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Culinary Crystal Ball Gazing: Predictions for Miami's First Michelin Guide

A plate of pasta at Macchialina in Miami Beach
A plate of pasta at Macchialina in Miami Beach Photo by Liz Clayman
On Thursday, June 9, the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando will host the official announcement of which restaurants will be included in the first Michelin Guide in Florida.

Michelin, in partnership with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Orlando, and Visit Tampa Bay, will release the Guide, which will cover the cities of Miami, Orlando, and Tampa.

In the United States, only New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and California have their own Michelin Guide. Each is arranged according to a rating scale of one to three stars. According to Michelin, "A Michelin Star is awarded for outstanding cooking. We take into account the quality of the ingredients, the harmony of flavours, the mastery of techniques, the personality of the chef as expressed in their cuisine and, just as importantly, consistency both over time and across the entire menu."

According to the guide, ambiance, décor, and service play no part in the selection process, which is undertaken exclusively by full-time employees of Michelin.

In addition to its star system, Michelin's "Bib Gourmand" category lists restaurants that serve outstanding food at a good value — generally, places where you can get a two-course dinner and wine or dessert for under $40. This is where most restaurants in the Florida Guide are likely to fall. A third category, "Plate," serves as a catchall, akin to an honorable mention.

The culinary world in Miami (as I'm sure Tampa and Orlando) is abuzz with speculation as to who will be included in the guide, with chefs and restaurateurs calling around to see who received a coveted invite to the festivities at the Ritz-Carlton. 

Miami is still a relatively young food city, so it's possible the first Michelin Guide will lack "star" power, as it were. Still, for a guide to be published puts Miami, Tampa, and Orlando on the culinary map — and that's a good position to be in.

With that in mind, here, in alphabetical order, is a list of ten restaurants likely to be included in the first Miami Michelin Guide.
click to enlarge The bar at Ariete - PHOTO BY CHARLIE GARCIA
The bar at Ariete
Photo by Charlie Garcia

Ariete

3540 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove
786-615-3747
arietecoconutgrove.com
Chef Michael Beltran has merged his formal culinary training with his Cuban-American roots to create a menu at his Coconut Grove restaurant that is truly unique to Miami. Michelin looks for restaurants where the chef has stamped his mark, and Beltran has done just that. Examples include a foie gras and plantain dish, a pastramied Wagyu short rib, and a loamy flan.
click to enlarge Calamari and shrimp scampi at Carbone - PHOTOS COURTESY OF CARBONE
Calamari and shrimp scampi at Carbone
Photos courtesy of Carbone

Carbone

49 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
carbonemiami.com
Chef Mario Carbone set out to save the classic red sauce Italian restaurant from extinction with his eponymous Carbone. In doing so,  he created a restaurant that's also a viral social media sensation. The question on the table is whether the food is worth the hype. The answer is a resounding yes. Carbone hits all the right flavor notes, making this a rare restaurant that embraces both the past and the future of dining.
click to enlarge Colorful dishes at Ghee - PHOTO COURTESY OF GHEE
Colorful dishes at Ghee
Photo courtesy of Ghee

Ghee Indian Kitchen

8965 SW 72nd Pl., Miami
305-968-1850
gheemiami.com
Niven Patel has worked in some of Miami's finest dining rooms. With Ghee, he and his wife Shivani have brought the flavors of India to life with local ingredients grown straight from their Homestead farm, Rancho Patel. Though Patel has since opened some other excellent establishments, Ghee is the one that's most straightforward about food, telling the story of the Patels with every bite.
click to enlarge Fresh seafood at Itamae - PHOTO BY ANDREA LORENA
Fresh seafood at Itamae
Photo by Andrea Lorena

Itamae

140 NE 39th St., Miami
Itamae.com
Another family-focused restaurant. Fernando Chang and his children, Nando and Valerie Chang, turn out some of Miami's best ceviche and tiraditos from this tiny Design District Nikkei restaurant that offers outdoor seating only. The Chang family first entranced Miamians with their culinary skills at Itame at MIA Market, before moving across the way to their own dedicated space. There, they serve a precise menu of ceviche, tiraditos, and nigiri. The menu changes often — reflecting the drive to only serve the freshest seafood. Whatever is in style that day will be fresh and bursting with bright citrus, maybe a touch of heat, and a lot of precision.
click to enlarge Dining at Joe's - PHOTO COURTESY JOE'S STONE CRAB
Dining at Joe's
Photo courtesy Joe's Stone Crab

