Best Seafood Restaurant - 2010
Claudio Giordano's Alta Mar restaurant in South Beach had been an unqualified success since 2002, so it came as a surprise when this past year, he moved the eatery next door, brought in new chef Simon Stojanovic, and even changed the name of the place by adding an e to the end. The current space boasts an open kitchen, chef's table, intimate bar, and private dining rooms. Stojanovic, who learned a thing or two about cooking while working as Michael Schwartz's sous chef, boasts a menu of creatively plated, locally snared seafood (along with sustainable meats and pastas made in-house). Starters include grilled octopus with chorizo, grilled lemon, green tomato, and saffron aioli served over warm farro ($15) — that's a daring juggle of flavors, but Stojanovic keeps them in the air. Entrées are no less captivating: Pan-seared halibut with Swank Farms watercress, Borek Farms heirloom tomatoes, Florida avocados, and arugula vinaigrette not only taste fantastic but also demonstrate an allegiance to local growers. While ingredients are close to home, the culinary style pays homage to the Mediterranean — as in a pan-seared striped sea bass over risotto with sage, pistachios, and Meyer lemon ($29). What was a very good seafood restaurant is now a great one.