It's typical for Miami restaurants to be delayed in their opening, especially when said restaurant is an oyster bar that has traps as light fixtures and empty oyster shells affixed to the walls. The restaurant at hand is Midtown Oyster Bar and it was supposed to debut in October, but doors remained shut till a few weeks ago when it opened just in time for Basel.
Brought to the Midtown complex by the Graspa Group, MOB (has a nice ring to it, eh?) is just doors down from the group's beloved Italian concept, Salumeria 104. Before making his way down to the Magic City, Salumeria 104 chef and co-owner Angelo Masarin lived in New England and took a few notes from their seafood and oyster culture, which he's now recreating at MOB by way of clam "chowda" and fish and chips.
See also: Midtown Oyster Bar to Open This Month
Striped banquettes and cream chairs with light wooden tables give MOB a beachy yet rustic feel. Industrial ceilings and a few high tops keep it from going overboard on fancy and bring it right back to Midtown. Walking by you might catch wind of the oyster shucker through the glass. If that's not enough to invite you inside, the tons of seafood options on the menu might help.
Masarin's menu is a culmination of New England favorites fused with Italian influence. Fish and stone crabs are sourced locally while oysters are brought in daily from the Northeast.
Definitely start with some bivalves. MOB is shooting to have a rotating selection of eight or more on the regular. Each oyster will set you back $3. MOB's menu even has fun oyster facts, like "Did you know that only about 1 in 10,000 oysters contain a pearl? We'd better get shucking!"
Starters include little neck clams, crab cakes, beer batter radicchio, and PEI mussels ($12). The latter are awash in a Wynwood Brewing sauce with chunks of chorizo and slivers of shallots. Once done with the mussels, you'll want to use a shell to spoon the remaining sauce, or, even better, bread. It's that good.
You'll also want to try some non-raw oysters. Choose from fried, crispy sliders, or rockafella, which are baked with spinach, Vermont goat cheese, and bacon ($16). Should you want champagne wishes and caviar dreams, there's a section on the menu just for you.
One of the dinner's highlights was the smoked Key Largo amberjack pate with cranberry jelly and crostini ($14). Smooth and airy yet dense and flavorful, it's a complex but straightforward dish.
Scallop ceviche comes in its proper shell with cilantro, mango, avocado, and chilli ($14). I'm usually not a fan on uncooked scallop but this one was done right.
The only miss of the evening was the scampi and calvisius caviar crudo ($19) with carrot and fennel, which is a shame because it sounded so interesting on paper. It lacked salt, acidity, and overall flavor, but Masarin asked for feedback and when we let him know he said he'd be sure to work on that, so it deserves a second try.
There's a new contender for the best mac and lobster in town ($14) and you can find it at MOB.
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Tons of options from the sea grace the menu. Take your pick between whole branzino, yellowtail snapper, pan-seared diver scallops, sipcy lobster ciopinno, or shrimp-stuffed monkfish. We couldn't resist the urge for the Maine lobster roll ($24), so we opted for that. It's customer's choice of temperature -- either warm or cold.
Key lime pie with toasted meringue ($8).
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha