Best Outdoor Dining 2011 | Cecconi's | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Sung to the tune of "My Way":

Martinis, I have a few
After work at dear Cecconi's
I meet some friends, have dinner too
Italian fare, it's all so tony.

The outdoor patio, so lush and green
An open sky, a lively scene
Fresh pastas too, divine cuisine
I love Cecconi's.

Tuscan bean soup and beef tartare
A thin-crust pie, a roast branzino,
I hope the waiter doesn't go far
We need more grated pecorino.

I finish off with tiramisu
Too bad there's no spumoni
One can't deny the price is high,
But I love Cecconi's.

Best Place for Outdoor Salad and Smoothie


The recent annual meeting in Copenhagen of the Committee to Study Things That Nobody Cares About yielded surprising yet, as always, unimportant news: Salads, smoothies, and other healthful foods are perceived by our taste buds to be more flavorful and satisfying when eaten in natural surroundings. The folks who funded these fictitious findings were fans of T.H.R.I.V.E., a raw/vegan restaurant located in the midst of the Garden Center in South Beach. There are a handful of lunches offered each day, including a daily bowl of cooked food and raw dishes. But one of three good reasons to eat here are the salads, with red, ripe tomatoes and other fresh produce — deliriously delicious when drizzled with tahini dressing. Smoothies ($6 to $7), whipped up with luscious local fruit, compose the second. Number three is the spacious and secluded dining patio, a green oasis in sync with the green food. And you don't need a committee to know that's the way it's supposed to be.
Florida International University
Florida International University has really given its Modesto A. Maidique Campus a beefy, chickeny, and smoothie-y makeover. When it was University Park, there were just blue tables. Hungry, broke, and with limited options, everyone ate Pizza Hut bread sticks and smoked pack after pack of cigarettes. Now FIU has perfected the art of food-courtism, and by perfected we mean Chick-fil-A. Obviously, this delightful eatery is a place for which we pigs would drive many miles out of our way, even if to obtain only a single waffle fry. Opened last August, the new PG5 (as in parking garage) Market Station on the north side of campus is home to other food spots as well. There's Moe's Southwest Grill, where you can chomp on a burrito; Papa John's, with its artery-clogging-but-worth-it garlic sauce; Dunkin' Donuts for a caffeine kick; Salad Creations for a deep inner cleansing; and Freshens for some smoothie vitamins. This garage food court boasts seating for 300 people, parking for visitors, and Wi-Fi and television, perfect for zoning out over your spicy chicken biscuit.
Tucked away in the shadows of the Miami Tower building is a quaint, colorful, brick-walked area that can be entered via four separate alleyways. In the center is a circle of some half-dozen eateries whose cuisines span the globe: Thai Angel, Habibi Mediterranean Grill, Pistou Bistro (casual French), Giovana Caffe (home-style Italian), Martini 28 (Asian/fusion), and Caprichos (Peruvian café/bakery). Outdoor tables at each place overlap a bit, and there are seats that run along the alleys. The court has a unique ambiance that can't be found anywhere else downtown — a cool, alternate oasis apart from the food chains that wrap up much of the lunchtime crowd.
Rain hits the windows at a staccato beat, like the trailing shots from a dying man's gun. At least this place should offer some shelter from the weather. I just hope they serve a good cup of joe. Looking at the menu makes me dizzy. Am I dreaming? While I was trying to shake those guys, did I somehow cross into Broward County? The busty Cubanita sitting in the booth across from me says otherwise: "No, papi. You esteel in Mi-yami." She looks away as if I'm nuts, and maybe I am. Meat loaf, collard greens, corn bread, mac and cheese, gravy — all for the crumpled face of Alexander Hamilton in my pocket, plus the quarter I found in the parking lot. I look around at the other booths. This reminds me of when I was just a freckle-faced punk back East, before I knew that women would do more damage than cigarettes and whiskey. After pouring a little something extra from the flask in my jacket pocket, I chug down the coffee the waitress with the mile-long stems brought. Mmmm, that's good. I start to feel alive again, and I order my dinner. The gringa waitress and the stacked Cubanita are exchanging looks. Let them — I'm gonna enjoy this.
Fernanda Torcida
"I do not like green eggs and ham." What about raw eggs and "ham"? How about a shot of green, green, grass? Would you like that? Would you, I ask? How about some nacho "cheese"? What if I asked you, please? It's just so good for you, you see. When you eat straight from the tree. Pictures on the menu show which foods help your body glow. I saw what fed my brain and spine, and now I eat there all the time. Now for 20 bucks or less ,I don't feel like such a mess.
Photo courtesy of Zuma
