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Posts Tagged ‘Moderate’


Thursday, April 1st, 2010

5600 Biscayne Boulevard

To date, Andiamo continues to serve one of the best pizzas in an attractive, upscale, modern pizzeria.  All the pizzas are made to order in their brick oven and the ingredients are fresh and the selections are inventive. Bring a friend or two– the pies are 10″, 14″, or 16″.  If you’re not overly carb-conscious, the hot out-of-the-oven parmesan bread and garlic sticks with a warm tomato sauce on the side are scrumptious.  Frankie, one of the owners also serves up a Philly cheese steak named after him and a selection of panini. Free parking available.

Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:00 am – 12:00 am


Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

6789 Biscayne Boulevard

This London based chain has popped up in locations such as Lincoln Road, Mary Brickell Village and S. Miami Avenue. Balans offers reliable and generous portions of familiar dishes such as wild mushroom linguini, penne all’arrabiata and a chicken, spinach and ricotta cannelloni for the pasta course. Grilled eggplant, smothered in tomato, garlic and aged Gruyere, or a Greek platter satisfy as vegetarian dishes in the appetizer category. Not every dish works, but I highly suggest the double cheese soufflé teamed with mixed greens and a citrus dressing. Steaks come lightly charred and served as ordered. There are occasional glitches in service, but the restaurant is attractive and modern.

Sunday – Thursday: 8:00 am – 11:00 pm
Friday – Sunday: 8:00 am – 12:00 am


Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

6730 Biscayne Blvd.
(305) 576-0366

Daniel Serfer, Chef de Cuisine for 5 years at Chef Allens in Aventura, and most recently, 15th Street Fisheries in Fort Lauderdale, has created a much buzzed-about neighborhood restaurant along Biscayne Boulevard. Now open a little more than a year, he is sending out some ambitious, mouthwatering, if oversized, plates in this tiny (25 seats) interior with an additional outdoor patio. Blue Collar certainly implies the working-class are being catered to, but the crowd is also young singles, and families who are joining the crowd for a sampling of Serfer’s widely varied American comfort food.

Appetizers to “nosh on ” seem the perfect place to start. Do not skip the shrimp and grits, which is outfitted with a Piedmontese trugole cheese charged with chunks of bacon, and a New Orleans style bbq sauce.  It doesn’t get any better than this marriage of flavors topped off with lots of local pink shrimp. What blue-collar meal would be complete without a healthy portion of pork and beans and Berkhire sausage under an oozing egg? While “healthy” as in size, not as in “nutrition,” the menu is heavy on carbs and fried foods. The daily chalkboard always includes: Ribs with warm German potato salad, a “Parm,” that could be chicken, veal pork on angel hair with a red sauce, and a Braise which could be a tender brisket, pot roast or ox tails, accompanied by mash potatoes.

I don’t know of another eatery that offers more than 20 different vegetables, and at recession prices of $4.00 a plate. This is a vegetarian paradise of grilled asparagus topped with blue cheese, roasted butternut squash or fennel, sautéed kale and artichoke hearts in a lemon aioli among others. The choice of crispy snapper with rock shrimp, grilled Cobia, and Mahi Mahi are simple and pleasing local offerings.

Thirteen brews from Delaware to Belgium and some old fashioned sodas, such as orange, or black cherry cream soda, numbers among the offerings. The bread pudding is a popular conclusion to the meal.  Be ready for small tables and close quarters, but it’s recommended over the outdoor patio, which is far too close to the Biscayne traffic.

Monday – Friday: 11:30 am – 3:30 pm
Monday – Thursday, Sunday: 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 6:00 pm – 2:00 am
Saturday – Sunday (brunch): 11:00 am – 3:30 pm


Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

3250 Northeast 1st Ave #107
(786) 245-6211

Bocce Bar occupies the location vacated by Sustain, and just a few steps down from Sugarcane on NE 1st Avenue in Midtown.  This is convenient for Executive Chef, Timon Balloo who has been at the helm of the kitchen at Sugarcane Raw Bar and Grill for four years.  Balloo also now presides over this newest Italian addition to the Sushi Samba empire. As the name implies, diners are indeed invited to play out front on Miami’s first bocce court while enjoying dinner al fresco.

