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It wasn’t always a life goal for Ilkay Suuctugu to be a chef, but once she stepped foot in the kitchen, there was no going back. Born and raised in Turkey, Suuctugu studied Culinary Science and Hospitality Management before moving to America to work as a Prep Cook for the Marriott Hutchinson Island Beach Resort, Golf & Marina. She barely knew English then, but by 2010, after a lot of hard work and talent in the kitchen, she had worked her way up to Banquet Chef, where she was executing large-scale events at that same property.

Fast-forward to 2019, when Suuctugu’s skill and determination led to her appointment as Sous Chef at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, as well as Sous Chef of Tropicale at The Miami Beach EDITION, and later, Executive Sous Chef of all The Miami Beach EDITION’s food and beverage outlets. In between, she assisted with the opening of The Bodrum EDITION (Turkey) and The Times Square EDITION (NYC), was named Global Chef of the Year 2018 for all Marriott International properties and was even selected to present as part of an Executive Tasting Panel for Marriott Chairman Bill Marriott and CEO Arne Sorenson.

Today, Suuctugu reigns as Executive Chef of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Matador Room. And while we still have her here in the Magic City, we sat down with the rising star—because a star is exactly what she is—to find out more about her life in the kitchen. Here’s what she had to say:

DO: “What inspired you to become a chef? Do you remember the moment you decided to make it a career?”
IS: “Becoming a chef was not my plan. However, when I landed in a kitchen, I felt at home and found my comfort zone. With each day that passed, my passion for cooking grew. It was then that I decided to pursue a career in the culinary world.”

“Coming from Turkey, what was the biggest challenge you faced in becoming a chef in the United States?”
“Being from a different background, the language barrier was the biggest challenge. Also, as a new cook, I had to learn different techniques and cooking methods I didn’t know before.”

“Do you have a favorite dish on the menu at Matador Room? If so, what is it?”
“My favorite dish on the menu is the Crispy Octopus with a toasted seed yogurt dressing. It reminds me of home!”

“What’s the one kitchen tool you can’t live without, and why?”
“My Chef’s Knife is one of my most precious kitchen tools, as each recipe requires a specific cut in order to be executed properly.”

“What is your absolute favorite thing about helming the kitchen at Matador Room?”
“It means so much to me to be able to inspire and motivate my team and share my knowledge with them. My hope is that, by working together, they all become better chefs.”

“What advice do you have for other female chefs trying to get where you are today?”
“I say this to any female chef: You should speak up and have your voice heard! Don’t be shy or compare yourself to others. Let people see who you truly are and what you are capable of. Although kitchens are mostly run by men, we as women shouldn’t be scared to show our skills, accomplish our goals, and be successful, too.”

By Jennifer Agress, a contributing writer

An entrepreneurial spirit fuels her life as a baker, educator, and writer

It was Pamela Wasabi’s diagnosis of a thyroid condition at just 19 years old, along with her eventual pregnancy, that paved the way for her current life path. After ignoring her thyroid condition for years, once she became pregnant with her daughter, she realized she had to take action. Never good in the kitchen—admitting she was actually banned from the kitchen by her mother—Wasabi learned to cook out of necessity.

In an effort to provide her daughter with a healthy entry into the world, Wasabi studied everything she could about wholesome cooking and baking. The phrase, “To control your health, you have to control your ingredients and to control your ingredients, you have to cook your own food,” stuck with her. Her new mantra, intense studying, and practice in the kitchen led to her founding Pamela Wasabi Bakery, a wholesale bakery of plant-based and gluten-free desserts that quickly grew in popularity and is now distributed throughout three counties in South Florida.

She’s also the author of Nourished: The Plant-Based Path to Health and Happiness, which explores people’s relationships with food and the environment. Wasabi is currently working on her second title, Returning to the Wild Woman, which expands on women’s food challenges and body-image issues.

She sat down to chat with DiningOut Magazine about her childhood in Colombia, her path to founding the bakery, and her mentor, an iconic name in Miami’s restaurant industry:

DO: What inspired you to take this particular culinary path?
Wasabi: I did not have a good relationship with the kitchen or what cooking was about. Where I grew up in Colombia, eating meat was a priority but I never liked meat, not even the smell of it. Then there was the thyroid disorder diagnosis and eventually, after living in the United States for nearly twelve years, I got pregnant. Doctors told me because of my condition, I couldn’t have a natural childbirth, so I started looking for answers and came across a nutrition school. Learning to cook and bake for myself revolutionized my life; it helped rid me of my condition.
I immediately saw a shift in the way I related to food, what I was thinking about, and the food itself. The condition was a wake-up call to take care of myself. Our relationship with food has to be about communication, quality, and how we see ourselves. We have to take care of ourselves because ultimately, no one else is going to be there for us; it’s our own responsibility.

