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Lalo Durazo the owner of the popular Jaguar Latam Grill in Coconut Grove, has opened Mari Nalli Gourmet Quesadillas, a 50-seat indoor/outdoor restaurant where Café Buon Giorno used to be. The Chef is Robert Schwartz, formerly of The Palm, and the house manager is Rodrigo Hernandez, of Jaguar.
The concept for a self service restaurant “similar to Starbucks’”, is Mr. Durazo’s who came up with the idea “ to create an flavorful and healthy fast-food option for people who don’t have a lot of time and money but want to have an enjoyable meal in a comfortable and cozy environment.” Freshly baked in a turbo convection oven, and ready in less than a minute and a half, homemade flour Quesadillas, with sides of salsa and guacamole, come in 24 different options from the flavors of the world. Prices range from $4.60 to $8.25 for meals such as Chicken Beijing Quesadilla, with garlic, ginger, soy, cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, green onions, cilantro and jack cheese with chopped roasted peanuts; Italian-style lemon rosemary chicken with grilled zucchini, mozzarella and parmesan cheese; or Shrimp and portobello mushroom, mozzarella, spinach, sundried tomatoes and fresh basil. There’s a Parisian Quesadilla with brie cheese, asparagus, tomatoes and basil, and, of course Mexican quesadillas with chicken breast and roasted poblano peppers, tomatillo salsa and jack and Manchego cheeses. Quesadillas are also sold as take-out orders.
Mari Nalli serves salads, soups and desserts as well as wines and beers by the bottle and by the glass ($2.50). Throughout December they will offer a free glass of wine with the purchase of a quesadilla after 5 p.m.. Open 7 days for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 2271 Ponce Leon, (corner of Giralda), 305-648-0688.


The recently opened 8,000 square feet indoor/ourdoor Cielo Garden & Supperclub, on the corner of Mary Street and Florida Avenue in Coconut Grove, is partners Matt Goldman, Angel A. Sanchez, Manny Vadillo, and Michael Alvarez’s one-stop entertainment concept with an outdoor garden, wine and cigar lockers, a private chef’s table, a built-in entertainment stage, a bar, stylish lounge areas with leather couches and honey colored wood finishes, and 50” plasma TVs. Membership to The Cielo Celestial Wine & Cigar Club cards can be purchased for $495 a years and offers free cigars and special discounts on a variety of food and wine events.
The menu, traditional Latin cuisine with a modern twist, is presented in Spanglish and lists a variety of tapas, salads, sopas (all $8 to $10), ceviches ($8 to $11) and entrees ($18 to $ 55) with dishes such as Enrique’s Masterpiece a seafood zarzuela for two; Paella for two; Brown sugar mahi-mahi with herbed yogurt cream; Rack of lamb al café in a Spanish sauce with malanga puree and coffee macadamia nuts; and Rumba ravioli stuffed with black bean puree served with a fresh goat cheese sauce. By desserts ($6 to $7) it’s mostly Spanish with vanilla cheese cake, flan de mango, flan de guayaba y queso, torta de chocolate and peras al vino tinto.
Cielo Garden & Supperclub is open for dinner at 6:00 o’clock in the evening Tuesday through Sunday and features live music Wednesday through Saturday. Cielo will be open for lunch beginning in 2007. 3390 Mary Street, Coconut Grove, 305.446.9060.

The Food Gang, a 4,000 square foot space with a 100-seat reasonably priced fine dining restaurant, tapas bar and gourmet market, all under one roof is slated to open this December 2006 at 9472 Harding Avenue in Surfside. The brainchild of French born Patrick Charpentier--formely a managing director of the Remy Cointreau Group -- with chef Howard Kleinberg --formely of Mark’s South Beach, Tantra and Timo -- in the kitchen, offers from a simple salad to caviar; and from take-out prepared foods to imported delicacies.
Orange awnings at the entrance, daily handwritten specials, an L-shaped marble bar vie for space with an upscale gourmet market offering freshly baked breads, caviar, smoked salmon, smoked sturgeon and foie gras from Petrossian, products from luxury retailer Fauchon such as chocolates, tea, biscuits, jams, honey, fleur de sel, gift baskets; sauces from Harry Cipriani in Venice and a selection of quality cheeses from New York City’s legendary Murray’s Cheese Shop; as well as items sourced from South Florida purveyors.
The menu lists updated classics with starters ($7-$18) such as foie gras stuffed Vermont quail, and grilled calamari a la plancha. Entrees ($22-$41) including dry aged beef rib eye served with white anchovy butter and frites and Maine Diver scallops accompanied by a home made golden potato gnocchi with lightly crisped proscuitto and shaved black truffle, are sure to appeal to neighborhood gourmets and visitors alike. Desserts ($8-$10) are a study in decadence with beloved selections such as baba au rhum, golden apple tart and molten chocolate cake.
A tapas menu ($4 - $10) featuring small plates like Serrano ham, French cheese, foie gras and a Baltic plate is available at the tapas bar or in the dining room.
The Food Gang will serve dinner nightly from 6:00 p.m. to midnight; with the bar opening one hour earlier at 5:00 p.m. for “tapas hour.” Lunch service, starting shortly after opening, will be from 11:00 am. to 3:00 p.m. The market will be open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Food Gang is located at 9472 Harding Avenue in Surfside. 786-228-9292

