Thursday, September 21, 2023
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mob oysters

East and West Coast Oysters

There’s no shortage of great seafood restaurants in Miami. But when it comes to fresh and affordable quality oysters, that pool of seafood restaurants diminishes significantly. At the top of our list is Midtown Oyster Bar {3301 Northeast First Avenue, Suite 103-1, Midtown; 786.220.2070}, Miami’s charming seafood kitchen specializing in oysters flown in weekly from prime locations across the U.S.

Although the restaurant recently revamped its menu, adding in a new focus on Mediterranean cuisine, its commitment to serving exceptionally fresh East and West Coast oysters is as strong as ever. Midtown Oyster Bar also features select types of oysters that can’t be found anywhere else in the city—including Fishers Island oysters, from New York’s ultra-exclusive island where the small oyster farm only sells to select restaurants (only two in Florida and one in Miami: Midtown Oyster Bar).

Quaint, quiet, and casual, Midtown Oyster Bar also features an exceptional wine list, providing the perfect pairing for your meal. The staff is friendly and extremely knowledgeable, particularly about the oysters on offer.

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

We recently had the opportunity to try out the new menu and to sample some of these famous oysters that we’d heard so much about. In addition to a selection of oysters—Shibumi oysters from Washington state, and Plymouth Rock oysters and Wellfleet oysters, both from Massachusetts—we started out the meal with warm Lobster Bisque, followed by the Branzino Carpaccio (served with fennel, Tuscan pecorino, and caramelized walnuts).

Branzino Carpaccio

Branzino Carpaccio

We then tried the Spanish Octopus (our favorite dish of the evening), served with chickpeas, rosemary coulis, extra virgin olive oil, and bread chips, and the equally delicious Seafood Ravioli, which was homemade and filled with snapper and arugula pesto and topped with shrimp sauce. We finished the meal with a trio of outrageous desserts—a must for any discerning diner with a sweet tooth.

Seafood Ravioli

Seafood Ravioli

And for those of our readers who are not seafood fans, Midtown Oyster Bar has other menu options as well, including the restaurant’s best-selling MOB Burger, a sensational delicacy in its own right.

—Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

riviera focacceria italiana

If you didn’t know it was there, you might miss it. Sandwiched between two other small eateries in the Shops at Midtown Miami, lies a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

While there are hundreds of Italian restaurants that dot the Greater Miami area, Riviera Focacceria Italiana {3252 Northeast Buena Vista Boulevard, Suite 1100, Midtown; 768.220.6251} is one of only a handful that specializes in authentic cuisine from Liguria, a crescent-shaped coastal region in northwest Italy, bordering the southeastern tip of France to the west and Tuscany to the east.

Owner Fabio Domenichini, who hails from the Ligurian capital of Genoa, greeted us warmly in his thick Italian accent and sat us on the patio out front. Unlike other restaurants in Midtown with tables spilling out onto the pedestrian-crowded sidewalks, Riviera’s patio is quaint and private.

Wine is a must at this rustic, no-frills eatery, and rows of bottles line the back wall. As we settled in with our beautifully crisp white from Sardinia, we were greeted by our friendly server who placed a tin of freshly baked focaccia bread on the table.

riviera focacceria italiana

Focaccia al Formaggi

You’ll be tempted to fill up on the delicious focaccia—it is, after all, where Riviera Focacceria gets its name. But you haven’t really experienced this Ligurian specialty until you taste the restaurant’s signature Focaccia al Formaggi: thin sheets of delicate, flaky dough blanketing a layer of melt-in-your-mouth Stracchino cheese (air-freighted in weekly from Italy), served piping hot in the pan it’s cooked in. Trust us when we say you’ve never tried anything like it.

riviera focacceria italiana

Pansoti al Pesto di Maggiorana

This could have easily been our full meal, but Fabio warned us to “not to eat it all,” so we could save room for what was to come: the creamy Pansoti al Pesto di Maggiorana, a ravioli-like pasta (handmade from scratch) with marjoram, pine cuts, Parmesan pesto, and a touch of butter; and the Tonna alla Ligure, a tuna fillet seared on one side and topped with capers, pine nuts, parsley, and Taggiasca olives gremolata spread over a chickpea purée. Both exquisite.

riviera focacceria italiana

Tonna alla Ligure

As we sipped up the last of our wine, we studied the dessert menu. We learned that the Panna Cotta al Vino Rosso is a must-try, but our server also let us know that a special chocolate mousse with strawberry sorbet was available that night. If this close-your-eyes-to-savor-each-bite dessert is any indications of the others, then it’s safe to say there’s not a bad one in the bunch. And if you’re too full for dessert, you can always wrap one up to-go. All desserts, along with olive oil, cheeses, homemade pastas, sauces, and focaccias, can be purchased at the market on premises.

riviera focacceria italiana

Specialty Chocolate Mousse Dessert

So the next time you’re at the Shops at Midtown, be on the lookout for this tiny slice of Liguria. It might not be the trendy place to see and be seen, but you may just find your new go-to Italian eatery.

—Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

midtown oyster bar

On Wednesday, September 30, Midtown Oyster Bar {3301 Northeast First Avenue, Suite 103-1, Midtown; 786.220.2070} is partnering up with Wynwood Brewing Company for a special one-night-only grand tasting event.

Together, MOB’s Chef Ralph Cohen and Wynwood Brewing’s “Missionary of Beer” David Rodriguez have created a mouthwatering nine-course tasting menu highlighting the best flavors of both New England and Miami, each paired with an equally tempting on-tap craft beer.

Guests can expect classic MOB dishes such as oysters (naturally) and the Smoked Scottish Salmon on toasted brioche with dill cream cheese, plus a handful of modified versions of current dishes—the Meatball and Goat Cheese Sliders and the Grilled Gulf Oyster Kilpatrick, for example—to enhance and complement the beer flavors.

In addition to classic Wynwood Brewing beers such as La Rubia Blonde and Magic City Pale Ale, guests will be able to sample seasonal specials such as Rickenbacker Pilsner (paired with Shrimp Spring Rolls with mango chutney) and Father Francisco Belgian Golden Strong (paired with Chicken Teriyaki Skewers) along with some specialties such as Stiglitz and Scotchy Doesn’t Know Scotch Ale.

The event will take place at Midtown Oyster Bar from 7-9pm. Cost is $75 per person, all-inclusive. To purchase tickets, click here.

By Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

Midtown Oyster BarMidtown Oyster Bar {3301 Northeast First Avenue, Suite 103-1, Midtown; 786-220-2070} is teaming up with Blue Moon Brewing Company to offer a week of beer and oyster specials in honor of the blue moon (July 31) and National Oyster Day (August 5).

The celebration kicks off this Friday, July 31, from 6-9pm, with a special event featuring Blue Moon samples, special happy hour deals such as a four-beer bucket paired with six complimentary oysters, and real telescopes to view the blue moon astronomical phenomenon (whether permitting).

The specials continue throughout the week with $6 Blue Moon bottles paired with their very own complimentary oyster—offered all day every day through August 7. Choose from three pairings: Blue Moon Summer Hop with Massachusetts’ Island Creek oyster; Blue Moon IPA with Washington’s Maple Point oyster; and Blue Moon Belgium with Connecticut’s Blue Point oyster.

It’s a chic summer event you won’t want to miss!

The event is free to attend. To RSVP, click here.

By Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

Miami Spice is less than a week away, and we can hardly contain our excitement! Throughout August and September, over 200 restaurants throughout Miami-Dade are participating in Spice by offering special prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner menus at discounted prices (lunch: $23; dinner: $39). This is the 14th year that Miami Spice has been in effect, so there are plenty of tried-and-true favorites on the list. But there are also some 50 restaurants entirely new to the program this year. Here, we’ve selected five of our favorite newcomers—and our Spice menu recommendations for each.

brasserie azur

1. Brasserie Azur {3252 Northeast First Avenue, Midtown; 786.800.9993}
Spice menus available for lunch and dinner Monday-Friday
Azur Hospitality Group (the same group behind Miami Beach’s upscale Villa Azur) recently debuted Brasserie Azur in the former Mercadito space in Midtown Miami. From the rotisserie station to the raw bar to the fresh charcuterie, there’s always a boatload of sensational flavors to try from the Mediterranean-inspired menu.
Our Appetizer Pick: West and East Coast Shooters with bloody-mary granite
Our Entrée Pick: Butter-Poached Lobster with fava bean ragoût and European cucumber foam
Our Dessert Pick: Warm Banana Pithivier with rum anglaise and caramelized banana chips—there’s only one dessert option available, but we’re confident that this would be our top pick either way.

Quality Meats

2. Quality Meats {1501 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.340.3333}
Spice menu available every evening for dinner
Manhattan’s award-winning steakhouse recently opened its second outpost in South Beach, and it’s been bustling ever since. Partner and Executive Chef Craig Koketsu has concocted a meat-centric Spice menu featuring variations on only the best quality beefs, all cured, aged, and smoked onsite.
Our Appetizer Pick: Kale and Manchego Salad with chorizo vinaigrette
Our Entrée Pick: Grilled Bavette Steak with cured orange salad
Our Dessert Pick: Coffee and Doughnuts—coffee ice cream swirled with chocolate doughnuts