Zuma roared into downtown Miami last year like some flashy Japanese Harley (zuma-zuma!). Everyone looked. First they saw the stunning Tokyo-inspired room, with soaring ceilings and a sleek merging of natural textures — granite, rice paper, Indonesian wood. Then they took in an open sushi counter that dishes market-fresh sashimi, nigiri, and maki. There was an open robata grill turning out pristine cuts of charcoal-licked meats, poultry, seafood, and vegetables. And how about the open kitchen, orchestrated by chef Bjoern Weissgerber, expertly cooking rice hotpots, rib eye steaks with wafu sauce, spicy lobster miso soup, and scallop tartare with fresh wasabi ponzu? Food was plated in a breathtakingly delicate and artistic fashion, and it tasted almost shockingly delectable. There was a sake bar that served some 60 varieties of the elixir (including the luscious biwa no choju, brewed exclusively for Zuma) and an outdoor terrace overlooking the Miami River. All in all, they saw one of the most exciting new restaurants to pull onto our streets in years. They came, they saw, and they could only sigh in admiration.
Photo by Rebecca Blanco
The original Jimmy'z Kitchen has long provided freshly cooked meals from its tiny, weathered location in a little, rickety strip mall on Alton Road in Miami Beach. The venue is easy to pass without noticing, which is probably why lots of SoBe natives don't even know it exists. But the new Jimmy'z, on the ground floor of the Cynergi Building in Wynwood, is different. It's hard to believe it's a spinoff of the Alton Road classic. The place is so bright, shiny, and colorful that it looks a bit like a fast-food chain, but this fare is cooked slowly, with care, and is packed with enormous flavor. The much-expanded menu includes panini, salads (the jerk chicken and mango ensemble is peerless), and amazingly gratifying main courses that run the global gamut from shrimp creole to steak frites to seared ahi tuna to country beef stew. Mofongo, the Puerto Rican ode to plantains, protein, and garlic, is among the best in town. Beverage selections are extensive as well — there's a wide array of soft drinks and craft beers, along with wines by the bottle and glass. Prices are more than fair – just about everything is under $20, and there are plenty of good eats for less than $10. About the only thing that isn't different about this new place is chef/owner Jimmy Carey, who earned his chops at Miami's great and long-departed Brasserie Le Coze (itself a spinoff of NYC's legendary Le Bernardin). His gastronomic savvy has gone about as unnoticed as the original Jimmy'z, but that won't be the case for long.
When Goldstein & Sons opened at Collins Avenue and 74th Street 30 years ago, there was no shortage of competition with three other kosher butcher shops and deli markets in the surrounding North Beach neighborhood. Today, rechristened with a slightly different name, the mom-and-pop store is the last one standing. Jews and gentiles from all over Miami-Dade's northeastern communities trek here for a truly authentic deli experience that has become a part of Miami Beach's rich Jewish roots. Goldstein's significance was recently documented in a short film by a young Jewish auteur named Aaron Davidson, titled A Slice of Life. In the minidoc, family patriarch Joe and his customers share recollections as the butcher, his son, and his grandchildren prepare orders. The images convey the pride and hard work the Goldsteins put in six days a week. At the deli counter you will find homemade gravlax for $6.25 per quarter-pound. Salads range from $4.99 (potato or cucumber) to $9.98 a pound (all-white tuna). Deli sandwiches overloaded with corned beef, pastrami, bologna, salami, turkey, roast beef, brisket, or tongue are available for $7.95 or $9.95. You can also purchase deli meats to take home. For holiday dinners and special occasions, Goldstein's offers a 12-person food platter for $189 that includes five rotisserie chickens or a 14-pound turkey, four quarts of homemade chicken soup with matzo balls, 12 pieces of gefilte fish, a potato kugel, two pounds of carrot tzimes, and four pounds of hot or cold side salads. But if you have a few more shekels, go with the $249 brisket platter. Goldstein's opens at 8 a.m. five days a week. Friday it's open from 7 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. On Sundays, closing is 2 p.m., and Thursday it's 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Goldstein's shuts at 6 p.m.
Food blogger Veggie Alice here. A bit about myself: I am a dental assistant by trade, so I can't say I have much in the way of culinary background — unless you count the time I served hors d'oeuvres at a party that Demi Moore attended! And I'm usually not big on steak houses; they're so dark and scary! But I make it a point to help my readers select the best places to dine, and my favorite steak house is 1500 Degrees. The steaks (some under $25, most under $34) are cooked at that temperature, which lends an ideally charred crust — that's neat and also hot! "Farm-to-table eating with a steakhouse sensibility" is the motto here, and vegetables culled locally are fantastic: fresh chickpeas; shisito peppers; charred Brussels sprouts; roasted beets; braised mustard greens smoked with Benton's bacon; duck-fat steak fries. Plus the earth-toned room doesn't look all dim and foreboding. Chef Paula DaSilva showed her chops on Hell's Kitchen, and at 3030 Ocean for many years before that. Veggie Alice likes female chefs. And, as I say, I really like 1500. It's a place for people like me who enjoy steaks but not necessarily steak houses. But those who like steak houses will like it too, mainly because of the steaks. Next week: Burger joints that sell smoothies!

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®