waterfront dining in miami, waterfront restaurants in miami, miamicuratedThe Deck at Island Gardens was always one of my favorite places to dine well, enjoy a signature view of Miami’s skyline, and soak in a “buzzy”, glamorous atmosphere. So I was notably disappointed when it closed . It reopened two months ago and I had been dying to go back. It’s hard to believe, but I’d go out on a limb and say the “new” Deck is even better. My Parisian woman friend with very high standards and I were seriously impressed.

 

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First, the owners brought in Alfio Longo, former executive chef of Le Cirque New York and in Casa de Campo. Alfio brought in Marco Maccioni, the son of Sirio who owned and ran Le Cirque in New York, one of “the” places to see and be seen and eat well for many years. Marco joined after running  Le Cirque in New York with his family  and a stint with Andrea Bocelli at their beach restaurant in tony resort area Forte dei Marmi.

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The cuisine is European Mediterranean, the kind Maccioni describes that you’d find at watering holes for owners of pricey yachts in  the French and Italian Rivieras and Spain. Ingredients were top notch. We began the dinner toasting the night that was in store with a glass of Taittinger followed by the Seafood Tower ($50 during happy hour).

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Arugula salad in a parmesan wheel, a standout

Next up was an evening standout, the Tossed Arugula Salad in Cheese Wheel ($39), an arugula salad prepared tableside in a wheel of 24 month aged parmigiano. Tender green leaves were combined with red and yellow endive, radicchio, olives, sweet cherry tomatoes and niçoise olives, all mixed numerous times with the crumbled parmigiano to seamlessly blend everything together.

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Tuna tartare with avocado, mango, mandarin oranges and coconut


 
Though it was a tough act to follow, they rose to the occasion with a refined Tuna Tartare ($25) on a bed of avocado with mandarin oranges, mango, chives and coconut, that was an exciting variety of texture and tastes. I opted for the Smoked Mozzarella Tortelli ($29) one of the day’s specials, house made tortelli filled with smoked mozzarella and topped with basil pesto, aged balsamic vinegar and garnished with bites of prosciutto and caramelized baby figs. It was a perfect combination of sweet, smokey and salty.

For the main dish we selected a new twist on Chilean seabass ($39), made with champagne sauce and topped with caviar, all on a bed of caramelized leeks. The fish was very fresh and melted in your mouth, complemented by the slight sweetness of the leeks and sauce.
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Chilean seabass with champagne sauce topped with caviar on a bed of caramelized leeks


 
We ended the meal with the Chocolate Nemesis ($12), a flourless dark chocolate cake with hazelnut gelato. 

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Chocolate nemesis, flourless chocolate cake

 
This is fine dining, so expect fine dining prices.


A glass of wine (5 ounces) starts at $12; bottles at $45
 
The Deck at Island Gardens is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday nights, lunch on Saturday and brunch on Sunday (prix fixe at $65 per person that includes a mimosa or bellini). Wednesday night there’s live music and dancing and on Sunday during brunch.

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Sparkling Sunset Hour is Wed. to Friday, 6 to 8 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 4 to 6 p.m. Specials include $10 glass Out East Rose, $12 glass Taittinger Brut, $50 Seafood Tower, $2 Oysters (food and cocktail specials rotate weekly)
Note that all seating is outdoors, though awnings and large umbrellas fit the bill when it rains. There are also cabanas for large groups, celebrations and families.
Self parking is $10; valet is $20.

The Deck at Island Gardens, 888 MacArthur Causeway, Watson Island (T.786-627-4949).

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