Quattro Gastronomia Italiana was our choice for Best New York Switcheroo restaurant in New Times' Best of Miami 2011 issue, but naturally we want to throw a little love to the Big Apple exports that didn't quite capture the top spot.
Although we are slightly ashamed to so loudly herald hand-me-downs from NYC, these guys are getting it right by installing extremely talented executive chefs in their stead. Solid communication ensures that execution resembles the original, while allowing locally based chefs to put a more personal stamp on special seasonal items and tasting menus.
5. Executive chef Mike Hiraga's Miami rendition of BONDST at the Townhouse Hotel perfectly re-creates dishes born in the NYC kitchen. So if you love the hot eel dice sushi at BONDST in the Village, you'll love it equally as much here. He also includes a few "Miami specialties" such as steamed sea bass in oyster sauce ($16), sake-steamed clams ($12), and a grilled rib eye ($22) -- because the Magic City loves its steaks. Miami's version is much smaller than its namesake, but the cool factor has been ferried successfully. This is definitely more lounge than restaurant, which offers an excellent excuse for an extreme edition of cocktail culture with your dinner.
4. Some say others fare better, but Danny Meyer's Shake Shack always has a ridiculously long line at lunchtime and a bunch of seriously happy-looking people eating those famous "roadside" burgers ($4.75). Yes, business is good, and a second Miami location is already in the works. From the glorious selection of completely irresistible custards ("coffee & donuts" and "salted caramel" vie for our favorite pick) to the "Shack Swag," we love it all. In fact, we want more interesting
3. Laurent Tourondel counts on chef de cuisine Sam Gorenstein (nominated twice for a Beard Award) to keep things on track at BLT Steak. This modern American steak house with a bistro infusion has spawned an empire for Tourondel, making it particularly important to rely on the talents of local chefs. Gorenstein's jalapeño mashed potatoes ($9) are surprisingly popular, but it's a fact that everything on the menu is executed flawlessly. Braised short ribs ($33) melt in your mouth, as does the juicy 22-ounce rib eye ($49). Even the seafood stands out -- from dover sole in a soy caper brown butter ($50) to grilled branzino with fennel salad and grapefruit emulsion ($31).
2. Chef de cuisine Michael Pirolo's execution of Scott Conant's dishes at Scarpetta is as close to the real thing as humanly possible. We honestly can't tell the difference between eating his legendary spaghetti in NYC versus Miami. The real test is in the tasting, and when tiny rolls of tuna "susci" ($17) show up on an Italian menu, we give pause, but not for long. That's the thing at Scarpetta -- Pirolo does everything well. The duck and foie gras ravioli ($26) is just as impressive as the local yellowtail snapper ($32) with asparagus, speck, and fresh basil. Seasonal specials such as zucchini blossoms ($18), stuffed with
sweet Maine shrimp, mortadella, pistachios, and ricotta cheese, show off the true meaning of delicious.
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1. Daniel Boulud's Miami outpost of DB Bistro Moderne benefits from the longtime relationship between the chef himself and executive chef Jarrod Verbiak, who began his career at Daniel in NYC. The exemplary delivery of simple French bistro classics makes DB the premier winner of the runnerups. Herb-roasted chicken ($29); plump, garlicky escargots persillade ($17); and moules provençal in a saffron and white wine broth ($28) all communicate care and precision on the plate. Oh, and DB also boasts Miami's best madeleines ($8), which arrive warm and cocooned in a fresh white napkin to keep them cozy, with a generous dusting of powdered sugar that melts into the skin of the cookie. A meal here is truly special from beginning to end.