D Rodriguez Ocean at the Hilton Bentley Hotel,
101 Ocean Drive, South Beach 305-673-3763. 
















by Simone Zarmati Diament
 Chef Douglas Rodriguez has opened the 200-seat beachfront  De Rodriguez Ocean -- his third restaurant in Miami Beach after Ola and D.Rodriguez Cuba  -- where Gaia used to be, on the ground floor of the Hilton Bentley Hotel. The decor hasn't changed much - the back wall is still there with a great choice of wines -  but the addition of plants, colors on the walls and the upholstery impart a typical "relajado" or relaxed Latin feel.  The waiters are dressed in black and all wear checkered fedoras which make them look like Cuban musicians from the '60s.

The indoor and outdoor dining rooms are within steps of the pool deck and the beach.  Two full cocktail bars, including one pool-side, provide guests with an extensive cocktail list ($13) which is also available to diners.  A chic, twenty-five foot ceviche and raw  bar lists over fifteen of Rodriguez’sceviches and tiraditos ($14 - $21) as well as a "Naked raw bar" of sustainable seafood.

The menu printed on place mats is devided into Mixtos ($21 -$15): mixed seafood; Maine lobster Thai with coconut ceviche; Big eye tuna watermelon; the Tiraditos ($21 - $14) -- our Rainbow ceviche ($19), a hefty portion of salmon and hamachi in citrus soy sauce, jalapeno and sesame seed, was very good;  a choice of four ceviche tastings goes for $31; Appetizers ($8to $8) with choices of kobe meatballs; tuna sliders with red onion jam and foie gras in a soft bun; smoked marlin tacos with cured rum marlin, mayo, capers, chives and jalapenos -- ours were overwhelmed with mayo; new oyster Rodriguez - crispy, with aioli and veal stew- a play on oysters Rockefeller.

dsc08477There are large size salads ($16 - 414) -- classic Caesar, My take on the Louie, and serrano ham with arrugula - served in impressive transparent bowls and a list of entrees ($19 to $34) such as Paella Valenciana; fried organic tilapia; churrasco beef tenderloin; whole branzino and grilled organic chicken ropa vieja and a fried egg. The portions are large and can be shared. Our 1lb 1/2 Maine lobster was large enough for two, but literally doused in enchilada sauce - and we were never offered a wet towel after the lobster. The sides - from white rice/black beans to spinach and seaweed gratin -- are  all $6. Desserts are all $9 from the popular Baked Miami, a take on baked Alaska with mousse of dulce de leche to a deconstructed carrot cake.

Thanks to its proximity to the surf, the atmosphere is romantic in a sultry way, and at this time of year, the delicious ocean breeze blows away any kinks the newly opened restaurant may have.   D Rodriguez Ocean at the Hilton Bentley Hotel, 101 Ocean Drive, South Beach is open for dinner only, seven days a week from 6 to 11 p.m. and till 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.   101 Ocean Drive Miami Beach,   305-673-3763.



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