Inside, a hostess graciously welcomes those preferring to dine in the main dining room, and leads the way into a large space adjacent to a high energy bar and directly in front of an open kitchen equipped with a brick oven.

A rustic atmosphere prevails, where rickety vintage wooden chairs, tables and worn tiles underfoot, complement mismatched mirrors on the walls.  The staff is very friendly and sometimes, a bit too helpful. The current epidemic of small plates continues here.  Semolina dusted crispy artichokes with mustard seed aoli is a palate pleaser; as was a rich polenta further enhanced by a poached egg and served aside brocolini to balance the richness.

The fromaggi section of the menu offers three cheeses for $22 and includes a ricotta di bufala with English peas, mint and truffles, taleggio accompanied by walnuts, and parmigiano Reggiano with honey and grapes. While Salumi  arrives with a radicchio marmalade and giardiniera, a relish of pickled vegetables. In the pasta category, two homemade pastas appear, pappardelle with mushroom ragu and spaghetti with Key West shrimp, shaved baby artichokes and bottarga.  Handcrafted pasta makes all the difference, but orecchiette with duck and butternut squash, likewise is a good option.

Moving on to the main dishes, the Brasato de Manzo, or slow braised short ribs lacked the intense complex flavors and the melting texture one expects.  Try instead, the lamb shank honey roasted, potato and citrus grilled leeks, or the Murray farm chicken, brick oven roasted with olives, cherry tomatoes and a pan jus you could devour with a giant spoon  This is the real star of the Secondi, bursting with deep flavor and a truly complex character.

One dessert is a must here.  Honey crisp cannelloni served with warm stewed strawberries and 25 year-old balsamic and gelato is a champion recipe not to be missed.  Bocce makes it’s own Limoncello and Amaretto in house, and has a large selection of specialty drinks, many take off from the classic Negroni with Campari as the point of departure.

Monday – Thursday: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Sunday: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm


Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

4582 NE 2nd Avenue

It’s French comfort food served in a 24 seat neighborhood bistro at bohemian prices.  The owner, Claude Postel, is a 7th generation chef and patissier.  The menu and daily specials are listed on a blackboard and  the bistro remains open everyday like true Paris bistros.  Standouts include the market fresh grouper, snapper, and when Claude can find it, the escolar.  Gloria Estefan calls ahead to find out if it’s on the menu that day.  Other favorites include the steak and hand-cut French fries and the tuna tartar for entrees.  Rustic pate (rillette) and crusty baguette, as well as endive and blue cheese salad to start are favorites of the locals. Sundays, a brunch of eggs benedict, French toast or the amazing pastries, all baked next door in the Deli/Bakery, will make you wonder why you haven’t done this before.

Monday: 5 pm – 12 am; Tuesday – Sunday: 11:30 am – 12 am


Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

3930 NE 2nd Ave
(305) 572-9444

Crumb on Parchment, a Michele Bernstein bakery and café, located in the atrium of the Melin building on NE 2nd Avenue that houses cutting edge furniture showrooms.  Early mornings, you’ll find interior designers dining on steel-cut oatmeal and homemade granola.  Other favorites are the French toast baguettes piled high with bananas, candied pecans and maple syrup, and the Croque Madame of melting cheese, Serrano ham, fried egg and béchamel.

You will want to return for the soup, salad and sandwich offerings at lunchtime.  Pulled rotisserie chicken with carmelized onions and apples, seared Ahi Tuna accompanied by kimchi aioli and grilled portobello mushroom with onion and kale, round out the “Hot and Messy” category.  Classic home-style sandwiches include a comprehensive list of chicken salad, turkey, homemade roast beef, “BLATs”, (add avocado to the traditional BLT), tuna salad and gooey grilled cheese. Fresh salads include a rustic Greek salad, Caesar, “Green Goddess” chicken, and a Greek style tuna salad.

