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chef

At last we now know where to find Chef Philippe Ruiz, now Executive Chef at Fresh American Bistro (F.A.B.), a casually refined American Bistro – first opened by Chef Ralph Pagano – at Sole on the Ocean and Spa, in Sunny Isles Beach, right across the strip mall that houses Timo, Basil Park and other known restaurants.

The jazzy 90-seats indoor/outdoor bistro, recently renovated by Stéphane Dupoux (credited with developing Buddha Bar, Nikki Beach and Seasalt and Pepper) with a prominent bar and a 40-seats wrap-around patio with a fire pit to cuddle around, overlooks  the hotel pool, the beach and the surf. Enough to remind you why you're in South Florida and to make you forget the world around you.

The venue is as far from the formal settings where we are accustomed to see chef Ruiz work, as is the eclectic menu of American classics prepared with, as its name indicates, seasonal and fresh products from local farms, fisheries, and artisan producers.  

There is something for every taste but there are no surprises.  The staff is enthusiastic about everything on the menu, from the homemade bread which comes to the table still warm next to a tapenade spread, and the ceviche amuse in bamboo cups, to the rest of the offering.

For starters there’s a Fresh Bar listing oysters (6 for $18) accompanied by delicious mignonette and cocktail sauces, and  jumbo and colossal stone crab claws (M/P). The seafood appetizers – a nod to chef Ruiz’s French training – are large enough for sharing, like the marinated smoked scallops ($15) with endive salad tossed with toasted seeds and shallot vinaigrette; the Ahi tuna ‘cannelloni’ ($16), an Asian-Italian 'fusion' creation consisting of a thick strip of toro encased in a thin fried wrapping of sliced zucchini and eggplant over a spicy tomato and basil coulis and a trinity of tartars ($16): ahi tuna with hearts of palm, beef tartare with crispy potatoes and scallop and crab with mango relish and tomato coulis.

Given the fact that this is bikini town, there are few carbs on the menu other than the flatbreads ($12 - $15) – not as flat as they ought to be – with toppings like roasted tomatoes and Pecorino cheese; caramelized onions, bacon and sour cream; short ribs with tomato and mozzarella and Fontina cheese with truffle.

The salads ($11 - $12) cover the rainbow of seasonal veggies: classic Caesar; the quintessentially American Sliced Wedge with hard-boiled egg, bacon and Maytag blue dressing; organic spinach with roasted pear, goat cheese and shallot vinaigrette, and organic beet salad with green lentils and prosciutto.

The fish is fresh and well prepared ($26 - $31) like our fork tender grilled Florida Coast Hog Snapper set over a delicious vegetable stew and basil beurre blanc. There’s jumbo shrimp ‘a la plancha’ with locally farmed roasted tomatoes and fingerling potatoes and a saffron seafood risotto with plenty of mussels, rock shrimp, calamari, the fish of the day and lobster bisque.

For meat lovers:  braised short ribs ($29), almost melting in an intensely flavored red wine sauce are accompanied with light pumpkin potato gnocchi; even if the seared duck breast ($27) is drizzled with Southern Comfort sauce, it is French, with a side of Brussels sprouts and crispy polenta.

It wouldn’t be an American bistro if it didn't list the grilled 14-oz bone-in NY Steak ($38) and the seared 6-oz grass-fed  beef tenderloin with  mushroom ragoût and truffled demi-glace.

Desserts provide sweet endings but no surprises, unless I stand to be contradicted at the time  of this writing.

As said chef Ruiz, F.A.B. is a destination for locals and diners from all over the world, and doubles up as a lavish brunch destination on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and as a beach party on Sundays when he rolls up his sleeves and the cuffs of his pants to cook giant paellas and roast suckling pigs on the beach.

 

 

F.A.B. Fresh American Bistro at  Sole on the Ocean, Sunny Isles Beach
786-923-9300 www.soleontheocean.com

fabHours: Open seven days a week, F.A.B. begins breakfast service at 7:30am daily, lunch from 11:00am to 4:30pm, dinner 6:00pm to 10pm, and brunch on Sundays from 11am to 3pm.
Wines and Spirits: reasonably-priced wine list and a long and lavish cocktail menu.
Service: Enthusiastic
Parking: in the building
Access: Stairs and elevator
Credit Cards: all

 

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Nominees have been announced for the fourth annual Johnson & Wales University's Zest Awards which celebrate excellence in South Florida's culinary arts scene.

On March 18, from 7 to 9 p.m., JWU's Wildcat Center, North Miami campus will host the awards ceremony showcasing leaders in the Miami food scene in the categories: best restaurant, best boutique restaurant, best bar/lounge, best wine program, culinary innovator, newcomer of the year, baking and pastry chef of the year, best food blogger, and best food reporting..

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Campania, the newest regional Italian restaurant from restaurateurs Tony Gallo and Chef Pietro Vardeu, has open its doors at 4029 North Miami Avenue in Miami’s Design District.

Offering savory Southern Italian cuisine, Campania joins Gallo and Vardeu’s popular Miami dining staples Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante on Miami Beach and Moye – which recently opened in Brickell and features classic Italian fare from Puglia. Named after the region in southern Italy of the same name, Campania is a brand new restaurant concept that focuses on the sun-kissed cuisine of Naples and the Amalfi Coast with artisanal, made-to-order pizzas, calzones and pastas.

The restaurant features a custom pizza oven, which was created to the team’s specifications in Italy and shipped to Miami, as well as an onsite marketplace where guests can purchase fresh buffalo mozzarella and burrata that will be made in-house daily.