What was the journey like from cooking at home to ultimately owning the bakery?
It was my way out, a way to survive. I used to work in fashion, and eventually quit and got myself a job in a coffee shop, and later got hired as a cook. I became Chef de Cuisine of Jugo Fresh but after a while was let go, so I began meal prepping as a private chef. Unfortunately, the fast pace brought back my thyroid condition and I realized in order to heal I needed to slow down. I evaluated what my next step would be and how I could have control of my own career. I thought, perhaps I could do wholesale, and I created a menu and offered my goods to Panther Coffee. I made brownies, cookies, and muffins, and Panther said they wanted to try the cookie and they loved it. They started carrying my cookie and the rest was knocking on doors, one cookie at a time, and it grew organically from there. I grew and I healed as well.
That led to me being invited to participate in the Seed Food and Wine Festival, where I was prepping food in Ken Lyon’s kitchen. I got acquainted with Ken, which led to me asking if I could use his kitchen to prep for a catering gig. He eventually became my mentor and has been supporting me for the past eight years.

In the eight years since you began working with Ken, how has your business grown, and where can people find your products?
Panther Coffee now carries my vegan and gluten-free cookies, muffins, and cupcakes at all their Miami locations.
Additionally, my products are in 50-60 locations around Miami. Love Life carried several of my desserts and is one of my top-selling locations, and Charlie’s Vegan Tacos also carries my desserts. I also created the menu for the new Japanese restaurant in The Standard Hotel, including Lava Bean Chocolate Cake, Lychee Cheesecake, and Almond Crumble. Additionally, MC Kitchen in the Design District carries my Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake, Apple Cobbler, and Trail Mix Bar.
I like to use wholesome, exotic ingredients—charcoal salt in my Chocolate Chip Cookie, roasted pistachios and sea salt in my Lavender Cookie, and smoked salt and wild cherries in my Double Chocolate Chip Cookie.

How are you able to expand your menu to this size?
It is a very organic process, and it’s about being creative and building relationships with restaurants whose concept I love, then mutually helping each other. The bakery has grown to carry about 11 cookies and brownies and has another 10-12 items including cheesecakes, fruitcakes, muffins, tiramisu, and cupcakes—a whole range of desserts. There’s one main baker, two baking assistants, and a driver for deliveries, so it’s essentially a five-person operation.

Read more about Pamela Wasabi Bakery and her latest ventures, writings, and philosophies at www.pamelawasabi.com.

By Josie Gulliksen, Contributing Writer

You don’t have to wait until the weekend to get your drink on when you live in Miami. Because there are so many options, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite happy hour spots in the city for you, so you can focus less on scouring Yelp and more on deciding how many cocktails are acceptable on a Wednesday night. The best part? These bars and restaurants aren’t just known for delicious tipples and wallet-saving deals — they also serve up incredible eats. Raise a glass to that.

Bourbon Steak

If you live or work in the Aventura area, head to Bourbon Steak between 5 and 7 p.m. on weekdays and sip your fill of house wine for just $10 a glass in the bar and lounge area. And come with an appetite, because you’ll also get to dig into an off-menu selection of burgers by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Mina, all priced at $21. If you’re feeling adventurous, go for the Falafel Burger.

Details: Bourbon Steak is located at JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, 19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura, FL. For reservations, call 786-279-6600 or visit www.bltprime.com.

Corsair Kitchen + Bar

This American-inspired kitchen and bar spotlight comfort food that’s light and good for you. And during happy hour — served daily from 3 pm – 6 pm — it’s all about $9 specialty cocktails, $5 draft beers, $7 house wine by the glass, and specially-priced bites like a signature burger, a fresh Mediterranean platter, creamy mac ‘n’ cheese, wings and more, all for $10.

Details: Corsair is located at JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, 19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura, FL. For reservations, call 786-279-6800.

