We've all been there: buzzing after a long night of drinking and starved for some home-style cooking, only to end up at Taco Bell or Checker's or maybe even Denny's. Get ready to wave goodbye to late nights of processed foods and bad decisions when Biscayne Diner opens for business at the end of the month.
The venture of husband and wife Tara Nicosia and Alfredo Alvarez, Biscayne Diner will proffer traditional diner fair (think burgers and shakes) and unorthodox grub (fresh juices and hearty salads) 24 hours a day. 'Cause it ain't a real diner unless it's open 'round the clock.
This is a couple with some serious culinary cred. Alvarez was the opening executive chef for Seasalt & Pepper (now known as Seaspice), as well as for Giacosa more than a decade ago.
As for Nicosia, this is her second concept place. She opened the first, This Little Piggy, in her hometown of New York City. "I had garbage guys from DPW sit at the counter next to ladies in their Lululemons," she says. She's going for the same eclectic vibe at Biscayne Diner -- and is likely to get it with its location on Biscayne Boulevard at NE 86th Street and the area's dearth of decent places to eat. In fact, during an interview with New Times, a handful of people, from a couple in their 20s to a woman in her 60s, walked up to the locked doors. Nicosia, who signed the lease December 4 and acquired the diner from its previous owners, had planned to open Biscayne Diner by now, but some unfinished business with the city and final touches have delayed it. "Only a couple of more weeks, though."
The interior will make you feel as though you're on the platform of a NYC train station. "The floor dipped here, so we thought why not make it sort of an entrance to the subway." NYC artist Don Rimx has drawn a mural of Lady Liberty wrapping around the entire city. "It kind of looks like me, don't you think? We think it's me looking over the city." Whatever it is, it's dope. The front, middle, and back of the train are broken up through bits and pieces of the smaller walls. As for the decor, it's classic retro diner. Think red booths, checkered floors, white lights, and a counter with round stools. That's where you'll be able to watch Nicosia making things from scratch. "We're not buying anything. In New York I even made my own mozzarella and roasted peppers. The plan is to replicate that here.
"Coming from New York, diners are nostalgic. When you eat something and you're still thinking about it two days later, that's the kind of food we're going to make." When she asked friends and customers about the dish they thought about most, the consensus was asparagus soup. "I love to make soup, but I also love making high-end salads," Nicosia says. Both will be on the menu, as well as breakfast delights such as PB&J French toast, skillet squash tomato frittata, and lunch/dinner items such as pork shank osso bucco, skillet Mediterranean orzo with fish, and a dreamy panini (grilled country ham and peach with melted fontina). "Our style for creating these items will be done in skillets mainly. They bring out flavors and melt things just right."
There will also be sundaes, milkshakes, big frozen yogurt, iced coffee, craft beer, wine, and a daily "fat fuck special."
"I love food, but I also love it to be clean. In New York, I would go visit farms all the time and get some really great stuff, then build dishes around that. That's kind of the concept of the 'fat fuck special' -- clean ingredients turned into a fatty dish." To keep up with her mantra of localization, Nicoisa will use organic when possible, as well as source from local farms to create distinct menu items. Prices will range from $9 to $16.
Biscayne Diner is just what Miami needs and has been desperately craving: a 24/7, partially organic, farm-to-table eatery where everybody knows your name.
"I don't want to call it Cheers, but it's almost like Cheers."
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha