So far, Miami has barely acknowledged the pop-up-dining movement that has captured many other cities' imaginations. The concept is simple: A restaurant pops up in an unused space for a limited, specifically planned period of time. It allows chefs and restaurateurs to operate with far less financial pressure than in a permanent eatery. Miami's first real popup, Phuc Yea!, had a successful three-month run in the Ingraham Building downtown.
Our second "restaurant installation" comes via Giorgio Rapicavoli and Alex Casanova, a pair that opened Eating House on Ponce de Leon Boulevard in early February; the planned expiration date comes this August. Judging by the swelling crowds and critical approval this popup has thus far engendered, there will surely be calls for an encore.
Rapicavoli, a 26-year-old Miami native, came to national attention when he copped first prize on Food Network's Chopped. Afterward, he continued his three-year chef stint at 660 at the Angler's, but the $10,000 in prize money was burning a hole in his pocket just as surely as the notion of fulfilling his own culinary vision had seared itself into his mind. In January, he left 660 and turned his cash and fiery passion into Eating House.
By day, the locale is Café Ponce, an unassuming storefront luncheonette with an L-shaped counter and table seating for 48. By night (after 7 p.m.), street-art canvases are slapped onto the walls, the lights are dimmed, and the space is transformed into an unassuming storefront restaurant with an unpretentious neighborhood vibe. It's like a place you might come across in some small European town, where the décor is an afterthought but the food is meticulously focused.
Read the review of Eating House here.
View photos of Eating House here.