Isabelle’s Grill Room & Garden

A lush garden oasis at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Isabelle’s is one of Miami’s top spots for date night. It also hosts one of the best ladies’ night specials in town. Every Wednesday, gather up your gal squad and sip $5 rose in the terrace from 5-10 p.m. Make sure you save room for some shareable plates off the restaurant’s Secret Garden menu, like Mediterranean-inspired mezzes, raw oysters, lollipop chicken wings, crisp artichoke, and buttery gambas al ajillo — starting at $11.

Details: Isabelle’s Grill Room & Garden is located at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, 3300 Southwest 27th Avenue, Coconut Grove. For reservations, call 305-400-0562 or visit www.isabellescoconutgrove.com. Guests receive a discounted rate of $7 for valet with validation.

Pizza & Burger by Michael Mina

Social Hour Room

Social Hour at Pizza & Burger by Michael Mina has one of the best-loved drinking deals in Miami Beach. All you have to do is purchase a specialty cocktail from 5-7 p.m. (and then again from 11 p.m. until midnight), and you’ll get your second drink for just $1. If you want to snack while you sip, try some of the amazing eats off Pizza & Burger’s Bar Bites menu. Think Beer Bratwurst with grain mustard aioli for just $8, al Tartufo waffle fries with truffled pecorino and truffle oil for $12, and crispy chicken chicharrones with garlic shallot mignonette for $15.

Details: Pizza & Burger by Michael Mina is located at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. For reservations, call 305-674-4636 or visit https://fontainebleau.com/dining/pizza-burger.

Stripsteak by Michael Mina

If you’re craving a more elevated post-work power-hour, head to Stripsteak. Also located at Fontainebleau, this classic meat-lovers’ haven hosts a Cigar Social on the terrace, where you can enjoy a cigar-and-spirit pairing starting at $25. Go the extra mile and order some east or west coast oysters, some truffle-flavored steak tartar, or Chef Mina’s take on “instant bacon” — Braised Pork Belly served with Smoked Pineapple and Radish Salad or Splurge and go for the Imperial Seafood Tower — a whole Maine Lobster with Lobster Salad, Chilled Shrimp, a dozen Oysters, King Crab and Tuna Tartar for $150.

Details: Stripsteak by Michael Mina is located at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. For reservations, call 305-674-4641.

Lobster Bar Sea Grille

Famous for its fresh seafood offerings, Lobster Bar Sea Grille is a go-to for special occasion meals and upscale client dinners. It’s also hotspot among those looking to grab affordable and delicious drinks every day. You read that right — Twilight Happy Hour at Lobster Bar Sea Grille runs daily from 5:30-8 p.m. and features specials like $6 wine by the glass, $8 spirits, $4 domestic beers, and $7 specialty cocktails — the fancy kind, with ingredients like lavender petals, rosemary-basil essence, and mint-infused ice. There are plenty of delectable small bites to choose from, too, including lobster buns, oysters and crispy-thin tartes, all starting at $5.

Details: Lobster Bar Sea Grille is located at 404 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach. For reservations, call 305-377-2675 or visit buckheadrestaurants.com.

Amare Ristorante

Amare Dining Room

Regulars at Amare love Michelin-starred chef Cosimo Cassano’s coastal Italian dishes, like the Cappellacci Di Branzino, a Ravioli stuffed with sea bass, mascarpone, butter, sage and lemons from Sorrento, and the Torta di Formaggio, a decadent Ricotta Cream Cheesecake made with Strega Liqueur and best-paired with a Double Espresso Chocolate Martini. But mouthwatering food isn’t the only reason to make a beeline for this Miami Beach mainstay. The restaurant recently launched Apericena Hour every Tuesday and Thursday from 6-8 p.m., offering $9 Aperol Spritzes and Negronis, $8 select wine by the glass, and $7 Peroni.

Details: Amare Ristorante is located at 1 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. For reservations, call 786-598-8622.

By Amanda Mesa, a contributing writer

What is a mocktail? Well, it’s an alcohol-free drink still offering the Miami party appeal. Before you say, “yuck,” believe us when we tell you these are some of the best Miami mocktails you’ll actually want to drink and not just look at. Whatever the reason–designated driver for the night, pregnant, dieting, looking for a fun drink for the kids–here are some of the best-sophisticated mocktails to sip on while you’re out on the town and you can even re-create them at home.