Karma, an Asian cuisine and Far East inspired décor 130-seat restaurant with Asian lanterns, dark red textured walls painted with Chinese symbols, and a multitude of Indonesian and Chinese Buddha statues, has recently opened in Coral Gables, as a partnership between nightlife impresario Shawn Shahnazi, and Executive chef/co-owner Michael Schukar.
The cuisine is a blend of traditional Chinese cuisine and classic sushi incorporating French and Asian influences that Chef Shukar, who first honed his skills at Café TuTuTango, brings from his former training in Beijing, China, at PF Chang’s restaurants, and as executive chef at Tatu at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. "We prepare our dishes using classic Chinese and Japanese cooking techniques and fresh seasonal ingredients that are flown-in from all over the world," explained Schukar.
The menu with dishes meant-to-be-shared begins with appetizers ($6-$14) such as traditional botan ebi – a jumbo sweet shrimp served with black caviar and tempura shrimp heads as well as exotic wild mushroom gyoza with soy citrus sauce. Sushi ($8-$14) includes Karma roll, Hawaiian big eye tuna, crab, shrimp tempura and avocado drizzled with sweet soy. Schukar’s specialty are wok creations ($14-$25) like udon cashew chicken with Chinese vegetables and Japanese udon noodles, and Hong Kong pan-fried noodles with chicken, shrimp and Chinese vegetables served over a crispy noodle pancake.
Pan Asian dishes list a wok-seared New York stripfinished with Champagne kimchee sauce and tempura vegetables; charred rare Hawaiian Big Eye tuna sashimi with goat cheese sushi, soy mustard and classic beurre blanc. Desserts ($4-$12) include decadent banana caramel egg rolls, fresh ginger ice cream and Thai doughnuts. Among Karma’s exotic cocktails ($9-$14) the fiery Scorpion Bowl – a large fish bowl cocktail for two with rum and fruit juices, topped with a dose of blazing Bacardi 151; a Polynesian martini with kiwi, strawberries, papaya and mango-infused vodka; and Yuzu margarita. The bar offers a selection of chilled sakes, an assortment of Asian beers and an extensive wine list with selections available by the bottle and glass.
Karma is open for lunch and dinner Monday - Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Friday till midnight; for dinner only on Saturday: 5:00 p.m. to midnight; and is closed on Sunday. 2325 Galiano Street, Coral Gables. (305) 445-2293.

Ideas, a 60-seat restaurant where Il Tulipano briefly bloomed, decorated in light beiges and warm yellows, with a Chef’s table and an open kitchen, is the creation of Jose Luis Esteve. The menu is traditional and contemporary Spanish. The chef, Alvaro Beade, a native of Valladolid, Spain, is keen on using modern culinary techniques and technology with fine, fresh ingredients to achieve a style of food with unique and intense flavors. The menu will list specialties such as “Cochinillo Confitado,” “Judiones de la Granja,” “Chuletón a la Brasa,” traditional ‘tapas’ to be shared at the table, as well as an assortment of fresh Mediterranean fish and shellfish imported from Spain daily. In addition to an a la carte menu, there is a three course executive menu ($19.95 per person -- does not include tax or gratuity) that changes daily.
Ideas is open for lunch from Monday through Friday from 12pm – 3pm, and dinner from Monday through Thursday from 7pm – 10:30pm and Friday through Saturday from 7pm – 11:30pm. Ideas Restaurant, 2833 Bird Rd., Coconut Grove. 305. 567. 9074

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