SOHO Bay

3. SOHO Bay {520 West Avenue, Miami Beach; 786.618.2788}
Spice menu available for dinner Tuesday-Sunday
Although it’s relatively new to the Miami dining scene, SOHO Bay has been a success in Brazil for over 15 years, with eight locations throughout the country. Executive Chef Ricardo Sauri, formerly of Nobu fame, has devised a tempting Spice menu that can be optimally enjoyed on the breezy patio overlooking the bay.
Our Appetizer Pick: Sushi Tasting (a combination of house rolls)
Our Entrée Pick: Braised Oxtail Donburi served with rice cakes, eggs, scallions, nori, corn, and gochujang
Our Dessert Pick: Coffee-Coated Miso Mousse with dulce de leche, caramel pistachio, and praline

The Gang

4. The Gang {3500 North Miami Avenue, Midtown; 305.570.9430}
Spice menu available for dinner Sunday-Thursday
This eclectic gastropub on the border of Midtown and Wynwood has already proven itself to be one of Miami’s coolest dining spots. The cuisine is a blend of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine staples with a modern twist, while the inside feels like a hip postmodern gallery with distressed wooden floorboards, exposed piping, and vintage washing machines that make up the base of the bar.
Our Appetizer Pick: Vietnamese Pork Rolls—rice paper, lettuce, and fresh tenderloin pork meat with homemade ginger and mint sauce on the side
Our Entrée Pick: Thai Wok Chicken served with traditional homemade egg noodles, mixed vegetables, and lemongrass
Our Dessert Pick: Cheesecake or Key Lime Pie? You’ll be satisfied no matter which one you choose.

StripSteak

5. StripSteak {4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 877.326.7412}
Spice menu available for dinner Sunday-Thursday
All four of Fontainebleau’s signature restaurants are participating in Miami Spice this year, but this is the first time that Michael Mina’s StripSteak is around for it. There’s just two options for each course, but considering that the regular menu can be a bit pricey, this is a Spice deal that can’t be beat.
Our Appetizer Pick: Ricotta Cavatelli with English pea purée, sugar snap peas, basil, and ricotta salata
Our Entrée Pick: Red Wine-Braised Short Rib with mascarpone-whipped potatoes and bordelaise
Our Dessert Pick: Chocolate Orange Cream Cake with chocolate Chantilly cream and orange anglaise

By Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

“Out with the old, in with the new,” is how the saying goes. But in the case of the three restaurants below, it’s more like, “Out with the old, in with the improved.” Here, a look at three highly anticipated restaurant openings for the summer:

PB Station

PB Station {121 Southeast First Street, Downtown; 305.532.7555}
Pubbelly “goes new American” this summer with the opening of PB Station, the first dining concept outside Miami Beach’s city limits for the Pubbelly Boys’ (Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner, and Sergio Navarro of Pubbelly, Pubbelly Sushi, and L’Echon Brasserie fame).

Located on the ground level of the new Langford Hotel in Downtown Miami, PB Station will be led by Executive Chef Guillermo Concha, who will offer original dishes inspired by the restaurant group’s former concepts PB Steak and PB Fish such as the Ceviche Taquitos, Steak Tartare Sliders, and French Onion Soup Dumplings, plus carefully selected à la carte steak and poultry cuts, with seafood selections varying daily based on what is fresh and local.

Tiramesu

TiramesU {101 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach}
The latest buzz in Miami Beach’s exploding South of Fifth neighborhood is the highly anticipated reopening of TiramesU, the 25-plus-year-old establishment that has been a South Beach staple since its inception.

The restaurant made its debut in 1988 on Ocean Drive and later moved to a prime location on Lincoln Road, where it reigned for 17 years. The Italian restaurant caused a stir when it closed its doors in April of last year, announcing that it would soon reopen in the SoFi district. And now, after a seemingly forever hiatus, the time has finally come for it to reemerge bigger and better than ever.

Chef Fabrizio Pintus, who has been at the helm of the kitchen since 2010, will resume his role as executive chef, offering up a new and improved menu featuring the same authentic Italian flavors with a fun, contemporary twist.

CENA by michy

CENA by Michy {6927 Biscayne Boulevard, Midtown; 305 759 2001}
Unlike TiramesU, which is essentially an old restaurant in a new location, CENA by Michy is a new restaurant in an old location. After a 10-month closure and a total renovation, James Beard Award-winning Chef Michelle Bernstein’s landmark eatery Michy has reopened its doors, but with an entirely new name, look, menu, and spirit.

CENA by Michy has shucked the original incarnation’s bright colors and cottage-chic décor for a clean, white color palette complemented by dark chrome starburst chandeliers. The menu is approachable yet adventurous, boasting soul-pleasing favorites as well as an array of dishes inspired by what Bernstein says are her current culinary obsessions. The menu will feature nightly selections from the restaurant’s new rotisserie and has already been praised for its innovative and Latin-inspired flavors for which Bernstein is known.

By Sherri Balefsky | Online Editor