R House: With Time, Restaurant and Gallery Space Could Conquer Wynwood
Rocco Carulli frantically darts among large canvases smeared with thick blobs of richly-hued oil paint. His smile is infectious, like that of a born entertainer, but there's also the nervous quiver of a new restaurateur. He sports a shaved head, a meticulously trimmed salt-and-pepper beard, and a spotless white chef's coat. As he nears a table, he bends into a slight bow and lays a hand on a patron's shoulder in the restaurant's dim dining room.
billwisserphoto.com Sweet pea falafel and corvina ceviche at R House.
"Everything OK?" he quickly asks. "Can we bring you anything else?"
Seconds later, he moves to a table of women sipping brightly colored drinks from frosty martini glasses.
"Can we clear these plates out of your way?" he inquires.
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Then, with two arms full of dishes, he disappears into the kitchen for a few minutes, only to emerge carrying a dinosaur-size lamb shank scented with a fragrant cinnamon-coriander rub. The slow-roasted meat is covered in a rich yet pleasantly puckering port wine reduction.
billwisserphoto.com Inside R House.
As a waiter, Carulli is a natural. He spent 13 summers running the kitchen at Edwige at Night in Cape Cod, followed by winters as a server at Wish, Tony Goldman's now-closed Miami Beach restaurant. He moved to Miami full time in 2012 hoping to open a restaurant.
R House, which began serving in January at 2727 NW 2nd Ave., is part restaurant, part art gallery, and unabashedly inspired by the neighborhood the Goldmans helped build. "I love the vibe here," Carulli says. "It's got the kind of energy I want to be involved in."
An exterior wall of the 4,300-square-foot Wynwood warehouse is covered by a geometric rainbow mural featuring Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí's unmistakable wispy mustache and wide-eyed stare. Inside, the restaurant is like a dark artist's 1990s opening. Bright spotlights shine onto German painter Dietmar Brixy's abstract oil works that hang on large concrete panels framed in thick black steel piping.
In the dimness, heavy oak-topped tables surrounded by smoke-gray chairs reflect off a polished concrete floor. Nearly two-thirds of the interior space serves as a lounge. A stainless-steel bar stands in front of tempered glass shelving that holds spirits and liquors. Chocolate-brown banquettes and oversize cushioned ottomans sit between more panels of Brixy's swirled, bright paintings.
Art attacks from all angles. Teals, blues, greens, oranges, and yellows provide an explosion of color. In a courtyard, a mural with a massive pair of squinting, fire-red eyes glares at diners while a pigeon carries a string of triangular flags in its beak.