Pastries and desserts are all lovingly made in- house. In any cookie competition, their chocolate chip takes first place. Mischy’s “Mama B” coconut cake with cream cheese icing will leave you dreaming about your next piece.

Monday – Friday: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm


Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

3470 North Miami Avenue

A well-edited menu offers up urban chic Asian fare at a reasonable price. The chef, Jeff McInnis is a veteran of top chef and the Ritz Carlton. Your waiter texts your order to the chef, while you dine from communal tables. The design is minimal with steel columns and aluminum bistro chairs. Short rib meatloaf drizzled with soy molasses has already become the signature dish, but don’t hesitate to try the outstanding coconut infused risotto nestling a slowly braised duck leg accented with curry. “Gigi” bao buns, an Asian take on the ubiquitous beef ”sliders” come crowned with tasty pulled pork dusted with peanuts, pulled chicken with a smoky plantain sauce, or filled with shitaki mushrooms. Service is good and the waiters are knowledgeable concerning the ingredients and preparations. The dishes are, for the most part, quite flavorful and the side dishes, such as the cauliflower and Brussel sprouts, still linger in my thoughts. Nothing is over $20.00 and 25% of the menu is under $5.00.

The downside, for many a diner here, is the din of the chatter and bottleneck of human traffic waiting for tables, in a sliver of a holding area. Gigi’s is the latest from restauranteur, Amir Ben-Zion of Bardots, a lounge nearby, Sra Martinez and South beach’s Bond St. Sapporo and Stella Artois are on tap.

Monday – Friday: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Monday – Thursday: 6:00 pm – 3:00 am
Friday and Saturday: 6:00 pm – 5:00 am


Thursday, April 1st, 2010

2506 NW 2nd Avenue

Hip eatery in the heart of the Wynnwood Art district (adjacent to the Design district.) with an open kitchen serving Italian specialties from the Veneto region. Chef Ivo Mazzone, churns out thin crusted pizzas and foccacia in his gigantic oven and crafts home-made pastas in the early morning hours to bring to you that day. You’ll find a side patio lined with trees and dressed with lights in the evening.  Local artists and gallerists frequent this noisy spot.  Many items are offered in half portions to accommodate a modest budget. Farmhouse fare includes oven-roasted Cornish hen, beef stew with polenta and cod with eggplant and tomatoes.

Monday – Friday: 11:30 am – 3:30 pm
Monday – Thursday: 6 pm – 10 pm
Friday – Saturday 6:00 pm – 11:30 pm


Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

4312 2nd Avenue

An authentic Aegean bistro, this family owned neighborhood restaurant is a great casual find.  Decompress in the garden in the back under a sprawling tree where mezes, either the Turkish or Greek sampler are a great way to begin.  Enjoy generous sized portions of lemony fava bean puree, smoked eggplant, tzatziki, hummus with the sesame-flecked Turkish flatbread served hot from the oven.  The staff is friendly, the prices are reasonable and the classic dishes couldn’t be better. There’s Turkish chorizo, grilled octopus, fried calamari and a great zucchini fritter.  Fresh whole fish simply grilled is offered daily.  Try some of the traditional dishes such as  tasty spanokopita (spinach and feta pie) and kefte (beef and lamb meatballs.)  The seafood, tiny mussels in a classic white wine and garlic sauce deserve a repeat visit.

Just beyond the garden, a new indoor dining room has been added to accommodate the overflow Mandolin’s great popularity creates.

This charming 1940’s blue and white house reminded me of a seaside tavern on the Aegean Coast.   The lantern- laden back garden makes you forget the undistinguished neighborhood.   The friendly service brings you back.