Esotico Miami

esotico miami
If You Like Piña Coladas

About the Restaurant: Take a trip to the islands of Hawaii by experiencing tropical chow and exotic cocktails at the new tiki spot in Miami, Esotico. Located in Miami’s A&E District, Esotico is decorated with Hawaiian surfboards and lush greenery, creating the ultimate “tiki experience.” Enjoy unique cocktails served in volcanoes, pineapple mugs, tiki cannibal bowls, treasure chests, and more! Can we all say, “ALOHA!”

Mocktail: If You Like Piña Coladas
What’s in it? Creamy and sweet, delicious on your palate. Made with real ginger syrup, the real cream of coconut, pineapple juice, lime juice, coconut water, a sexy touch of ginger, and a pinch of salt. Shake with crushed ice or slushy machine serve in a pineapple or squall glass. Don’t forget to garnish with a cocktail umbrella, pineapple wedge, and cinnamon powder.

[1600 NE 1st Avenue Miami; esoticomiami.com]

Sugar Factory American Brasserie

Lollipop Passion Goblet

About the Restaurant: Celebrated for their sweets and treats, dine amongst celebrities like the Kardashian’s, the Jenner’s, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and so many more. Sugar Factory American Brasserie, located at the Victor Hotel, serves up everything from crepes, to burgers, salads, and pizza. But, the desserts and drinks are making waves. The presentations are outrageously over the top and of course, decadently delicious. Get your Instagram ready…your followers will thank you.

Mocktail: Lollipop Passion Goblet
What’s in it? This delicious bubbly concoction is made with pineapple juice, sour mix, and sprite to create a true taste of the tropics that’s as fun to look at as it is to drink. For the final touch, the goblet is garnished with lollipops and a candy necklace. We’ve got a crush on this sugar rush!

[1144 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach; sugarfactory.com]

The Sylvester

Phoenix Mocktail at Slyvester

About the Restaurant: Brought to Midtown by the same owner’s behind the popular restaurant, Beaker & Gray, is the Sylvester – a spot where vintage is embraced and encouraged. Comfortable seating, classic cocktails with “new-level techniques” and fun bites that celebrate Miami’s culture is the goal behind the retro bar with antique furniture and tropical touches at every turn.

Mocktail: Phoenix
What’s in it? Coconut cream, honey, pineapple, watermelon, grapefruit. Even without the alcohol, are you ready to rise and fly like a phoenix?

[3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami; thesylvesterbar.com]

Le Jardinier

The PSL (The Pumpkin Spice Version)

About the Restaurant: Located in Miami’s Arts District, Le Jardinier is as forward-thinking in cuisine as it is in ambiance. With a vegetable-focused menu, feel as though you’re dining in a modern greenhouse. The interior elements are one-of-a-kind, complimenting dishes that utilize the highest quality vegetables, seasonal ingredients, and fresh herbs and cocktails made with teas, fresh fruit, and house-made bitter tinctures.

Mocktail: The PSL (The Pumpkin Spice Version)
Cold-brew shaken with toasted pumpkin seed, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, and cream. Who said PSL’s are basic? Not us!

[151 NE 41st St suite 135, Miami; lejardinier-miami.com]

La Cocina


About the Cocktail Bar: After collaborating with some of the best mixologists in Miami-Dade County, the product is: La Cocina Coctelería. Located in Hialeah, it’s the city’s first eccentric coctelería that celebrates the area’s history. Created by the same team behind LoKal, Kush, Spillover, Vicky’s House and Stephen’s Delicatessen, the cocktail bar celebrates the 305. We should also mention that the suite number is 305. Coincidence? No, it’s meant to be!

Mocktail: Quinceanera
What’s in it? Guava, lemon, and coconut water.

[1000 East 16th Street, Suite #305; lacocinahialeah.com]

Lido Bayside Grill

Limonda De Coco

About the Restaurant: There’s nothing standard about the Lido Bayside Grill at the Standard Spa. Situated on the water, Lido is paying homage to the Japanese diet and lifestyle – quality healthy food and vitamin C. Lido prides itself as being the perfect place to “gather with good friends, good food and good drinks.” On a menu that’s guided by locally sourced seafood and seasonal produce, citrus and fermentation are woven throughout the dishes. Whether you’re looking to indulge in options from the raw bar, chilled dishes, fried options, or grilled, you’ll be transported to a relaxing oasis the second you step foot on the property.

Mocktail: Limonda De Coco
What’s in it? Coconut milk, syrup and lime juice. Loco for this limonda de coco!

[The Standard Spa, 40 Island Ave, Miami Beach; standardhotels.com/miami/features/bayside-grill]

By Loren Gutentag and Kathy Buccio, contributing writers

Shrimp Linguine from Seaspice

serves one
5 Jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 oz fresh linguine (dry linguine can be substituted)
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 lemon, zested
1/2 lemon, juiced (plus one squeeze of lemon juice, for garnish)
1 plum tomato, peeled and diced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
3 oz white wine
2 oz olive oil
3 oz shrimp or chicken stock
3 oz butter
Salted boiling water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 oz chives, chopped, for garnish
Salmon roe, for garnish

Add one ounce olive oil to sauté pan and sear shrimp on both sides. Remove shrimp from the pan. Add another ounce of olive oil, along with the garlic, shallot, tomato, crushed red pepper, and lemon zest. Lightly sauté until sauce is translucent. Deglaze the sauce with white wine and let it reduce by half. Add stock and let the sauce reduce by another half. Add salt and pepper. Let it sit.
Cook fresh linguine in salted boiling water for three minutes, or if using dry pasta, for 11 minutes. Drain. Coat the cooked linguine with butter. Add shrimp back to the sauté pan with the sauce, then combine that with the buttered linguine, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese in a serving bowl. Twirl the pasta mixture, adding in excess shrimp and sauce while you do.
To serve: Garnish with chives, a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, and salmon roe. Serve warm.
Seaspice is located at 422 NW North River Drive.


Steak & Eggs at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar

Steak & Eggs at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar

Here is all of the food news you can get excited about in Miami this week:

Last Week of Miami Spice!
You only have until the end of September to take advantage of Miami’s most raved-about foodie season, Miami Spice. From now through September 30, checkout your favorite restaurants—like StripSteak by Michael Mina, db Bistro Moderne, Tamarina and 200+ more—for lunch or dinner, and get three-course prix-fixe meals for $23 and $39, respectively. For a real treat, head to one of our favorites, GK Bistronomie {218 NW 25th Street, Wynwood; 786.477.5151} and find modern Peruvian plates, like lobster empanadas and crispy pork belly with sundried potato “stew,” on the Spice menu.

Barley an American Brasserie Opens Its Doors
A new restaurant, Barley an American Brasserie {8945 SW 72 Place, Miami; 786.623.6733}, the latest culinary venture by Chef Jorgie Ramos, opened its doors this week. Located in Downtown Dadeland, this haute gastropub will serve rustic Americana comfort food with Latin and Asian influences: from charred octopus with seaweed, miso aioli, and a farro salad, to braised beef tongue with yucca mofongo and sofrito salad, lamb neck filet doused in a horseradish tzatziki, and the Latin burger topped with chorizo cantimpalo, sweet plantains, manchego, and a chimichurri aioli. Go there for its daily mac ‘n’ cheese rotation and specialty craft beer, cocktail and boutique wine menu, and stay for the relaxed vibes and hearty, creative cuisine. 

National Pizza Month Starts Saturday, October 1st
This Saturday is the start of an entire month dedicated to pizza – and that’s something we believe everyone should celebrate. Don’t know where to go? Try Dolce Italian {1690 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 786.975.2550}, on Miami Beach. It has a Tartufata Pizza that puts a unique twist on the classic cheese variety with savory blanca cheese, speck, spicy salami and truffle. Another delicious option is La Moderna {1874 Bay Road, Miami Beach; 786.717.7274}, where you can enjoy their traditional, but unparalleled, Margherita Pizza in a casual-chic setting. 

Ocio Launches New Happy Hour
Miami’s favorite new escape, Ocio {3399 NW 72nd Avenue, Doral; 786.360.4468} is unveiling a happy hour at its secluded and chic retreat. Tucked away in Doral, this Italian-driven locale invites guests to come on Thursday and Friday nights, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., and get a complimentary appetizer with the purchase of a glass of wine or beer. With your glass, delight in plates like fried mozzarella with homemade marinara sauce, Antipasto (salami, capicola, prosciutto, parmesan cheese, artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers), or the Octopus Carpaccio, thinly-sliced octopus with capers and steeped in an aromatic lemon vinaigrette.

