They're neighbors on Lincoln Road, but I suppose the new restaurant Azul, located next to Nexxt, didn't learn from the mistake Nexxt made by copying the Cheesecake Factory a bit too closely for that billion-dollar chain's comfort. The Cheesecake Factory sued, and the Mandarin-Oriental, whose restaurant Azul was just awarded four (out of five) Mobil stars, is likely to do likewise. I mean really, I know South Beach has an insular attitude, but who in this city hasn't heard about M-O's Azul -- Esquire's Best New Restaurant for 2001, chef Michelle Bernstein and her risqué advertisement -- by now? My advice to the duplicate Azul: Before the papers are served, go Roja.
•Forget Gulf War vets and Attack on America firefighters: The biggest hero's welcome I've seen goes to Fabio Rolandi, chef-proprietor of the eponymously named new restaurant on Ponce de Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables. Wearing a variety of culinary ribbons and medals on his chef's jacket, Rolandi hosted a media dinner that had more cameras rolling and popping than a J. Lo sighting. Why the fuss? Two reasons. Uno, Rolandi formerly ran Casa Rolandi, a wonderful, highly regarded restaurant in the Gables that went out of business about eight years ago (but spawned a couple of other eateries, including Café Romeo). And due, along with truly sophisticated Italian fare, you can actually score a real Milano-style pizza here, along with some of the biggest, juiciest olives (in bowls on the bar) I've had since Carmine Giardini's market in Aventura closed up shop. So? I won't be throwing ticker tape, but I will be working that register tape, ringing up bill after bill after bill....
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•Reader kvetches: Normally I reserve this space for my own complaints, but you've been unusually vocal the past couple of weeks. So I'll let you have your say, even if you don't sign your name to the e-mails, like the dude who pointed out that my advice to Pua Café and Wine Bar was erroneous. Forget the fact that this so-called wine bar didn't have any white wine in stock. As in, not even a single bottle. My suggestion that the owners go out and buy some could cause them to lose their beer-and-wine license, as an archaic law on the books has, according to this guy, "create[d] a monopoly for liquor, wine, and beer distributors that prevent[s] a café, restaurant, or bar from purchasing at a retail store, whether it is cheaper than the distributor due to a special sale, or even if the business runs out of their supplies." Okay, point taken. But I won't tell if you won't.
•And point taken from Patricia Killian, the linguistics professor at FIU who sent a note to WLRN's Joseph Cooper about Linda Gassenheimer's show on which I was a guest recently. Apparently one of us used the word gypped. According to Killian, "The word is a shortened form of 'Gypsy' and is used to indicate that someone has cheated someone as “Gypsies by nature do.' ... The one million American Gypsies, or Travellers, fight the use of the word and the stereotypes the word calls to mind." I appreciate the fact that Killian indicated in her note that she was "sure that you did not know that the use of the word gyp is every bit as offensive as the use of the word Jew but now that you do, [you] will be less likely to use it on-air or anywhere else," and that since she could not remember who had actually uttered the word, requested that Cooper pass "this message to either Linda or Jan ... so that they'll be aware of the ethnic slander that the use of the word engenders." Although I couldn't entirely confirm Killian's assertion, I'm willing to delete the use of the word from my vocabulary. But for the record: It's Jen, and like all Jens everywhere, I fight the nomenclature slander that the use of the name Janengenders.