You could say that downtown Miami’s solid restaurant scene was launched by Fratelli Milano, its owners Italian chef and restaurateur Roberto Bearzi and wife Fiorella Blanco, known for their twists on traditional Italian cuisine. Over the years they maintained quality at this casual spot with a reasonable price point, and not surprisingly have been successful. So now it’s on to their second restaurant, two story vista Miami, a welcome addition to Buena Vista restaurants. It offers dining indoors and in a lovely, inviting outdoor garden courtyard with lush plantings and bamboo. I’ve been back twice in a week since my initial visit — for the food, comfortable setting, and good quality/value. Coming up for fall is a rooftop lounge. The other very good news is an adjacent open air garden with unique boutiques that I’ll be writing up separately (and the best compliment from me, where I did serious damage while on “recon”).
The chef driven cuisine is a joint production of owner- chef Bearzi and Chilean-Italian chef Giuliano Leverone, a former Fratelli Milano waiter whose years working at the family-owned restaurant inspired him to pursue a career as a chef. Upon graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, Leverone worked in various Miami restaurants, including Cecconi’s, Barceloneta and Matador Room, as well as New York City’s Mandarin Oriental.
In Upper Buena Vista, nestled between the Design District and Little Haiti, and only open a few weeks, it is already attracting dedicated followers who are enjoying the café like vibe, friendly service, and certainly the very tasty food. Vista is the kind of place you feel comfortable going to for appetizers and wine, a full meal or just a dessert and coffee. Plus, there’s quality and value.
We started with a very good charcuterie board. Cheeses were exceptional. Then on to the tempura like calamari, tender and fried with a deft hand, seasoned with seame salt, pickles and yuzu sabayon. Another excellent choice is the octopus served with baby potataoes, romesco, squash puree, chorizo oil and salsa verde. My French friend who knows more than a thing or two about good food raved about it.
And another friend, who knows her raw fish, and I loved the fisherman crudo which was very fresh, with citrus, avocado, cucumbers and cilantro. One seldom finds brisket on the menu and here it’s teamed with maltagliati pasta, tomato and parmesan cheese. Slowly braised, it was tender and oh so flavorful. We also enjoyed the signature poblano pesto gnocchi with poblano peppers, mint and pistachio with just the right amount of zip.
Seafood is an especially good bet here, showing the commitment to quality. Scottish salmon is grilled and served on a bed of beluga lentils that look like caviar and pea puree. Another good option, local red snapper comes with mango chutney and coconut wild rice. Carnivores will find selections for them as well, including the Vista burger, Wagyu sirloin bavette and veal Milanese.
The menu choices are very appealing, and I left wanting to return for lunch and try one of the inviting salads like the grilled peach, arugula, stracciatella and toasted pine nut salad. To any of the salads you can add a protein which, besides the usual choice includes mahi mahi Milanese. Another dish on my radar screen is the hand cut fries with melted raclette.
We tried the apple pie made from puff pastry, fuji apples with vanilla gelato on top. A real crowd pleaser for sure.
Appetizers and salads average in the low teens; most pastas are from $18 to $24; entrees from $18 to $45 for a rib eye but most are in the 20’s. A glass of wine ( 5 ounce pour) starts at $8 and bottles at $30. Most cocktails are in the low teens. There’s also a selection of after dinner cocktails and dessert wines and non alcoholic cocktails. Kids won’ t be disappointed with their special menu offerings.
vista Miami, 5020 N.E. 2nd Avenue (T. 305-405-7547.). This Buena Vista restaurant is open from 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, . There’s also happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. and brunch on Sunday.