Sunday Brunch at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
Between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Sundays, there’s nowhere better to be than brunch at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar {2550 NW 2nd Avenue, Wynwood; 305.722.8959}. Order Latin-inspired dishes like the Wynwood Benedict with poached egg, crabmeat, chipotle hollandaise sauce and polenta, or the Tostada with a sunny side-up egg, tomato puree, black beans, cojita cheese and crema. You can never go wrong with the locale’s Steak & Eggs, a grilled skirt steak served with a fried egg and yucca frita, and whatever you do, pair it with a breakfast cocktail. Our personal favorites are the Prosecco cocktails—you get a nice glass of Prosecco flavored with your choice of Hibiscus, Palomimosa, Applish or Blue Pisco.

By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor


Mark your calendars! It’s time for beer.

For a feast like no other, beer lovers are invited to join Chef Clark Bowen, of Downtown Miami’s db Bistro Moderne {255 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Downtown Miami; 305.421.8800}, as he teams up with Wynwood Brewing Company for a one-time-only four-course beer pairing dinner. Taking place on Tuesday, October 18, at Daniel Boulud’s Miami outpost, fans of Chef Bowen can indulge in the following menu:


Fried Green Tomatoes
Shrimp Ceviche
Mushroom Arancini
Beer Pairing: La Rubia, American Blonde Ale


Course 1: Florida Figs with Burrata, rocket coulis, and focaccia tuile
Beer Pairing: Guava the Hut, Berliner Weiss

Course 2: Local Pompano with confit fennel, blistered tomatoes, and lemon
Beer Pairing: Wyntoberfest, Märzen

Course 3: Pork Tasting with roasted shoulder, beer sausage, and baby carrots
Beer Pairing: Wynwood Fox, Imperial Red Ale

Course 4: Chocolate Opera Cake with a chocolate biscuit, coffee cream, and vanilla ice cream
Beer Pairing: Pop’s Porter, Robust Porter

This event will kick-off with a reception at 7pm, followed by dinner at 7:30pm. The cost is $60 per person. For more information about this event, or to make a reservation, contact Leah Polinski at [email protected].

Happy dining!