Joe's Stone Crab

11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
305-673-0365
joesstonecrab.com
How on earth can you not pay homage to a city's most iconic restaurant? For over 100 years, Joe's Stone Crab has served celebrities, Presidents, and locals who come for its stone crabs and famous mustard sauce. Many forget, however, that under the care of chef Andre Bienvenu, Joe's also offers a full menu of classic dishes ranging from a filet mignon to some of the best fried chicken around. 
click to enlarge Ravioli at Macchialina - COURTESY OF MACCHIALINA
Ravioli at Macchialina
Courtesy of Macchialina

Macchialina

820 Alton Rd., Miami Beach
305-534-2124
macchialina.com
At the end of the day, after all the literal smoke from molecular gastronomy clears, you simply want a great plate of pasta and a glass of fine wine — and that's exactly what Macchialina delivers. Chef Michael Pirolo's no-nonsense approach to food is simple: use quality ingredients and freshly made pasta. The menu is brief - maybe a half dozen pastas, a branzino, veal parmigiana, a half roasted chicken — but it's all the food you actually want to eat so you'll still stare at the menu for far too long, deciding between the lasagna and the cavetelli. The only thing to do? Come back often.
click to enlarge The new dining room at Michael's Genuine - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GENUINE HOSPITALITY GROUP
The new dining room at Michael's Genuine
Photo courtesy of the Genuine Hospitality Group

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

130 NE 40th St., Miami
305-676-0894
michaelsgenuine.com
Not too long ago, Miami dining consisted of chain restaurants and hotel dining. Michael Schwartz is one of the chefs to break that mold with his Design District restaurant, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. The restaurant, which has just been refreshed with an extended outdoor seating area, continues to make top-notch food that allows the quality ingredients, carefully sourced, to shine.
Abalone at Naoe - PHOTO BY T.TSENG/FLICKR
Abalone at Naoe
Photo by T.Tseng/Flickr

Naoe

661 Brickell Key Dr., Miami
305-947-6263
naoemiami.com
Winner of the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award, Naoe is an exquisite restaurant tucked away on Brickell Key. Each evening, at 5 and 9 p.m. chef Kevin Cory serves his omakase dinner for an intimate gathering of four people. The $280 per person meal takes two to three hours and comes with a laundry list of restrictions (no children, no substitutions, and food allergies be damned). But those few who allow themselves to be placed in the hands of the chef will experience as close to culinary nirvana as can be achieved in Miami.
click to enlarge A colorful dish at Stubborn Seed - PHOTO COURTESY OF STUBBORN SEED
A colorful dish at Stubborn Seed
Photo courtesy of Stubborn Seed

Stubborn Seed

101 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
786-322-5211
stubbornseed.com
Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford's Stubborn Seed takes diners on a culinary journey that's rare in Miami. Ford, who worked at restaurants like L'Orangerie in Paris and Jean-George Vongerichten's Matador Room, has taken his classical training and, at Stubborn Seed, created the culinary equivalent of a Jazz concert. Though there is a weeknight a la carte menu, opt for Ford's eight-course tasting menu ($150) to really benefit from the chef's talents.
click to enlarge Classic lobster roll at the Surf Club - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SURF CLUB
Classic lobster roll at the Surf Club
Photo courtesy of the Surf Club

The Surf Club Restaurant

9011 Collins Ave., Surfside
305-768-9440
surfclubrestaurant.com
Thomas Keller's Surf Club Restaurant is a masterpiece. Elegant, resplendent, and stylish without ever being stuffy, Keller's dishes are simply perfection. The chef manages to take old classics like lobster thermidor, beef Wellington, and Cesar salad and make them exciting again. At the Surf Club, you'll remember why these dishes were so loved in their heyday. The Surf Club Restaurant is truly the finest representation of white-tablecloth dining in Miami.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss