The Pubbelly Boys, as Jose Mendin puts it, are growing up.
With that maturity comes a new restaurant, as well as a new name for the partners' business: Food Comma Hospitality Group.
The group — consisting of Mendin, Sergio Navarro, Juan F. Ayora, and Maximiliano Silva — this November will open Habitat, taking over the space formerly occupied by Tom Colicchio's Beachcraft at the 1 Hotel South Beach. The 170-seat restaurant will be given a new color scheme and furnishings, but kitchen features — such as the massive grill that will be used to turn out whole fish, birds, and cuts of meat — will remain.
Also interesting is the introduction of a "salad sommelier." A wooden cart filled with fresh greens and vegetables will make the rounds in the dining room. With assistance from servers, guests can create a custom salad from the produce. An extensive raw menu will complement the grilled items. Though the menu and prices aren't set yet, Ayora says dinner with wine won't break the bank.
The kitchen will be helmed by Spanish chef Angel Palacios, who will take on the title of chef de cuisine. Palacios and partner Navarro started a friendship more than a decade ago when Navarro interned at the two-Michelin-starred La Broche in Madrid. In 2002, the friends brought La Broche to Miami, where various New Times food writers debated over the restaurant's merits. The outpost has since closed, but Palacios has visited Miami to collaborate on dinners with his friends from the United States.
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Spanish pastry chef Patricio Larrera has also been tapped for the project, as has Mexican bartender Pedro Sanchez, who will head the restaurant's bar program.
The restaurant partners are planning a collaborative series where some of the world's most renowned chefs will host dinners. The meal series will premiere in time for Art Basel. Even more interesting is that each guest chef will also host a tapas and cocktail soiree at an affordable price point, allowing Miami foodies on a budget access to these famous toques.
Though Habitat sounds interesting, the only lingering doubt is whether Miami can ever stop saying "Pubbelly Boys" and instead refer to this talented restaurant team as the "Food Comma Men."
Habitat. 2395 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; thepubbellygroup.com. Opening November 2017.