After the success of Sardinia and Moye, Gallo and Vardeu were motivated to bring another distinct dining experience to Miami. “Campania allows us to introduce locals to another type of beloved Italian cuisine, filled with the savory flavors of Southern Italy. We feel that Campania will allow diners to indulge in traditional dishes that they may already be familiar with, while also expanding their palate with new regional offerings,” says Gallo.

Chef Vardeu’s menu includes pizzas made fresh to order in the restaurant’s wood-burning pizza oven, with choices like the Marinara, tomato, garlic, oregano ($10); traditional pies such as the Capricciosa, tomato, mozzarella, artichokes, ham, black olives, mushrooms ($14); Ortolana, tomato, mozzarella, grilled zucchini, eggplant and cherry tomatoes ($14); and the restaurant’s signature pie, the Campania – white pizza, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, arugula and prosciutto ($15).

On the list, there’s the Marechiaro – a calzone filled with mozzarella, tomato, ricotta cheese, salami, pepper and basil ($13) or the Fritto Sanitá stuffed with fried pizza, mozzarella, tomato, ricotta cheese, salami, pepper and basil ($14). Other appetizer options include Gamberi in pasta Kataifi – shrimp wrapped in Kataifi pasta ($16); Frittura alla Napoletana – arancini, mozzarella in carrozza, potato croquettes and zeppoline, frittatine ($16); and Cozze – steamed mussels with oregano and white wine ($12).

Larger plates include staples like the Cotoletta alla Sorrentina – breaded veal with mozzarella and basil ($24); Frittura di Mare – wood-fired shrimps, calamari and rock fish ($24); and Branzino alla Procidana – baked Mediterranean sea bass, tomato, parsley and garlic ($24). Also available are traditional pasta dishes including Gnocchi Sorrentina – baked potato gnocchi with meat sauce, mozzarella and basil ($16) and Scialatielli – homemade flat noodles served with 1lb. fresh Maine lobster ($22).

Desserts round out the menu and include the Babá, Delizia al Limone, Cannoli con Ricotta di Bufala and Torta Ricotta e Cioccolato, all priced at $9 each. Campania also offers guests a full bar with a great selection of moderately-priced regional wines, ranging from $9 to $16 a glass, to complement their meal, while beer and other cocktails will also be available. Locals will also be able to order takeout from the restaurant, so that they can enjoy Campania’s Southern Italian cuisine at home or at the office.

Campania’s décor reflects the rustic and casual feel of its menu, with distressed off-white chairs and tables filling the spacious dining room, as well as an intricate wine wall showcasing the extensive wine collection.

Campania, 4029 North Miami Avenue in Miami’s Design District, is open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and dinner from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday-Thursday and from 4 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.   (786) 615-3301; www.campania-ristorante.com

Following his recent acquisition of the former NeMesis Urban Bistro, David Foulquier has appointed Chef Nicole Votano, former right-hand to Chef Michelle Bernstein, as Executive Chef  at Fooq’s, in Downtown Miami’s up-and-coming Arts & Entertainment District.

Votano will add her signature, home-cooked style to the innovative and flavorful dishes at Fooq’s, a farm-to-kitchen concept which is the culmination of both Foulquier’s and Votano’s travels around the world.  “Our shared passion for food has allowed us to feed off of each other’s culinary inspirations, offering a canvas to lay out our ever-evolving ideas,” said David Foulquier.

Best known for her home-style cooking at Michelle Bernstein’s Design District restaurant staple Crumb on Parchment, Chef Votano, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York City, has held positions at Kimpton Group’s French brasserie Grand Café, Bradley Ogden’s restaurant One Market, The Four Seasons Hotel and the Biltmore Hotel’s Fontana Restaurant. As Michelle Bernstein’s Executive Catering Chef, Votano also played a key role in her infamous pop-up dinners.

Fooq’s will be open to the public in early 2015, with a full lunch and dinner menu . 1035 N. Miami Ave. (Downtown Miami) next door to The Corner Bar. www.fooqsmiami.com

 

bagatelleOn the heels of their extremely successful locations in New York, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, St. Barths and St. Tropez; owners Aymeric Clemente & Remi Laba have opened the 144-seats outdoor/indoor Bagatelle Miami Beach.

Designed by Celano Design, with decorative moldings, plush banquets, numerous crystal chandeliers, bright fresh flowers and eye catching pop art provided by Opera Gallery, Bagatelle Miami Beach highlight is  a  stone top bar with a display of the finest selection of wines and Champagne, cocktails and spirits.

The French contemporary cuisine by Executive Chef Matthieu Godard includes Tartare de Thon Bagatelle- Ahi Tuna Tartar, Avocado Chutney, Cripsy Shallot, Key Lime Soy Dressing, Papdum Tuile;  Gnocchi Truffes a la Parisienne - Homemade Gnocchi, Black Truffle Sauce, Aged Parmesan Cheese;  Gambas au Pastis - Jumbo prawn, flambé with Pernod Ricard, green vegetable risotto; and Poulet Entier Rôti à laTruffe -  Whole Truffled Roasted Chicken, Country Style Potatoes, Caramelized Cipollini, Button Mushrooms, Thyme Chicken Jus.

Bagatelle Miami is located at 2000 Collins Avenue and is open Sunday-Wednesday 6:00PM – 12:00AM;  Thursday-Friday 6:00PM – 1:00AM and Saturday 6:00PM-1:00AM. 

www.bistrotbagatelle.com

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Achile Sassoli, Director of Gelato World Tour
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