Monday – Saturday: 12 pm – 11 pm


Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

3252 NE 1st Avenue

Southern Mexican style tapas in a handsome new space, continues to enliven the Midtown area.  A good place to start is the guacamole, either traditional or one of 4  alternative, inventive ways.  Jicama and mango or apple and tomatillo with almond and habanero add brightness and fire to this old standard.

There are 11 different tacos to choose from and three perfect ceviches to cleanse and cool the palate.  Save room for the main course,” platos fuertes,” where a chile relleno is stuffed with scallops and shrimp and drizzled with roasted tomato-arbol salsa. Don’t pass up the adobe marinated, organic chicken as too simple, it’s terrific-flavorful and moist. A nice lead-in to the mains are the “botanas,” or hot snacks of quesadillas, tostadas or flautas accompanied by tasty homemade corn  tortillas or lettuce wraps.  The service is friendly and able, so don’t be afraid to ask about the menu.

Monday – Wednesday and Sunday: 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Thursday: 11:30 am -  1:00 am

Friday and Saturday: 11:30 am – 2 :00 am


Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

4141 NE 2nd Avenue

Dena Marino of Mc Kitchen has launched a charming, casual breakfast and lunch petite cafe on Second Avenue, adjacent to her fine-dining establishment. This fills a void in the Design District which had few options for high quality, quick takeout or very casual eat in restaurants.  The neighborhood business people are overjoyed. The menus is limited to sandwiches served on croissants or mulitgrain baguettes.  Fillers include roasted turkey, Swiss cheese with fruited mustard a and local arugula($10) or rosemary Cotta ham, provolone, local arugula and mustard seed aioli.($9)

“Pressatas,” (pressed sandwiches) such as the Cubano, with shaved porchetta, Cotto ham, melted Swiss and Brooklyn pickles for the carnivore, or marinated and grilled garden vegetables, raise the bar on grilled sandwiches.  Three salads are on the menu at $9-$11 and ask for the  soup of the day, if you call for takeout.  Cream of cauliflower, sampled recently, was an elegant rendition. All the salads are as fresh as spring after a light rain. Free Wi-Fi are available.

Luscious looking pastries and a Lazzaro coffee should fit the bill for the afternoon tea time.

Monday -Friday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm


Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

2519 Northwest 2nd Avenue
(786) 703-3409

An informal cafe called Mmmm, has sprouted just across the street from Joey’s Cafe and the Wynwood Kitchen and Bar.  It’s a Parisian interpretation of the small plates craze. Mmmm presents exceptional salads and sandwiches that are nuanced and urbane adaptations of American and French classics.

This venture is the creation of Parisian-born art collector Cathy Vedovi, whose family has been coming to Miami since the 20′s, when her French-Canadian grandparents would head South to escape the harsh winters. Vedovi was inspired by a similar Parisian tartine shop next door to the Poilene Bakery on the left bank.

This is where hot pink neon (the outdoor signage) and tropical banana leaves on the exterior set the stage for Miami’s introduction to the tastiest lunch to be had in the area. The focus is on “tartines”, defined and refined by the French as a “slice of bread.”  As in Paris, a perfectly toasted slice of poilene bread,  a country sour dough bread, is topped with choices that include filet mignon, salmon or pulled pork among others; and held together with amazing swaths of homemade mayonnaise customized for each protein.

Chef Alan McLennan, is a native of South Africa who knows how to balance the distinctive flavors, and his creative touches invariably work.  Chunks of mushrooms and artichoke hearts are paired with a lusty tapenade, thin slices of grilled chicken over lemony mayonnaise are finished with a sun dried tomato and micro greens.  Smoked salmon, on a tartine of course, marries well with grainy mustard mayonnaise, fennel and a touch of dill. Why not celebrate the contrasts of flavors and textures with a decadent glass of Billecart-Salmon Rosé champagne?

