Chefs

COVID Cookbook Shows How to Make Local Restaurant Favorites at Home

South Florida chef Ralph Pagano shares his recipe for Naked Taco's blackened fish taco recipe in Taste of Miami.
South Florida chef Ralph Pagano shares his recipe for Naked Taco's blackened fish taco recipe in Taste of Miami. Photo courtesy of Neuelane
click to enlarge South Florida chef Ralph Pagano shares his recipe for Naked Taco's blackened fish taco recipe in Taste of Miami. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NEUELANE
South Florida chef Ralph Pagano shares his recipe for Naked Taco's blackened fish taco recipe in Taste of Miami.
Photo courtesy of Neuelane
Ever wondered precisely what makes the Cap'n Crunch pancakes from Eating House so amazing, the green curried mussels at Phuc Yea so crave-worthy? Would you like to know how to recreate the classic burger from El Rey de las Fritas?

Taste of Miami, a new cookbook slated for publication this week, has those answers, and more.

Last July, local marketing agency Neuelane announced it would create a cookbook to support Miami restaurants and chefs affected by COVID-19 shutdowns. At the time, Michael Campos and Brandon Rodriguez, who founded the Miami-based company, envisioned Taste of Miami as a way to promote the city's favorite establishments and raise funds to aid the struggling industry.

Seven months later, Campos and Rodriguez's project is ready to share with curious foodies everywhere. Starting today, Tuesday, January 26, anyone can purchase a $24.99 digital version (or $34.99 hardcover copy) of the cookbook via the Taste of Miami website.


The 132-page cookbook offers 50 recipes for a variety of easy-to-prepare dishes from restaurants across Miami. Selections include signature dishes from Miami's most popular restaurants, but also secret recipes and specialty dishes you won't find on any Magic City menus, contributed by some of Miami favorite chefs.

The only requirement for inclusion in the book: Make it simple.

"We told chefs, 'Don't give us a complicated recipe — give us something people can actually make at home,'" Campos says.

Some examples: tried-and-true takes on ceviche, tacos, and — of course — the quintessential Miami snack, the croqueta.

"I feel like no cookbook is complete without a croqueta, and we have three," Campos tells New Times. "We have the chorizo croqueta from Doce Provision, the Reuben croquetas from Kush by Stephen's, and those crazy Sunday-brunch croquetas from Dos Croquetas — the same ones made during their master class at the 2020 South Beach Wine & Food Festival."

Meat lovers can find plenty to love, from Smokey Bones' big beef ribs recipe and Latin House Grill's "Madlove" rib eye to Sef "Burger Beast" Gonzalez's personal recipe for "Beast-Loaf."
click to enlarge The gnocchi al pesto from the Restaurant at W South Beach is one of 50 dishes featured in Taste of Miami. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NEUELANE
The gnocchi al pesto from the Restaurant at W South Beach is one of 50 dishes featured in Taste of Miami.
Photo courtesy of Neuelane
As for the promised secret recipes, the book contains three: from Coyo Taco, Miami Grill, and Arbetter's Hot Dogs.

"Arbetter's recipe is one of my favorites," Campos shares. "The cool thing about this dish is that you can't get it anywhere else — not even Arbetter's. And, no, it's not the famous Arbetter chili created by the owner's Italian mother, Flaminia Arbetter. She wouldn't give us that."

Instead, it's the matriarch's very own recipe for chicken cacciatore, which joins recipes that cover everything from appetizers and side dishes to main plates and desserts. Gabe Urrutia, author of Miami Cocktails, even shares his takes on several cocktails, including Miami favorites like margaritas, mojitos, and, naturally, the Miami Vice.

All proceeds will be donated to the participating restaurants and their employees. To maximize the amount, Neuelane, along with several sponsors, donated funds and/or services to help cover the cost of producing the book.

Campos and Neuelane also enlisted celebrity chef Jesus Diaz, better known as Chef Yisus from Univision's morning TV show Despierta América. Over the past several months, Diaz has tested every recipe and helped organize the book.

"Now all we need is for people to embrace this cookbook," Campos says. "I'm so glad to finally see this through. And now that it's done, we're able to help the restaurants that need it. It's been a tough time for everyone, and we are happy to do whatever we can to make a difference."

Taste of Miami. Neuelane. 2021. 132 pages. Hardcover $35; digital $25. Purchase via cookbook.miami.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna