Chef/restaurateur Jamie DeRosa is marking two milestones within the same week.
Last Thursday, September 24, DeRosa and his wife Amy welcomed baby Charlotte Mae into the world. The healthy girl, weighing seven pounds, six ounces and measuring 20.5 inches long, was born at 8:49 p.m., the doting father reports. The couple's other daughter, 3-year-old Isabela Grace (Izzy for short) is the inspiration for DeRosa's other baby, which is about to be introduced to the world this week.
On Wednesday, September 30, Izzy's Fish & Oyster (423 Washington Ave., Miami Beach) will finally open. The restaurant, located on the same block of Washington Avenue as the chef's Tongue & Cheek, was originally scheduled to open in time for Miami Spice, but some finishing touches caused the restaurant to miss that mark. Last week, DeRosa posted a picture of his framed City of Miami Beach certificate of use, signifying the restaurant was officially able to receive diners.
The restaurant is the culmination of plans by the DeRosas to open a family restaurant reminiscent of the New England clam shacks Amy grew up visiting. Jamie DeRosa — who has worked with the likes of Geoffrey Zakarian, Allen Susser, and Wolfgang Puck before opening Tongue & Cheek — had a seafood restaurant on his mind for years. That idea was solidified when the DeRosas came upon a little restaurant in Rhode Island when taking their young daughter to visit family for the first time.
"We stumbled upon the Nor'easter Diner, that advertised fresh New England seafood. We shared a bowl of clam chowder, steamers, and homemade blueberry pie while I listened to Amy describe how she missed summer days near the ocean surrounded by family, friends, and food. I decided then that I wanted my daughter to experience the same. It was from this experience of sitting around the table, with my wife and daughter on a dreary day, reminiscing of childhood summers and enjoying amazing traditional food prepared from seafood that came from just across the street, that the concept of Izzy's was born."
The intimate 40-seat restaurant is decorated with gray stone floors, antique tin ceilings, and leather banquettes. A giant octopus, painted by mural artist Claudio Picasso, floats across the entry wall. (Picasso, by the way, was also commissioned to paint artwork at Tongue & Cheek.) The restaurant's 15-seat bar offers a view of the raw bar. There are 20 additional seats for dining outdoors.
DeRosa has tapped William Crandall as chef de cuisine. Crandall comes from a fine-dining background, working under Michelin-starred chef Andrew Zimmerman at NoMi restaurant in Chicago before working at Azul at the Mandarin Oriental Miami, where he was promoted to executive chef after being with the company for three years.
Together, the two
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The menu is divided into "Starters," "From the Basket," "Maines," and "Port & Starboard Sides." Dishes include favorites like a Maine lobster roll, served hot with lobster butter or cold with lobster mayo. Each roll features an entire lobster's worth of meat ($24). New England clam chowder is a traditional favorite with potato, leeks, and oyster crackers ($12), and fried clam bellies are offered with butter-pickled vegetables and lemon ($22).
The raw bar features six rotating varietals of East Coast oysters sourced exclusively from Island Creek Oysters in support of its farm and foundation ($19 for a half-dozen, $36 for a dozen). In addition, there will be clams with lemon salsa ($8 for eight); ceviche with chili, cilantro, and citrus ($14); and PEI mussels served bruschetta-style with white balsamic ($8 for eight).
Bar manager Maxwell Parise has created a menu of cocktails designed to pair best with shellfish, as well as a good selection of beers and wines. General manager Gustavo Rech, best remembered as DeRosa's Tongue & Cheek partner on Bravo's Best New Restaurant, is tasked with running the front-of-house experience. Rech says the restaurant "will feel like a casual, quintessential New England restaurant with sophisticated touches and a laid-back, neighborhood vibe. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable, and while we are eliminating the white tablecloths and structured uniforms, the restaurant will maintain fine-dining standards, quality of food, and service."
Izzy's Fish & Oyster is open seven days a week for happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. and dinner from 6 to 11 p.m. Lunch and rosé brunch will soon follow.