A new restaurant from chef Michael Beltran that's been nearly three years in the making is gearing up to open its doors in Coconut Grove this fall.
Beltran and his Ariete Hospitality Group (AHG) business partner Andrew Falsetto own and operate several of South Florida's most popular restaurants, beginning with Michelin-starred Ariete, which opened in 2016 in Coconut Grove. Together, the pair have since opened a slew of concepts covering a range of cuisines, from bar-focused establishments like the Taurus, the ScapeGoat, and El Vecino to restaurants such as Chug's Cuban Diner, Brasserie Laurel, and the Gibson Room.
Beltran is preparing to launch his newest restaurant, Eva and the Oyster Bar, a two-in-one concept slated to open as early as late September. Housed on the bottom floor of the newly restored CocoWalk open-air plaza, Eva and the Oyster Bar will welcome guests in two phases, beginning with the Oyster Bar.
Located at the back of the Eva space, the intimate speakeasy bar will offer Beltran's take on a raw bar with cocktail-style seating and a menu offering a daily assortment of East and West Coast oysters, aguachile, ceviche, and seafood-focused small plates.
Although a menu hasn't been finalized, Beltran says his penchant for family recipes will make a mark at the Oyster Bar — this time inspired by his girlfriend's mother.
"She makes this clam dip I love. I've spent years hearing the history and legacy of this dish, so I've created my own version using the flavors of Peruvian cuisine," Beltran says.
In the weeks following the Oyster Bar's opening, Beltran aims to welcome diners to Eva, his first take at a Mediterranean-inspired menu created alongside AHG corporate chef Ashley Moncada. The restaurant's sprawling space will feature a dedicated main bar and indoor and outdoor seating.
Expect to find dishes that combine Beltran's creativity with classic Greek recipes, from starters like fries doused in a vinegar-based sauce and topped with crumbled feta cheese and banana peppers to orzo served with a dense tomato sauce punctuated by olives, feta, and braised short rib, or perfectly grilled fish finished with a light sauce.
With the launch of his 12th concept on the horizon, Beltran admits AHG's recently swift-growing portfolio was never part of his original vision.
"The only plan I ever had was to open Ariete and make it the best it could be," Beltran explains. "But I have a lot of ideas, and I'm motivated to take these restaurant concepts I've had in my brain for a long time and finally execute them. What got the ball rolling was Chug's. We took it from pop-up to restaurant, and I think it proved to people that we had the range to go beyond fine dining."
Today, Beltran estimates that his establishments offer more than 150 unique menu items across a wide range of cuisines — a testament to his motivation to create food that speaks to his creative inspiration.
"With Eva, we have this wonderful opportunity to show people we can cook a certain type of food we don't get to do a lot with our other restaurants — dishes that are light, clean, and fresh," he adds.
Most of all, Beltran is excited for Eva and the Oyster Bar to embody his childhood memories of Coconut Grove. The chef envisions a convivial atmosphere where people can stop as they walk past from midday to late night to enjoy an extensive cocktail program and raw bar at the Oyster Bar before moving on to a casual meal at Eva for lunch, happy hour, or dinner.
"I want a space where people feel comfortable to come and go in a casual manner, and that's a huge part of my focus and inspiration," Beltran says. "It's been a long time coming, and I'm excited to be nearing the finish line and finally see my vision come to life."
Eva and the Oyster Bar. 3015 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove; 305-573-0658; evacoconutgrove.com. Opening in fall 2023.