For weeks now, we've been hearing rumors that New York eatery The Dutch was opening a Miami outpost at the former Solea space at the W South Beach Hotel. When we finally got the confirmation, we were excited, sure, but then wondered if Chef Carmellini's intentions were sincere or if he was just another New York chef turned snowbird.
Turns out, Carmellini has deep-seated roots in Miami. He shared his Miami ties and plans for his Miami restaurant on the phone with us while walking to a local Manhattan green market.
New Times: What are your visions for The Dutch in Miami Beach versus The Dutch in New York?
Andrew Carmellini: The Dutch is a very New York-centric restaurant. The look, the building, it all has a good sense of place, and that place is New York. That's my intention for the Miami space, as well. I don't want to just plop down the New York version. The design for Miami is going to be a little more airy, with lighter colors. The space lends itself to higher ceilings and it has an indoor/outdoor feeling. We are going to continue the tradition of having an oyster bar, and we're going to close off the area a bit more, so the restaurant has its own sense of place. I want The Dutch to be a place that Miami locals come to, not just a place that people in the hotel eat at.
Tell us about your Miami roots.
My family is from Miami. In the '40s and '50s, my grandfather was the general manager of the Surf Club. My father was raised in Miami and I've been coming here since I was zero. All my life. My aunt still lives in Coral Gables. I've come here so often, this is a bit of a homecoming.
The Dutch in New York uses many locally sourced ingredients. That being said, will you change the menu to incorporate more Miami-sourced foods?
We've already started cooking and testing some items that will be new Miami-specific dishes.
I'm already flying to Miami next week to visit some local sources. I have a list of 20 farmers that I'm going to go see. I'm not going to get to see everything in one trip, but I'll try to get in as many farms as I can.
On your website's info page, you state that you buy locally and are organic "sometimes." What does that mean?
If you're a contemporary American chef you're doing that anyway. You're trying to use local when possible - if it's good. Sometimes just being local doesn't mean it's the best. In New York, we use about 50% of produce from the green market.
What food can we expect from The Dutch? It's not Dutch food.
We serve ingredient-driven American food. Plus, we have a great steak program. So, basically, we cook what makes us happy.
The Dutch is a place where you can eat two, three times a week. You can get a great bowl of pasta, a salad and a glass of wine and get in and get out. Or, you can try something new that you haven't had before.
It's a good mix of neighborhood destination with a good social scene.
Why do you feel now is the time to open a restaurant in Miami?
Over the years, I've been looking. I never thought the location was right, or it wasn't the right opportunity. I stay at the W and I think they do a very good job there. It's a pretty good scene. Actually, it's the best scene on the beach.
We also like Karim [Masri] and Nicola [Siervo], who run the food and beverage operations at the hotel. And the Solea space was a great fit.
In the beginning our focus is to open the restaurant and make sure the restaurant is great and then we'll help out with the other hotel operations.
Where do you eat when you're in Miami?
I really like Michelle Bernstein and Michael Schwartz's food, so I'll go to one of their places. I love Garcia's and River Oyster Bar is really cool. Those are good too, because my aunt is from Coral Gables, so they're close to her.
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Michael Schwartz is taking over the Raleigh Hotel's restaurant, just down the street from your new spot. What do you think of the competition?
Mike's a cool dude. He's done very well in Miami and Miami loves him. He'll do good there. Competition's good, but I try to have a good relation with chefs in New York. I hope Mike comes to my place and I'll come to his place.
Do you plan on serving late night service, being that South Beach is such a late-night city?
We don't know yet. I think in the beginning we'll serve until midnight, and then go from there.
There are a lot of New Yorkers in Miami. Will they feel "at home" at The Dutch?
There's a lot of New York in Miami. I have a personal connection there and here and I'm excited to finally do something in Miami. We have a long lease at the Miami location, so we intend to be there for a long time.