Side Dish

If you've been wondering where the next "Lincoln Road" is going to develop, get your minds off the beaches (South and North) and head to the shores. Miami Shores, that is. Zoning has been approved and renovations scheduled for NE Second Avenue, the center of the village. New construction will include sidewalks, lighting, and building façades, all designed to make outdoor dining agreeable to the populace. Don't hold your breath -- or your appetite -- though. Plans will not be put into motion until 2003.

•If you like your music, not to mention your seafood, with a Latin flair, head to "Fico" Key West Seafood. The eponymous seafoodery from West Flagler Street has opened a sister location on Washington Avenue in South Beach. Regulars swear Fico, which has been selling the South Florida catch since 1989, has the freshest stuff around. Now it also has the most rockin', since the South Beach location offers live music, ranging from merengue to salsa to American beats, along with a full fish menu.

•Speaking of Key West (sorta), the Conch Republic gets a new installation from Don Shula and family. Shula's on the Beach just opened in the Wyndham Reach Resort on Simonton Street. As in his other locations, former Dolphins coach Shula's menus are painted on footballs, and the eatery is filled with game-day memorabilia. Native Conchs might not be so into the pigskin thing, but you can bet the tourists will gather for the ocean views if nothing else.

•Long-time fans of Café Ragazzi on Harding Avenue in Surfside may have noticed the expansion of the business to across the street. Ragazza Market and Café recently opened catty-corner to Ragazzi. The good news is that Ragazza, an Italian-style deli, has about four tables inside so customers can eat their purchases on the premises. The bad news is that Ragazza closes at 7:00 p.m., just when Ragazzi starts to heat up, so it can't handle any overflow from the ever-popular restaurant.

•Now that's what I call useful information: If you have AT&T service on your cell phone, you might notice an unusual response when you call the directory for a restaurant's phone number -- the operator will offer to make your reservation for you. The idea is to cut back on the amount of calls people make when they're driving, thus reducing the number of cell-inspired fender-benders. Convenient enough to make you switch from one company to another? All I gotta say is MCI, BellSouth -- see ya, wouldn't want to be ya.

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Jen Karetnick is an award-winning dining critic, food-travel writer, and author of the books Ice Cube Tray Recipes, Mango, and The 500 Hidden Secrets of Miami.
Contact: Jen Karetnick

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