Four salads and one soup are presently offered and the three salads sampled measured up admirably to the mouthwatering tartines.  Shanghai chicken salad with ginger hoisin dressing on Nappa cabbage, Nicoise salad and Cobb salad were all extremely fresh and beautifully presented.

Salads and tartines range from $10-$15. A $10 lunchtime special is available, serving the soup of the day and a half portion of the tartine of your choice. Desserts include a flourless chocolate cake accented with a smear of fresh raspberry sauce and a coconut cake.  A big draw at the entrance is a cooler stocked with Azucar ice-cream made right here in Miami’s Little Havanna. Lavazza coffee makes a nice finish to an inventive lunch in a charming new dining spot. Outdoor dining is also available in the courtyard.

Closed Sunday
Monday – Saturday: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm


Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

28 NE 29th Street

Morgans, on the border of Wynwood and the upbeat MidTown area,  boasts a ”modern take on American comfort food.” Named after the owner’s Mom, this 1930’s home conversion features a wide, wrap around porch for outdoor dining and a small interior dining area with a minimalist decor.  The restaurant originally opened it’s doors for weekend brunch and the crowds flocked here for brioche French toast, maple basted bacon and” voluptuous” grilled cheese.  Lunch offers a wide range of sandwiches, soups and pizzas.

The dinner menu is an ambitious one for a small restaurant offering a wide range of options sure to please everyone, whether it’s date night or a family gathering.  Laquered wild salmon, coconut mussels and half a lemon grilled chicken, along with a NY strip and a Moroccan stew with merguez sausage are just a few of the oh-so-tempting entries. Service could be better; we’ll give them more time for training.  Weekend Brunch is still a very hot item.

Tuesday – Thursday: 11:00 am – 10 pm; Friday: 11:00 am – 11 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am – 11:00 pm; Sunday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm


Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

35 Northeast 40th St
(786) 391-1818

Oak Tavern is a comfy rustic new entry in the heart of the Design District.  A brick archway opens onto a pleasant garden with a namesake oak tree springing from the center courtyard.  Taverns of Yore were seldom known for serving creative, or high quality fare. The weary traveler was more focused on the bar and beds. Such is not the case here, at David Bracha’s modern day version, where the food is surprisingly tasty. Bracha’s River Seafood and Oyster Bar has been a staple on Brickell for more than 10 years, and he knows his way with a crustacean.  Oysters and stone crabs head up the list, “Jewels from the Sea,” but the scallop and snapper crudos are equally well presented and pristinely fresh from the sea.

A long list of small plates to satisfy everyone provides a strong supporting cast.  Bistro fare such as deviled eggs, rabbit pâté, and crispy pigs ears with kale compete for your attention. Try a perfect offering of beets with whipped goat cheese, arugula and pistachio vinaigrette, along with an heirloom tomato salad with sheep’s milk feta. Bracha’s has been one of Miami’s earliest chefs to embrace buying his produce from the area farmers. Pizzas are a standout; my pick for the best is duck confit, mushrooms, oozing Fontina, and a bit of truffle, on a crisp and thin crust.

On one visit, the tavern’s wood grill yielded a perfectly grilled Cobia topped with a medley of peas in a light lemon olive oil, and it was a triumph. Whole branzino at $34 is in keeping with their moderate prices.  The charcuterie offerings are crafted in-house, and the restaurant is justly proud of  this area of the menu.  Each is accompanied by marinated olives, mustard pickled fruit and country bread. The emphasis at this gastropub is craft beers, so enjoy one of the twenty microbrews and 10 draft beers on tap. Their Happy Hour should not be missed.

Monday – Thursday: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Friday – Saturday: 6:00 pm – 12:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am – 2:30 pm, 6:00 pm – 10:30 pm


Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

2923 Biscayne Boulevard
(305) 573-9637

Miami now has a number of Peruvian restaurants, but this one feels like the real thing. From the moment you enter; you are confronted by clusters of Peruvian families engaged in conversations while sipping the traditional fruit juices, a glass of sangria or perhaps the native cerveza Cusquena.  The restaurant is small, and the tables are close together. Pictures of Peruvian families grace the walls. A poster lists all the fruit juices with translations into English.   The waitress offers to explain the menu with a welcoming smile.