By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor

Don’t let the location fool you. Situated in an outdoor shopping center in southwest Kendall—a good 40-minute drive from trendy South Beach—and in Doral, Pisco Y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar features some of the tastiest morsels in South Florida. Tops on their menu are the ceviches, blends of traditional yet modern ingredients that call on the flavors of Peru.
It’s no surprise that this lust-worthy concept was created by the Centurion Restaurant Group, the same visionaries behind Bulla Gastrobar in Coral Gables. After all, this is a group known for bright flavors and the bold use of Spanish ingredients. But instead of touring Spain for menu inspiration at Pisco Y Nazca, Owner Carlos Centurion and VP/Partner Juan Carlos Marchan traveled to Peru. The result: the highly acclaimed debut of Pisco Y Nazca in late 2015.
Although he originally hails from Ecuador, Marchan is in love with Peruvian cuisine and culture. It only makes sense, then, that he would imbue his newest restaurant with the spirit and soul of Peru—from the innovative menu to the friendly, approachable service and earth tone-rich design. It helps that Executive Chef Miguel Antonio Gomez Fernandez was born and raised in Peru, and understands the straightforward flavors of the cuisine. Central to this tradition is the edgy, ineluctable, inimitable Peruvian heat.
“Peruvians love their spice,” Marchan says. “The country has hundreds of different type of peppers, many of which are native to Peru.” To showcase that variety, Pisco Y Naza features a piquant punch in many of their signature ceviches, where freshly caught seafood is marinated in a blend of citrus, chile peppers, and tropical fruits. The Cremoso Ceviche, for example, combines mahi and shrimp with habanero peppers, creamy leche de tigre, celery, and sweet potato. Another spicy choice: the Jalapeño Huacatay, which bathes salmon and shrimp in a creamy jalapeño leche de tigre sauce.
The most popular ceviche on Pisco Y Nazca’s menu, however, is the Rocoto—a meaty mix of mahi, shrimp, octopus, fried calamari, rocoto leche de tigre, cancha, and sweet potato.
For fish lovers unsure of the raw seafood in ceviche, dishes like the Pargo Crocante might be a better pick—fried whole snapper served over a spicy Asian sauce—or the Salmon Andino—seared salmon served over a bed of quinoa salad and avocado with huacatay sauce. And don’t miss the Choros Mariners, a pound of steamed mussels swimming in ají amarillo, chico de jora, and cream served with a stack of crostini to soak up the leftover broth.
With its focus on fresh fish, often served raw, Pisco Y Nazca is intent on sourcing only the highest quality seafood. An impressive feat, considering that its under-the-sea stars hail from all over the Americas, including Peru, Ecuador, and Mexico. That variety is what yields a rainbow of flavors on the menu, however—a signature tack of which Chef Miguel is particularly proud.
If you’re not a fan of seafood, don’t fret; carnivores are not forgotten at Pisco Y Nazca. Just as central to Peruvian cuisine are dishes like Lomo Saltado (stir-fried tenderloin), Churrascazo (grilled aged Angus skirt steak), and Anticucho Corazón (grilled beef heart skewers). There’s even a twist on the classic burger—dubbed the Que Bestia Burger—which features a charred eight-ounce Angus beef patty, accompanied by tomato-panca chutney, rocoto pepper aïoli, and shoestring fries.
Alongside these perennial favorites are rustic, flaky empanadas filled with chicken stew or mushrooms, classic Pollo Asado (crispy roasted half chicken with french fries and green salad), and hearty Chaufa (fried rice with shrimp and calamari).
For dessert, there’s only one option that commends itself: the Chocolate Dome. This decadent gustatory valediction is composed of a sphere of dark chocolate filled with sweet potato custard and warm ganache. “It’s been a tremendous success,” enthuses Marchan. “I cannot tell you how many times our guests whip out their phones to see this dessert unveiled tableside.” The inspiration came, not surprisingly, from a restaurant in Lima. Marchan’s culinary team simply customized the concept for an American clientele.
Food, however, is only half of the culinary equation; drink is an absolute must in Peruvian culture. The country’s national drink, Pisco Sour, is naturally foremost on the menu. “It’s a classic cocktail, and you don’t really want to mess with it,” Marchan notes. To wit, Pisco Y Nazca’s rendition is stiff and strong, just as it is served in Peru—made with three ounces of Pisco Cuatro Gallos to awaken all of the senses.
Beer is a fixture in Peru, too; Peruvian labels like Cristal and Cusqueña are offered at Pisco Y Nazca, alongside Miami craft bews like MIA Weisse, Wynwood La Rubia, and Pop’s Porter. If the prospect of a full Peruvian meal is a bit daunting, Marchan encourages guests to sip and sample at happy hour, stretching from 4-7pm daily. There are even soccer games broadcast on flatscreen TVs for obsessed footballers.
Whoever you are, you likely have a place at Pisco Y Nazca. “Our crowd is comprised of adventurous foodies, social butterflies, and generally awesome people,” quips Marchan. “Kendall is a growing area and has welcomed us with open arms. In turn, we welcome everyone.”
So what’s next for Pisco Y Nazca? A second location is already open in Doral, not to mention an expanded menu and updated design. The restaurant’s expansion will roll out from there, with planned spin-offs in Sunrise and Tampa, Florida; Washington, DC; and Houston.
“We want to continue sharing our love for Peruvian cuisine,” says Marchan. “We’ve had multiple requests from travelers all over the country to bring this gem to their home cities. That’s exactly what we plan to do.”
By Jacquelynn Powers Maurice | Print Contributor

