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Chefs Jennifer Chaefsky and Michael Pirolo, alongside hamachi crudo.
Chefs Jennifer Chaefsky and Michael Pirolo, alongside hamachi crudo.

Bazi

When Michael Pirolo returned to the U.S. at age 25 after four years of staging in Italy, he brought back more than the recipes that helped make Scarpetta and later Macchialina successes. During his time there, he picked up a number of a tricks and lifelong lessons from the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cooks he worked alongside. They all manifest at Bazi, his seemingly unexpected Asian joint that opened in Collins Avenue's fabled Marlin Hotel. Throughout the week, vermilion snapper, hogfish, or whatever's available is delivered from Islamorada. The fish is deboned, dredged in rice flour, and pan-fried until the skin crisps into briny curls. The accompanying green papaya salad isn't for the faint of heart but should be heaped on. The musty funk of the fish sauce dressing is as pungent and awe-inspiring as anything on the streets of Southeast Asia. It's clear Pirolo isn't dumbing down his cooking or the robustness of Asian ingredients to capitalize on his successes.

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