Traditionally, Peruvians might start with papas a la huancaina, a saffron colored cheese sauce.  Sharing is an especially good idea here as with all the dishes as the portions are enormous.  Jump start the meal with a refreshing citrus marinated ceviche de pescado which was a striped bass on one occasion, then move on to the soups.  Two outstanding choices are the Parihuela, a fish and seafood soup that overwhelms the senses with a deep and lusty broth and overflowing with bass, shrimp, large and small, squid, and mussels, or the Aguadito de Mariscos, an exotic, bright green cilantro broth chockfull of seafood.

Serious carnivors should try the Lomo Saltado; the house recommended dish of beef loin, sliced, sautéed and served like a giant stew piled high with peppers, onions and French fries.

Parking is in the rear and several tables exist outside on busy Biscayne.

Monday – Thursday: 10:00 am – 11:00pm
Friday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 12:30 am
Sunday: 8:00 am – 11:00 pm


Thursday, April 1st, 2010

5556 NE 4th Court
305 759-3117

The owner, Mark Soyka, originally purchased this warehouse in 1999 to house his collection of vintage cars and one day in 1999 decided to transition it to restaurant status, a pioneering idea at the time.  It has had its ups and downs. We are encouraged by the pleasant staff that greeted us and who related that the restaurant is under new management. A new chef has been hired away from a very popular local watering hole.  This huge, high ceilinged room with massive steel beams  and leather banquets focuses its menu on comfort food.  One recent special was the lobster risotto with crab, peas and saffron and baked pompano with ginger soy.  Happy hour is from 3-7PM and the restaurant is opened daily.

Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Friday and Saturday: 11:00 am – 12:00 am


Thursday, April 1st, 2010

3451 NE 1st Avenue

Over 150 of the world’s greatest cheeses to choose from as well as a long list of sandwiches—applewood bacon, North Atlantic salmon, cheddar melts and an array of omlets.  One of the great options is the cheese plate organized by country or by category (mild, medium or bold,) The more adventurous can create their own combination and the staff will make appropriate wine pairings either by the glass or the bottle.  Even the salads can be chosen from a list of classic salads from 6 different countries.  This is also a retail operation with a great selection of jams, spreads, olives and honey from around the world.

Monday – Friday: 10:30 am – 9 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10:30 am – 10 pm


Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

2550 NW 2nd Avenue

Debuting during Art Basel 2010 is this American style brasserie in the heart of the gallery district. The bar and adjacent dining room reverberate with the murals and paintings of street art provocateur, Shephard Fairey and the abstract paintings by the architect, Christian Awe. Outdoors, a spacious courtyard provides a third alternative on one of Miami’s many warm weather days. Here too, murals capture the eye in every direction.

Wynwood Kitchen and Bar is the creation of the late Tony Goldman and his daughter, Jessica Goldman Srebnick. Tony, who was also owner of Joey’s Café in Wynwood, was the ambitious developer who helped transform Soho and Chelsea in NYC into hip cultural neighborhoods.

Small plates are a hit here. Crispy artichokes, tomato gazpacho accented with watermelon, the Mediterranean platter( hummas, baba ghanoush and tabbouleh ) and a seafood ceviche bathed in lemongrass and coconut are all outstanding beginnings.

The menu serves both lunch and dinner and covers all bases from a choice of 6 omelettes to hearty burgers of beef, tuna, turkey and more.  The clay pots such as snapper and mussel curry with charred pineapple and braised pork with garlic crumbs and mint were surprisingly good. Brunch is Saturday only.

Monday – Saturday: 11:30 am – 4:30 pm; 5:30 pm – 12:00 am