Spasso - Cooking Class

Cooking Class at Spasso

Mexican Independence Day
When: Friday, September 16, 11am-Midnight
Where: Down N’ Dirty Tacos and Tequila Bar {1144 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; 305.604.0323}
What: This Mexican taqueria invites guests to celebrate Mexican Independence Day with all-day specials and an exclusive happy hour event. On Friday, September 16, guests can indulge in a prix-fixe menu, along with beer and shot specials, from open to close. A fun–filled happy hour will run from 4-6pm, and will include Partida Tequila, a live DJ, sombreros, piñatas, and more.
Burgers, Babes & Booze
When: Sunday, September 18, 3pm-Sundown
Where: W Miami {485 Brickell Avenue, Brickell; 305.503.4400}
What: This Sunday, celebrate National Cheeseburger Day at W Miami. Starting at 3pm, this event invites guests to head to the terrace of 15th & Vine, mingle with some of Miami’s favorite female chefs, and indulge in their most inventive cheeseburger creations. Participating chefs include: Nicole Votano of DIRT, Adrianne Calvo of Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar, Cindy Hutson of Zest, and Jessica Sanchez of Loba. The cost of the event is $35 per person, and includes four sliders of the guest’s choice, two sides from 15th & Vine, and one beer from a local Miami brewery. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite HERE. For more information, send an email to [email protected]
National Bourbon Month
When: Through September 30
Where: Fontainebleau Miami Beach {4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.538.2000}
What: September is National Bourbon Month, and the Fontainebleau Miami Beach has turned into a bourbon lover’s paradise. Throughout the month, guests will find bourbon-infused Bon Bon’s at Chez Bon Bon, specialty cocktails at Bleau Bar and Scarpetta, and special High West cocktails at StripSteak. Running with the trend, StripSteak will also offer bourbon flights at the bar, and its tableside Whiskey Ceremony will feature High West Whiskey for this month only. During StripSteak’s weekly Cigar Social, guests can order a High West Whiskey flight for $25++ per person. Finally, through Breakeven at StripSteak, patrons can sit at the bar and get a taste of exclusive, limited-edition bourbons at the restaurant’s break-even price.
Mani in Pasta (Hands in the Pasta)
When: Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 10:30am-2:30pm
Where: Spasso {3540 Main Highway, Coconut Grove; 305.441.0219}
What: Have you always wanted to learn how to make fresh pasta? Are you curious to know how focaccia leavens? In this cooking class, guests will learn both. Led by Chef Gaetano, of Spasso, future cooks will get a hands-on lesson working with various cuts of egg pasta, from tagliatelle and pappardelle, to ravioli, tortelloni, and more. At the end of the course, participants will get a diploma, as well as a chance to savor a wine-pairing lunch featuring their own dishes. Each class lasts four hours and costs $49 per person.
Ladies Night Out with Free Prosecco
When: Every Thursday, 4-8pm
Where: Spasso {3540 Main Highway, Coconut Grove; 305.441.0219}
What: Every Thursday at Spasso, wind down with your girlfriends, as ladies enjoy free Prosecco from 4-8pm.
Happy Hour
When: Daily
Where: Spasso {3540 Main Highway, Coconut Grove; 305.441.0219}
What: Spend the Happiest Hour(s) of your day at Spasso! During the appropriate hours, enjoy a 5 for $5 happy hour menu, which includes your choice of one of five Neapolitan-style Pizzettas, wine by the glass, and select cocktails—like the fresh Sorrentino, which is made with rum, Limoncello, and lemon and orange juices—for $5 each.
By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor


Whether it’s for dinner, drinks, a spa day, or a night out on the town, everyone loves a weekend at the Fontainebleau. That said, ask any local, and they’ll tell you the best time to go is on a sunny weekend day when you can take in its 1950’s glam from the pool. Of course, any long day in the South Florida sun demands some tasty food to reset and refuel, so start your Fontainebleau pool day with a light, delectable lunch at the Côte d’Azur-inspired La Côte {4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.674.4710}.

Spread across two levels, this chic beach club and restaurant sits right by the pool, offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, and fuses Florida-meets-French Riviera cuisine with a lively bar scene, live DJs, and bespoke cocktails made with only the freshest ingredients.

And because we love it so much, we’ve even rounded up a list of our favorite things on the La Côte menu. Follow our lead, and next time you’re there, be sure to order these five menu items:

Sancerre and Pear White Sangria Pitcher ($70): There’s nothing like cold sangria on a hot day. Perfect for Miami, this Fontainebleau special infuses Sancerre with fresh Asian pears, Canton Ginger, and St. Germain Elderflower.

Grilled Brie ($18): This tasty appetizer pairs soft, grilled Brie with peach chutney and toasted baguette, all drizzled with lavender honey.

Watermelon Basil Margarita ($16): In the mood for a light drink with a little more of a punch? Try this refreshing cocktail, which mixes Corzo Silver tequila, Cointreau, basil, muddled watermelon, and hand-pressed lime.

Mediterranean Grain Salad ($14): This light, satisfying salad is a mix of grains, tomato, cucumber, feta, olive and lemon vinaigrette.

Fruits De Mer ($42): If you’re in the mood for a light lunch, this iced platter with king crab, poached shrimp oysters and a chilled mussel salad is just the thing.


Mediterranean Grain Salad

La Côte is open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Reservations are accepted, and walk-ins are accepted from the boardwalk.

By Jennifer Agress | Miami Editor