Downtown Bistro Is Miami's French Connection

Categories: First Bites

Photo by Holly Wachowicz
Downtown Bistro does dinner every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Open for just ten months, this French eatery has been serving the downtown masses during lunchtime.

But after much thought, owners Jonathan and Ilona Carrell began offering dinner, a much more difficult feat than serving lunch. Why? Because on this downtown street at night, you could hear a pin drop.

Ilona, originally from Austria, met Jonathan (French-American) in the South of France. They fell in love and planned to open a French fusion restaurant in Miami. Finding the classically trained chef Johanna Faraldo and having a hands-on approach, they created their own little lovely niche.

Short Order recently stopped by to taste some items on the menu.

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Proof Pizza & Pasta: Homemade Fennel Sausage, Oxtail Pizza, and Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches

Categories: First Bites

All photos by Carla Torres
Angel hair pasta is heavenly
There's something great about Neapolitan-style pizza. Perhaps it's the cloud-like dough that improves after every bite. Or the molten center that forms from the marriage of cheese and sauce. It's a unique style of pizza, and at Proof Pizza & Pasta in Midtown, it's the specialty.

Executive chef and owner Justin Flit wanted to bring some diversity to the neighborhood. "With Harry's right down the street, we are really trying to set ourselves apart," he says. "We're not really going for the mamma Italian restaurant feel but all-around Italian food." We stopped in for a taste of the inventive cuisine that extends beyond dough and toppings.

See also: Proof Pizza & Pasta Brings Neapolitan Style to Midtown

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CVI.CHE 105 Invades South Beach (Photos)

All photos by Carla Torres
Fuente Pacífico at CVI.CHE 105.
In 2007, when downtown Miami was not a desirable place to be after 5 o'clock, Juan Chipoco and Luis Hoyos took a chance and purchased a sliver of space known as La Cibeles Cuban Restaurant. After flipping Cuban sandwiches in a city that offers better Cuban food than the island itself didn't prove too successful, the two rethought their strategy.

"What could we bring to the table that wasn't already here?" they asked themselves. The answer was ingrained in their DNA -- cuisine from their native Peru. In 2008, just a year later, CVI.CHE 105 replaced La Cibeles and became a citywide sensation practically overnight.

Granted, the original space was as cramped as a can of sardines, so they bought the location next door within the first year and expanded to 200 seats. Five years later, CVI.CHE 105 in downtown is crowded all hours of the day. And just a week after their South Beach location opened, it seems to be on the same track to success.

See also: Moroccan Hideaway Fez Is a Reason to Reconsider Española Way

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Vagabond Restaurant Menu Preview: Short Ribs, Seasonal Flavors, and Grasshoppers

All photos by Laine Doss
Communal dining at The Vagabond Restaurant.
The Vagabond Restaurant hasn't even opened yet and already it's one of the most talked about places to open in Miami.

It could be the restaurant's setting, at the newly refurbished Vagabond Hotel, a MiMo gem on Biscayne Boulevard, or it could be the chance to see art and food integrated together, with pieces curated by partner Alvaro Perez.

Ultimately, it's the anticipation of eating chef/partner, Alex Chang's food. Chang found notoriety when his underground restaurant at an on-campus apartment at the University of Southern California was made into the documentary, Paladar, by filmmaker Gil Freston.

See also: Vagabond Restaurant in MiMo: Art Is an Integral Part of the Menu

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Pane & Vino in South Beach: Try the Pear Stuffed Pasta

Categories: First Bites

Photo by Carina Ost
Fruit filled.
There are few dishes that I remember with such fondness as a pear stuffed pasta that I once enjoyed at a trendy restaurant in Barcelona. The sweetness paired with sharp cheese in its soft doughy casing left a lasting impression. Imagine my surprise when a similar dish appeared on the menu of a charming five-month-old Italian restaurant in the heart of Washington Avenue near Espanola Way and across the street from nightclubs and strip clubs.

It is very easy to miss Pane & Vino as you walk or drive by, but a theater-like display in the window of someone making fresh pasta may entice you. This restaurant takes a gamble by giving a prime seating area to this cooking display. It pays off. The adorable eatery has quotes and wine on the wall and a convenient collections of oil, vinegar, salt and pepper for each table. If you sit along the wall, expect yours in its own private table side shelf.

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Moye Opens in Brickell: House-Made Mozze and Rum-Spiked Granita

Categories: First Bites

Photos by Carla Torres
Brickell isn't exactly a dining destination, but Tony Gallo and Pietro Vardeu hope to change that perception. If those names ring a bell, it's likely because you've downed bowls of pasta at their South Beach restaurant, Sardinia Enoteca.

Last week the duo quietly opened Moye in the center of Brickell, bringing Apulia, Italy's exceptional olive oil, burrata, and wine to the neighborhood and the United States. They've imported chefs from the Moye locations in Florence and Milan to make their first American location as authentic Apulian as possible, and Short Order was invited to taste.

See also: Moye in Brickell Opens on Tuesday

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Miami's Tacos Lead a National Revolution

Photo by Zachary Fagenson
Huitlacoche taco at Taquiza.
At this very moment, we are in the throes of a taco revolution. It's not a boom, as the New York Times so wrongly declared about chicken wings earlier this month. Neither tacos nor wings have experienced a decline in popularity.

But while the advances in wing cookery have remained mostly limited to sauces and accoutrements, the taco is seeing a renaissance. No longer does it remain at grab-and-go status. It has become something chefs treat with the same seriousness they would pâté en croûte.

See also: Tiny Taqueria Serves Miami's Most Authentic Carnitas

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Station 5 Table and Bar: Try the Braised Short Ribs With Cheetos

Photo by Holly Wachowicz
Station 5 Table and Bar
Serendipity led Julia Ning to Station 5 Table and Bar. Everything just began to fall into place, her sous chef Michael Gierden moved down from Chicago, then she met Eddie and Sharon Torres, the owners. From there, the front of the house and kitchen all just came together effortlessly.

Ning reminisces about the five older women who helped mentor her and shape her as a chef. These women made a strong impression on Ning's life, and many of her creations are attributable to them. Station 5 is named after these women, who taught her Italian, Chinese, Cuban, northern Thai, and French-Canadian dishes. The restaurant is a melting pot of all these different cultures.

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Via Emilia: Northern Italian in the Style of Bologna and Modena

Categories: First Bites

Photo by Holly Wachowicz
Mother, grandmother, and great great grandfather.
Francheso Pradini and chef Giancarlo "Wendy" Cacciatori provide a small peek into the cuisines of Bologna and Modena at their South Beach restaurant, Via Emilia. The name reflects their idea of establishing a non-Americanized Italian restaurant in Miami. When asked what makes them different from all other Northern Italian restaurants, Pradini says, "We have taken a little chunk of a corner street in Italy and placed it here. We did not compromise to make it Italian American."

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Vintro Kitchen: Fresh Flavors Inspired by Ingredients

Categories: First Bites

Photo by Carina Ost
Going Greek.
Park Avenue may carry big-time clout in other cities, but in Miami Beach, it is a virtually unknown street. It is behind a museum and a street where you might score some parking. That is, until now. A few months ago, a charming boutique hotel, Vintro Hotel & Kitchen, opened with a restaurant that really awakens the palate and neighborhood.

The fresh flavors hail from Greek-born chef and restaurateur Giorgios Nikolas Bakatsias, who teamed up with Eataly alum Keith Suarino as the executive chef. Expect fresh flavors of the Mediterranean and Old World cooking methods. The tagline is "inspired by the ingredients" and this kind of style is a welcome addition to the over-complicated cuisine of South Beach.

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