There’s a welcome new addition to Greek restaurants in Miami. Star chef and successful restaurateur Michael Mina has been best known in Miami for his popular steakhouses Bourbon Steak and Stripsteak. But now he has turned his talents here to seafood and his first Greek concept in the new Ornos Estiatorio Greek restaurant inspired by his visit to a fishing village in Mykonos. As with all he does, it’s already a success judging by the healthy crowd Thursday night. He brought in the Athens born Chef Nikolaos Georgousis whose pedigree includes Milos. Here he’s working his magic of traditional Greek favorites with a light touch and original outakes.
Not surprising, the emphasis is on seafood. And if there’s any doubt about that, Miami’s first fish sommelier and roving cart will dispel it. Most of the varieties are flown in daily from Greece and grilled on a wood fire. This includes lavraki (sea bass), fagri (snapper) and Tsipoura ( sea bream), complemented by Maine lobster and other shellfish. The fish is simply prepared, the best for fresh seafood, except for a novel presentation of sole that’s breaded with phyllo crumbs and topped with skordalia, a dollop of almond paste.
The menu is divided into shellfish, spreads, salads, raw, starters, side, fish from the wood fired grill, classics and desserts. Starters include classic spreads which were prepared with a light and deft hand including tzatziki, hummus and roasted eggplant, a fave .
We began with the trio of spreads ($19) followed by a crowd favorite, flaming melted Greek cheese called saganaki ($15). Between courses we nibbled on the addictive oh so thinly sliced, lightly fried zucchini with tzatziki for dipping, not to be missed. ($19)
For mains Mr W ordered the lavraki that was fileted , drizzled with olive oil and capers. Not usually a fish eater, he ate the whole thing and said he enjoyed every mouthful. I opted for the sole which is seldom found on menus and here super fresh.
We teamed the dishes up with a novel take on roasted beets, here made with toasted hazelnuts and chive yogurt ($10), and wild greens including steamed baby spinach and chard in a lemon vinaigrette ($8). There’s also a solid selection for meat eaters including 14 ounce bone in veal chop ($46), lamb chops ($47) as well as roasted lemon chicken.
Dessert was a dinner highlight, the incredible baklava. For my tastes, it’s one of the best I’ve had either here or in Greece. Unlike others, it wasn’t dripping with honey, so more of the other flavors came through, and I liked the presentation that was like a slice of a log rather than a pastry.
The wine menu has a selection of Greek beers and wines from Crete along with after dinner drinks. A glass of wine (5 ounce pour) starts at $12 and bottles at $52. Also on tap is a large selection of tequilas and rums which are on display at a long attractive bar.
The casually elegant décor with rustic touches brings to mind a restaurant from one of the Greek islands with its Mediterranean blue and neutral color scheme inside and outdoor patio surrounded by dozens of hanging plants providing privacy. If dining inside, request a banquette for extra space and comfort. There are also private dining rooms and lounge areas available for special events.
Ornos Estiatorio is located at the new outdoor oasis at Aventura Mall at 19565 Biscayne Blvd. Suite 946. For reservations click here or call 786-697-1681. It’s open for dinner Tuesday to Sunday and soon to come, lunch, and brunch. Happy hour is Tuesday through Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. for snacks and beverages. Also, look for a special Christmas menu with famed roast lamb the Greek style.