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Black Mediterranean mussels from North Italia

 

New restaurant openings you’ll want to know about,  a new find for pie lovers, and a steak and whisky dinner to have you drool at Smith & Wollensky, all in Eating News for February.

Progressive Indian cuisine at Maska

 

New restaurant openings: Maska Indian Kitchen + Bar helmed by Executive Chef Hemant Mathur, the first Indian chef in the US to be awarded a Michelin Star.  He comes to Miami from New York’s Devi and Tulsi where he was Chef-Owner. The emphasis here is on progressive Indian cuisine with a specialty, tandoor oven dishes. The large space has an expansive bar, lounge area, open kitchen and two tandoor ovens. The indoor and outdoor restaurant at 3252 NE 1st Avenue in Midtown is open for dinner only. T. 786-971-9100

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Tandoori lamb chops at Maska

 

First look, checked out La Placita Puerto Rican restaurant and was it ever hopping. You may have read about the brouhaha about the facade that was painted with the island’s flag, much to the dismay of preservationists.  The new venture of Julian Gil, Latin American TV and soap opera star together with restaurateur and chef Jose Mendin, known as one of the Pubbelly Boys, is about authentic food.

Mr. W and our friends who lived in Puerto Rico gave everything high marks including the lechón asado, the roasted pork served with yuca con mojo; carne frita with a teriyaki glaze; bacalaitos, codfish fritters with coconut aioli; crispy pork shoulder with house glaze and onions; and pasteles boricuas, Puerto Rican style tamales with lechon guisado (stewed pork). I had the mofongo, a Puerto Rican classic of mashed green plantains seasoned with garlic and onions which can be combined with a choice of five proteins (my choice was the chicken) in a tomato based sauce . Delicious. The colorful decor is fun, evocative of a market for which it is named . Go early and sit on the outdoor terrace as the noise level is seriously “energetic”. 6789 Biscayne Boulevard (T.305-400-8173).

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La Placita Miami

 

A solid new Italian dining option, North Italia, just opened in Mary Brickell Village, 900 South Miami Ave. (T.786-475-9100). Its well curated menu includes classic and modern favorites including antipasti, salads, pastas made on site, artisanal pizzas and entrées inspired by the garden, farm and sea. The nearly 8,600 square feet restaurant features an exhibition kitchen that overlooks the dining room. There’s also  bar area seating along with an outdoor patio. Our first look in the friends and family brunch, had us wanting to return for dinner. We started with black Mediterranean mussels that were plump, perfectly cooked, and especially tasty, thanks to thin slices of salami as a part of the sauce. It was a good sized portion as well.

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Tortelloni filled with creamy burrata in a tomato sauce at North Italia

Then on to roasted salmon with a standout faro pesto and tortelloni filled with creamy burrata cheese in a light tomato sauce with cherry tomatoes. On a second visit I tried the beef carpaccio that was very tasty and garnished with pine nuts that gave it a welcome and unexpected crunch.  Dessert was a homerun — the hazelnut torta with nutella cream, hazelnut toffee,and  salted caramel gelato.  North Italia serves lunch, dinner, brunch and an early happy hour — from 3 – 6 p.m. Specials like the Bottle & Board offer a choice of pizza, bruschetta or chef’s board with a bottle of wine for $25, perfect for a post-work Aperitivo. To view North Italia’s Miami menu, click here.

hazelnut torta from North Italia Miami, Miamicurated, italian restaurants brickell
Hazelnut torta from North Italia

 

Desserts seem to taste even better to me when they have fewer calories, and so I was delighted to find the Pink Pie that specializes in 3 inch mini pies, sweet and savory varieties.  It’s portion control, assuming of course you don’t eat more than one, or indulge in their pies’cream sandwich or pie milkshake with two pies on top.

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Pies’cream sandwich at Pink Pie

 

At any one time choose among eight sweet or two savory kinds out of their 40 different creations. Don’t expect traditional fruit pies. Paloma Machado McGowan and Michael McGowan, the husband wife team behind Little Pie are creative. Think oreo nutella; s’mores pie, which is smoked with hickory wood and filled with burnt marshmallow cream; guava cheese, pistachio and white chocolate and birthday cake. The sprinkle topped birthday cake tasted like cookie dough, a little chewy and richly decadent. There are Vegan and gluten-free varieties too, such as coconut dulce de leche.  Pies come with different crusts, cookie or dough based.

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Savory pie at Pink Pie

 

Savory choices include bacon, egg and cheese and onion and chicken confit.  They offer a full coffee and tea menu and even a “babycino” for kids with frothed milk and cocoa powder.  The individual pie costs $3.50; two for $6; 4 for $11.50 and so on — the more you order the lower the price. Pink Pie, 170 N.W. 26th Street in Wynwood.

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Here’s something different for you steak lovers — Smith & Wollensky’s ultimate Steak & Whiskey Event, taking place Feb. 12 through St. Patrick’s Day, with limited availability after.  Highlights include showcasing IrishAmerican™ Whiskey inspired cocktails, a specialty tasting flight and the coveted crown jewel of the Steak & Whiskey event- a Double R Ranch USDA Prime Bone-in New York Cut Sirloin. Known for its on-site dry-aging process, the restaurant team is taking one of Smith & Wollensky’s most popular cuts, wrapping it in an IrishAmerican Whiskey-soaked cheesecloth, and aging it for 30 days to create a unique whiskey-infused flavor within this signature dry-aged cut.  A video of that process is available HERE.

Now aging, this select Double R Ranch USDA Prime Bone-In, 21 ounce, New York Cut Sirloin will be available in a limited quantity for $65 and guests are encouraged to reserve their steaks ONLINE or by phone, noting “Whiskey-Aged Steak” in the reservation request.

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Smith & Wollensky

 

Like baguettes? When I was checking out Doma in Wynwood (read about it tomorrow) I saw a sign for Mr. Baguette opening early this year. Stay tuned.

 

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