Miami is seeing a dining renaissance with a slew of new restaurants opening in 2014. From “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto to Top Chef fan favorite Fabio Viviani, acclaimed toques are hitting the scene to open fresh new eateries. Here’s our guide to seven of Miami’s most-anticipated openings.
James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein (she won Best Chef: South in 2007) will open Seagrape at the new oceanfront Thompson Miami Beach in mid-November. The 267-seat, casually elegant restaurant will focus on simplicity by having a host of fresh vegetables, pedigreed steaks and an expansive raw bar with crudos, carpaccios, tartares and more. Seagrape’s nautical-inspired design, old-style Florida décor and indoor and outdoor seating create a feel of a classic brasserie. Bernstein has also commissioned local farmers to grow specific items just for her.
Celebrity chef and restaurateur Michael Mina is bringing his Las Vegas restaurant Stripsteak to Fontainebleau Miami Beach in the space formerly occupied by Gotham Steak. Led by chef de cuisine Derrick Roberts, this will be Mina’s second restaurant at the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel. (Michael Mina 74 opened December 2013.) With this entry, think steakhouse gone upscale, elegant yet edgy, with modern takes on classic chophouse fare. The menu features all-natural, certified Angus and Japanese A5 Kobe cuts enhanced by creative plate presentations. Expect an impressive list of scotches, both foreign and domestic. Stripsteak is expected to open late fall.
The city’s most talked-about new spot is “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto’s 180-seat namesake restaurant opened in early October at the newly renovated Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach. Designed by Glamorous of Tokyo, the look and ambience capture the sexy vibe of South Beach through pink, bronze, gray and light amber hues, and a unique chandelier specially made for the place. The equally eye-catching menu carries Morimoto’s signature specialties, such as tuna pizza, spicy king crab and toro tartare, as well as his playful takes on hamachi tacos, Wagyu tartare and bagna cauda. Look, too, for new star dishes created especially for South Beach, including ceviche with locally sourced seafood; seafood cocotte with lobster, prawns, scallops, clams and mussels; and gazpacho served with wasabi freshly grated tableside. Of course, the sushi bar takes center stage here, running the full length of the restaurant. You’ll also want to pull up to the regular bar that sits at the heart of the eatery and extends outdoors. Pastry chef Manabu Inoue’s salty caramel-chocolate tart or coconut-mango pudding is the perfect way to the end the meal. For the ultimate experience, book the VIP chef’s table on the terrace. (Also at the Shelborne, be sure to seek out self-proclaimed apotheker Albert Trummer’s sublime libations at his new Drawing Room Bar & Lounge that just opened on September 24.)
Indulge in authentic Spanish cuisine at Piripi (slang for “happy” or “tipsy”) by chef Najat Kaanache, a San Sebastian-born TV actress and former chef of Spain’s elBulli who honed her culinary skills at such high-profile establishments as Noma, Five-Star The French Laundry and Five-Star Per Se. The 200-seat indoor-outdoor restaurant will be located at the upscale Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables. The menu will stress fresh seafood, lively tapas and paellas that come with chef Kaanache’s creative spin. Standout design elements include a wine wall and a spectacular 20-foot blown-glass chandelier hanging in the bar/lounge area that is being produced by master glass blower Ryan Blythe, a disciple of famed Dale Chihuly. When Piripi opens in October or November, you’ll be able to take in the view from the prominent central bar while sipping from an array of Spanish wines and a selection of gin and tonics.
Coming to Miami Beach is Top Chef favorite Fabio Viviani with an outpost of Chicago’s Siena Tavern. The Florence-born Viviani will incorporate locally sourced produce and seafood into the menu of his upscale restaurant. The chef will strive to create a high-quality Northern Italian dining experience by making as much of the menu as possible from scratch. Siena will feel like a hybrid, a sort of rustic Italian market, fine-dining restaurant and modern, industrial tavern with walnut community tables, sleek booths with rich gray leather, crystal-and-steel chandeliers, graffiti art and brightly colored tropical foliage. Beyond the main dining area, you will have the option of eating under a sprawling olive tree, in an Art Deco rotunda or under a cozy pergola. When it comes to the stylish menu, Wagyu beef meatballs, housemade gnocchi with truffle cream and crispy pancetta, balsamic-drizzled hamachi crudo, thin-crust pizzas and the addictive coccoli (stracchino-cheese-stuffed dough balls) and prosciutto di parma are all must-try items. If you can, save room for Viviani’s signature dessert, the bomboloni, Italian hole-less doughnuts made from mashed potatoes and served with injection bottles filled with decadent dipping sauces.
The group behind the swank Villa Azur is launching this sister restaurant in trendy Midtown. Designed by François Frossard, the brasserie is expected to have a menu of French-Mediterranean cuisine. Though most other details are still under wraps, if Brasserie Azure is anything like Villa, you can expect a très glam gastronomic experience when the place opens in late fall.
Popular local chef Daniel Serfer of Blue Collar and food blogger Ryan Roman opened this oyster bar in the trendy Edgewater neighborhood back in August. Casual yet classy, the 1,600-square-foot, 60-seat Mignonette (the name comes from the vinegar-based sauce that traditionally accompanies oysters) is located in a refurbished gas station from the 1930s. It features elements of New Orleans (Bevolo copper lanterns and exposed brick) and touches of Old Florida (vintage wallpaper and wood paneling). Grab a house aperitif (a mix of bubbly, Banyuls wine vinegar, candied shallots and pink peppercorns) while you take a gander at the menu filled with “plain” and “fancy” dishes. From classic oysters Rockefeller and popcorn shrimp, to Kaluga caviar, prime rib and everything else in between, Mignonette has something that will please all tastes. Check the oyster bar’s marquee for the daily selection of half shells, too.