teas, coffee, herbs and oils, seeds and nuts and jams. If you’re a jam lover, be sure to get the Turkish blackberry jam, OMG. Prices are very reasonable. Most entrees are in the low to mid teens and that’s with accompaniments and good size portions. Shiraz Bistro, 9630 SW 77th Avenue (T.305-273-8888).
Café La Trova, Michelle Bernstein’s Cuban spot on Calle Ocho, is now open for lunch. If you haven’t been, there’s an enticing three course express lunch menu for $21. It includes dishes like fave stewed garbanzos, a choice of empanada or croqueta and queso frito for first course; Mi Cubana sandwich and arroz con pollo plus others for second course; and choice of flan or bread pudding for dessert. Lunch is offered Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cafe La Trova, 971 SW 8th Street (T.786-615-4379). Click here for my earlier review about the food AND not to be missed cocktails.
Here’s the perfect gift for wine lovers, motorsports enthusiasts and car lovers – A gift box of four wines of The Racing Series. The wines were “test driven” by yours truly and ex sommelier Mr. W. We both gave them a big thumbs up. The four ultra premium California blends are inspired by moments on the race track of Kevin Buckler, described as ” a man of fast cars and fine wines”. Back in 1995, Kevin entered his Porsche 911, built by The Racers Group, into the California Grand Prix and won his first race. Over the last 24 years, Kevin has built his legacy as a driver and team owner with more than 100 professional victories around the world, including the 24 hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Daytona (four times).
In 2002, he and his wife, Debra, started a small boutique winery called Adobe Road, of which he is CEO, focusing on small production, and award winning wines from Napa and Sonoma counties. Adobe’s latest creation is this Racing Series whose wines are sold individually or in a handsome display box with four selections for $250. More information on the Racing Series can be found here or by following @racingserieswines on Instagram and Facebook.
Maska Indian restaurant from Michelin star Chef Hemant Mathur (one of my faves–returned again last week) is now offering happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Cocktail favorites and wines by the glass are $8; beer $5; and bottles of wine mostly $30. Bar bites including chicken sliders, beef sheikh kebab, Vegan cocktail samosas and others range from $6 to $9. Maska, 3201 N.E.1st Avenue. My earlier review is here.
Live on Brickell and need a new go to place for real gelato, as in an Italian prize winner? We checked out new spot Stefano Versace Gelato (no relation to the design house) and loved the gelato, especially the richly flavored fruit varieties like strawberry and blackberry.Twelve flavors are offered which rotate on a daily basis and they’re made fresh daily. Most popular flavors are Perfume de Sicilia (which has: Ricotta, Pistachio, Orange and Dark Chocolate) and Chocolate Fondant which is 90% Cacao water based. Perfume de Sicilia is the flavor that won Best Gelato of the world in 2014 at Rimini Fair, one the most important international events of the sector. They also serve lunch for eat in or a ready to go hot offering that includes one protein (two options), a side or a salad for $10 to $14. A cone (two scoops of your choice) is $8.50 plus tax. Stefano Versace Gelato, 1300 Brickell Bay Drive. It’s open Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m to 11 p.m.; Sunday until 10 p.m.