Bravo's new culinary competition series, Best New Restaurant, finally has a premiere date. Fans of Miami's restaurant scene should block out a few months of Wednesdays, because five of our favorite new establishments are featured on the show, which will air Wednesdays at 10 p.m., beginning January 21.
The show's format takes host, judge, and executive producer Tom Colicchio on a journey across America in search of the best new restaurant in the United States. Based on the UK series Ramsay's Best Restaurant, the show also features Maggie Nemser (BlackboardEats) and Jeffrey Zurofsky (Colicchio's partner and cofounder of 'Wichcraft) joining Colicchio to evaluate 16 restaurants from four cities: New York, Los Angeles, Austin, and Miami. The fact that Miami is in the running with these other cities means we've got major clout. (And the fact that Colicchio is opening a restaurant here probably helps too.)
Unlike a Top Chef-style competition, the chefs do not compete in Quickfires, nor are they asked to cook with mystery ingredients. According to a Bravo rep, the show is about the restaurateurs' talents and merits, with food, decor, hospitality, and overall concept being scored in the mix.
The majority of the series takes place on location in the actual restaurants, with the chefs being judged on how they react in certain situations. For instance, in the first episode, the restaurants are subjected to a "pressure test" where "30 hungry diners descend on the restaurants without notice to see how the businesses handle the stress of a packed house." Then, undercover diners, wearing hidden cameras, go into the restaurant to see what happens when the TV cameras aren't around.
Finally, the remaining restaurant will be named best new restaurant and will win an editorial feature in Bon Appétit; a featured spot at America's number one global food festival, Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appétit 2015; and $100,000. Will a Miami restaurant take home the big prize? All of our restaurateurs are on high alert to remain mum on how they fared in the competition. And, as our Bravo rep said, "What would be the fun in knowing who won?"
In the immortal words of Bravo's Andy Cohen, we'll just have to watch what happens.
Here are the competing Miami restaurants, along with Bravo's description of each, along with a teaser for the show.
Buns & Buns
Buns & Buns is reinventing the wheel when it comes to the dining experience. The goal is to use fine-dining techniques and high-end ingredients to serve guests quickly in a warm and casual setting. Believing the traditional concept of "service" in a restaurant can be a burden to a great experience, they have created a hybrid with guests ordering at the register and servers taking over once the diners sit down. With a lot of craft, love, efficiency, and passion in the kitchen, Buns & Buns has discovered the formula to make fine food accessible to everybody. When Chef Reuven Sugarman joined the team, he and the owners set out on a trip around the world, discovering fine food and fine breads in cities such as London, Vienna, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Paris, and Istanbul. At the end of each night, Reuven would sketch, cook, and plan based on whatever they ate that day to create the concept for Buns & Buns. The staff jokingly refers to the restaurant as "gourmet fast food," but the chefs working in the open kitchen are doing anything but traditional fast food.
Located on the iconic Collins Avenue in the heart of South Beach, LDV Hospitality's Dolce Italian is Miami's newest dining destination at The Gale Hotel. Dolce is classic and elegant while also having whimsical, communal sensibility in the Italian beach club world. The restaurant's goal is to serve a truly authentic Italian menu, which starts with Italian chefs Paolo Dorigato and Loris Navone. Dolce's menu features dishes ranging from homemade pasta to Italian-style steaks and fish dishes. Award-winning pizza chef Renato Viola mans the pizza kitchen with a unique display of pizza-throwing. The dining room, run by veteran Director of Hospitality Dean Tsakanikas, features an elegant and comfortable atmosphere. Guests feel at home whether they are having a business lunch or just need a quick bite after a day at the beach. Dolce caters to any guest by way of food, service, and hospitality, and South Beach tourists and locals alike are loving the Dolce experience.
This modern American tavern draws inspiration from the regional Americas, classic Americana preparations, and is a celebration of the country's integrity, ingenuity, and craftsmanship. Owners Ani Meinhold and Cesar Zapata seek to serve the neighborhood as a meeting point where people can congregate and enjoy their favorite comfort food with a modern twist. Examples of their updated classics include their signature Pig Wing and a homemade duck rillette called Jar O' Duck. With Ani at the front of the house and Cesar running the kitchen, the small and tight-knit staff treats one another like family. Though located off the beaten path in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami, word has spread about The Federal and the crowds have been flocking.
Located in the up-and-coming Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, R House is where food, art, and music collide to form a unique dining experience. Named for Chef/Owner Rocco Carulli, this establishment is part restaurant, part art gallery featuring local Miami artists, and part dance club. Rocco is the face of R House, having created the menu and hired his team of chefs, and his husband Owen runs the dining room floor. The modern American menu is globally inspired with signature dishes like duck confit spring rolls and Brazilian moqueqa. Rocco made a name for himself as a chef for years in Provincetown, Massachusetts on the shores of Cape Cod, but with his move to Miami, his culinary vision has been resurrected and now perfected. This restaurant is his dream, and now he can share it with the rest of the Miami culinary scene.
Tongue & Cheek
Tongue & Cheek is a restaurant that pairs sophistication with whimsical humor. Presenting innovative, honest cuisine in a relaxed and modern surrounding, Tongue & Cheek is a place where locals and tourists alike can enjoy good food, good friends, and good conversation, all in the heart of South Beach. Since opening in April 2013, this contemporary American eatery has served a creative, ingredient-driven menu with artful presentations. Executive Chef/Owner Jamie DeRosa serves up unique food like pig ear lettuce wraps, playful crispy chicken chicharrones, and seasonal carbonated oysters and is garnering National acclaim for his beef cheek burger. Jamie made a career for himself working for numerous celebrity chefs like Geoffrey Zakarian and Wolfgang Puck, but he now has a place he can call his own.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.