Best Gnocchi 2008 | Perricone's Marketplace & Cafe | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Photo by Lynn Parks

It takes practice to achieve perfection, particularly with regard to gnocchi. It's an easy recipe — usually just potatoes, eggs, water, and flour. But making it is somehow quite difficult. Add too much water and you need more flour; add too much flour and you get a dumpy mess.

Luckily for gnocchi lovers, George Tavares has been practicing his craft for more than 30 years. He makes the delicate Italian dumplings served at Perricone's. Not only does he have the experience to make them great, but also he has the passion. Rafael Van de Water, a chef at the eatery, says of Tavares: "I have watched him make them numerous times, and it truly is a labor of love."

You can get them served with coral pink, quattro formaggi, or Perricone's famous pomodoro sauce. They're amazing with any of the three. At lunchtime, a plate will cost $12.95; at dinner, $14.95. Perricone's is open Monday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Bay Harbor Fine Foods has been spruced up just in time to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Half a century of catering to a fussy, upscale clientele is just the right sort of experience for a gourmet market. That's plenty of time to fine-tune a selection of artisanal cheeses and fine chocolates from Europe, to make sure the array of imported wines and beers is perfect, and to secure the finest purveyors of meats, seafoods (the shop specializes in stone crab), high-end groceries, and organic produce to stock the modern yet rustic-styled store. Over the decades, the shop has installed an olive bar, tapas bar, sushi bar, coffee bar, and wood-burning pizza oven. Breads and pastries come from the excellent Paul Bakery. Bay Harbor Fine Foods is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and offers indoor and outdoor seating. It's a wonder folks shop anywhere else.

Natalia Molina

Short of having a Haitian grandmère up to her apron strings in pigs' feet at home, you aren't likely to find better-tasting and less-expensive Haitian comfort food than this. The griot (fried pork) is tender and the stewed goat heavenly. The menu is short and sweet, so just pick the type of meat or fish you want (you can also order grits and legumes as entrées) and place your order. Each plate comes with rice, beans, plantains, and salad. Pound for pound, the fare at this Little Haiti fave is less expensive than fast food and much better for you (add a soft drink and your dinner total still runs under $10), but arrive hungry, because the portions are huge. Soups are offered on the weekends. There's a steady stream of customers, so you might have to wait a bit either in the main restaurant or even at the pick-up window, which thankfully stays open until midnight every night but Sunday.

Last night some reckless gentlemen by the names of Johnny Walker, Jim Beam, and Jack Daniel took a crowbar to your liver and beat the bejesus out of your gastrointestinal tract. Or at least that's how you feel this morning. Like a steaming pile of turd smacked you in the face. Like a small, filthy animal curled up and died in your mouth. Like a freight train ... Okay, okay, we'll stop teasing and tell you what you need to do to get over your stankin' hangover. Get out of bed, take a warm shower, get dressed, and head to the Conrad Miami. It's Sunday brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and you can feast, be pampered, and rejuvenate your weary, alcohol-poisoned internal organs.

Fifty-five dollars brings you everything you need. Waffles? Check. Sushi? Hell yeah. Spectacular salads with all the toppings you could want? Oh yeah. Omelets and a carving station? Double-check. Besides the typical brunch fixings, there's also a hangover corner. Stock up on fresh fruit so delicious you expect it to be dangling from tree branches, fill your plate with a selection of cured meats and cheeses liberally studded with nuts and berries, and expect to make repeat visits to the dessert station. After that, hit up the balcony for a gander at the gorgeous 25-story-high view. End with Cuban coffee and biscotti, or hot tea served with lemon and a jar of honey for your raw throat. Ah, sweet relief.

Let's face it: Whole Foods is a hassle. It's always crowded, the aisles are tiny, and the atmosphere is more annoyance than ommmm. Enter Delicious Organics. It's a virtual store — locally owned by Jack and Annie Malka — that delivers produce and healthful groceries right to your home or office. There are 4,000 items available — from a giant, $75 "fruit and veggie lovers' box" to a Brillat Savarin Cheese Mini with Truffles for $14.49. Online purchasing is easy, and the site handily remembers your order history. Products are expensive, but no more so than those at Whole Foods — and in some cases, the produce boxes are a much better value than what you would buy at the grocery store. The difference between this and a co-op is that with Delicious Organics, you decide what to get. Quality is high — the folks at Delicious Organics try to buy locally whenever possible, so there's often dirt on your carrots when they arrive on your doorstep. Delivery is a flat rate of $9.95, which seems like a fair price in exchange for not driving to the store, battling the people in the produce aisles, and waiting forever in the checkout lines. If you really want to save on the delivery fee, you can still order online and pick up your groceries at the warehouse in Miami Lakes.

Ana Rabel and Laura Alfonso, proprietors of this health-oriented breakfast and lunch spot in Coral Gables, are a mother and daughter team. That's uncommon in the restaurant world, and so is their dedication to serving organic fruits and vegetables in eco-friendly containers. Green Gables Café is mostly a take-out/delivery joint (open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays only), but there are 15 seats cozily nestled within. "Saving the world, one bite at a time" is the motto, and while it is fair to wonder whether eating a homemade bran muffin here in the morning will bring salvation to the planet, there is no questioning the muffin's quality. Baked organic eggs and vegetables, organic yogurt and berry parfait, and all manner of smoothies and fresh-squeezed juices can also start your day off right. Freshly prepared soups (green gazpacho is great), salads, sandwiches, wraps, and melts (all served with choice of organic chips or carrot sticks) compose the rest of the menu. There are homemade desserts, too, and organic coffee. Everything is under $10 (actually $9, except for a baked crabcake and mandarin orange salad). So while saving the world, you can also save yourself some money.

Named for legendary Dolphins running back Larry Csonka, the Zonker transforms the average hoagie into a monumental wrecking ball of salami, ham, Provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, oil, and mayo jammed into a sub roll. And for $3.89, it's too good a delicacy to pass up. So go ahead and score one inside Football Sandwich Shops, a storied eatery located between Little Haiti and El Portal. Munch on it amid the posters and pictures of some of Hollywood's golden boys and girls. There's Ronnie Reagan as gunslinger, Jackie Gleason as pool shark, Marilyn Monroe as pneumatic nitwit, the Babe and Joe DiMaggio as baseball icons. But it's the homage to the greatest quarterback to never win a Super Bowl that really grabs your gaze. The painting depicts Dan Marino, his head and bare shoulders rising from the salty blue Atlantic. As lightning sparks in an ominous black sky, dolphins leap over Number 13 and into the water.

In the walls are actual holes that are bigger than this tiny, French-ified Biscayne Boulevard café, but Le Glacier makes up for its lack of size and spiffy ambiance with simple, honest, well-prepared food at blessedly modest prices, with a big helping of neighborhoody charm thrown in for good measure. Onion soup, chicken with Dijon mustard sauce, lamb Provençale — they're all good, and nothing costs more than 13 bucks. Of course, you could go to one of those larger and grander restaurants, but when it comes to good food that won't break the bank, does size really matter?

Bigoli is a pasta from the Veneto region. Shaped like thick spaghetti and coarsely textured, it is made by pushing dough through an instrument called a bigolaro. The Sicilian paccheri looks like a thick snippet of garden hose and in the early 1600s was used to smuggle banned garlic cloves from Italy into Austria. At the elegant La Marea in the newly refurbished The Tides South Beach, paccheri is served with pork cheeks and porcinis, and the bigoli is bolstered by a hot arrabiata sauce. Milanese chef Pietro Rota also shows flair with less artisanal cuts such as fettuccine, which comes finessed with chunks of lobster in a minty cream sauce, as well as an open ravioli plumped with puréed potato and Taleggio cheese, crowned with black truffle slices and the unctuous yolk of a softly poached organic egg. Prices range from $20 to $30 for the pastas, although you will surely be tempted to try other items on Marea's menu, especially the grilled seafoods freshly flown in from the Mediterranean coast.

Scene: A distraught man is sitting in a psychiatrist's office.

Doctor: Sometimes a hot dog is just a hot dog.

Patient: No, you don't understand. It isn't just that this hot dog is Colombian-style, which means fatter and juicier than those little wieners they hand out at those cruddy chains. And it isn't that La Perrada's dogs are addictive, nestled in those fresh, plush buns. It's the toppings, doc. The toppings are driving me mad!

Doctor: Please, lower your voice. If people in the waiting room hear you screaming about frankfurters, they'll think you're crazy.

Patient: Crazy? I'll give you crazy. How about Edgar Gomez, a former fashion designer, turning into the hot dog's top dog in Bogotá before letting his dogs out on the Little Colombia stretch of Collins Avenue and 70th Street? And if you want frickin' crazy, how about putting sausage, mozzarella, pineapple, potato sticks, and cheese sauce on a hot dog? Or the same mix but with shrimp and crab instead of pineapple? Or — heavens to Betsy — pineapple, peaches, plums, and whipped cream. On a frankfurter! And they all cost less than five dollars!

Doctor: Sometimes chopped onions and pickle relish are just chopped onions and — wait, did you say pineapple, peaches, plums, and whipped cream?

Patient: Yes, thank goodness you're finally catching on.

Doctor: I'm afraid our time is up. Well, maybe it's a little early, but we'll add it to next week's session. I've just been consumed by the strangest craving ...

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®