Chef Fabrice with a salmon en croute

M&V Cafe isn’t the kind of restaurant you usually find in Miami. I’ve eaten there for lunch or dinner four times in five weeks. That’s saying something. It has a family vibe, not surprising since the chef and his wife Stephanie are the owners and work in tandem, he in the kitchen and she waiting on tables and charming the patrons. Plus, it’s neither a single cuisine nor fusion. It offers traditional French specialties, the favorites, along with house made pasta and other Italian dishes. Why the mix? Chef Fabrice Di Rienzo was born in France, worked with French greats Bernard Loiseau, Paul Bocuse and Daniel Boulud, but his grandmother was Italian and taught him all about Italian cuisine which he also loves. The food is delicious, and it’s the kind of place you’ll go back to, where you feel comfortable and get solid value . Plus, they have an amazing two course lunch special for $14.50.

The 49 seat restaurant has a simple and intimate décor, a bar with seating for dining, and several outdoor tables. My favorite were the French specials, and the classics are all here –onion soup,  foie gras terrine, escargots, croque monsieur, duck in orange sauce, chocolate fondant cake and more.

Mr W began with a beautiful and yummy beet salad with almonds.


Beet and almond salad

I started with the French onion soup which was divine. The beef broth was rich and so flavorful, it almost didn’t need the melted cheese and bread topping. On other visits, I had the mushroom soup and sweet potato soup, both showing the chef has a special way with soups. Mr. W opted for the house made linguine carbonara which was very rich.

Mahi mahi quenelles with risotto sauce with mushrooms

For a main course, I couldn’t resist a classic that was given an Italian and local twist – mahi mahi quenelles on a sauce with risotto and mushrooms. The quenelles, made of flour, butter, and fish in a paste with a very fine layer of puff paste, was elegant and refined, and the sauce a perfect complement. My side dish was the ratatouille, the vegetables a touch crunchy and very fresh, and the tomato based sauce light and tasty. On another occasion I had the duck with orange sauce served with a choice of roasted potatoes or green salad. It was crusty, tender, and very flavorful. My French friend who knows her food gave everything high marks (and in fact, said she’d be back to celebrate her birthday!).

Duck with orange sauce and ratatouille

Desserts include crème brulee, a chocolate fondant cake served with vanilla ice cream, and a deconstructed lemon meringue pie.

Chocolate lava (fondant) cake that I couldn’t resist

Prices of food and wines are very reasonable Appetizers and pastas are priced in the teens; meat entrees including a selection of rib eye steaks with side in the $30’s, fish in the $20’s, sides, $6 and desserts, $7-$10.. A glass of wine (5 ounce pour) starts at $7 and bottles at $21. The lunch special, served Tuesday through Friday, at $14.50 offered a choice of soup of the day or Caesar salad, chicken with herbs or grilled fish fillet with ratatouille and fresh pasta. Friends and I had the lunch special (fish was grilled branzino) and everyone complimented the chef.

Deconstructed lemon meringue pie

M&V Cafe is open for breakfast and brunch on the weekends and lunch and dinner Tuesday  through Saturday. It’s closed  Monday. They also do catering and will do special dishes on request for groups.M&V Cafe  ,  12953 Biscayne Blvd, North Miami T.(305) 456-0002.

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