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Lippi Restaurant, 600 Brickell Ave., Brickell World Plaza, downtown Miami 33131.

305-579.1888 

Chef Philippe Ruiz is back in great style, bringing his inimitable style to the chic and sleek Lippi Restaurant in the heart of Brickell, Downtown Miami. 

 
 
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By Simone Zarmati Diament

photos: Simone Z. Diament

 

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After what seems to his fans a long eclipse from the culinary scene since he left Palme d’Or  at the Biltmore last December, Chef Philippe Ruiz is back in great style, bringing his inimitable style to the chic and sleek Lippi Restaurant in the heart of Brickell, Downtown Miami. 

Nothing less than quality and luxurious elegance can be expected from Lippi’s president Tunu Puri, who propelled waterfront Zuma to the top of the chart.

At street level, the brand new restaurant is a world unto itself. The modern 216 seats interior is bathed in cathedral-like glow by floor-to-ceiling windows shedding soft light on painted murals, gorgeous Murano chandeliers and muted colored floors. 

In front of the kitchen an alabaster crudo bar illuminated from the inside is a prep station where one can see a team of chefs busy filleting fish and seafood or finishing dishes. The floor-to-ceiling glass-enclosed wine room is the realm of sommelier Daniel Torral, and the altar to this cathedral of fine dining is a bar with a display of liquor bottles like an organ about to pipe out a hymn to spirits for a cocktail-drinking crowd of urban players.

The 92-seats outdoor terrace overlooking cool water pools, palm trees swaying in the breeze and architecturally stunning buildings hemming the Brickell World Plaza is a welcome new setting for outdoor lunch or dinner.

And the food comes to match.

Whatever connotations the name Lippi elicits −   Filippino Lippi (c. 1457 – April 1504) was an Italian painter who worked with Botticelli during the High Renaissance in Florence, Italy; his father, Fra’ Lippo Lippi (yes, a renegade clergyman) was also a painter; the famous Brasserie Lipp in Paris, or simply and sensually the word lippi (meaning Lips in Italian) − the menu is Mediterranean by definition, and meant for sharing.

There’s no bread on the table unless you ask for it, says chef Ruiz, but instead warm and delicious gougères (cheesy cream puffs) with a rich cream filling are sent to the table while your order is prepped and prepared on the spot.

Fresh is the name of the game: crudos, oysters and caviar head the menu alongside an impressive list of Chef Ruiz’s choices of appetizers, small plates, large entrées, all seasonal and set in earthy-looking serving plates, wooden planks, glass spheres or slabs of Himalayan salt.

There’s  homemade foie gras terrine - an old favorite among chef Ruiz's fans -  w/ tropical fruit chutney over spiced brioche toast ($ 20); vitello tonnato w/ piquillo pepper over toasted bread and crisp capers (16); pissaladière, a crisp pizza-like puff pastry w/ caramelized onion and cured anchovies (14); a tray of Magalica ham w/ aged manchego, sweet garlic toast and tomato relish (28) and our waiter’s recommendation which two businessmen were too busy enjoying to talk shop: the truffled scrambled eggs w/ wild mushrooms and crostini (16) dramatically served in a glass sphere over a wooden stand.

Among the dishes that capture the essence of the Mediterranean spirit – simplicity, fresh locally-sourced fine ingredients and fabulous tastes − is the Mediterranean farro salad with a tangy tzatziki sauce, marinated tomatos, cukes over slices of yellow and red roasted beets (12). There are other salads like lentil salad w/ marinated feta, tomato confit and kalamata olives (11), shaved fennel salad with orange segments, pomegranate seeds, mint vinaigrette (12) and mixed greens with crisp baguette (12)

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The Maine lobster ravioli in a heavenly coriander bisque foam with depth of flavor and cloudy airiness (14) is one more proof that Chef Philippe Ruiz is at the cusp of his talent, as is the rest of the menu: mini crab cake with basquaise sauce and harissa aioli (18); the playful fish & chips, crisp black cod with garlic aioli (20), the grilled lobster tail, sweet-fleshed, topped with a medley of cubed purple, white potatoes and fresh veggies; crispy shrimp with ginger sweer pepper and soy sauce (18); dramatic black & white calamari in black squid batter with basquaise sauce and lemon (14).

Then come the entrées: steaks, fish, seafood grilled to perfection ($24 to $72 for a rib-eye for four)  and the desserts by  pastry chef Sarah Thompson –formerly of the Four Seasons Miami – whose creativity in pastry and ice-cream making is only matched by her array of freshly-baked  petits fours like the amazing financiers and madeleines.

The service choreographed by GM Paul Radu – formerly of the St. Regis – is impeccable, pleasantly efficient and knowledgeable without being invasive, and sommelier Daniel Torral’s choice of wines, including his wine-by-the-glass program, enhances every dish in the menu as it accommodates different budgets.

As its name indicates, and based on the already thick first weekend crowd, Lippi restaurant is poised to be the talk of the town, with or without lip-service.

 

 

 

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 Lippi Restaurant

600 Brickell Ave., Miami 33131.

 305-579.1888

Open for lunch Monday- Friday 12 – 3 p.m. and  dinner Monday- Saturday 6 to 11:30 p.m.    

Valet iparking complimentary with validation