Taperia Raca Opens Friday: Giorgio Rapicavoli Tells Us What to Expect

Taperia Raca opens this Friday, bringing chef Giorgio Rapicavoli's spin on Spanish small plates to MiMo.

The restaurant, the second endeavor from Rapicavoli and business partner Alex Casanova, will seat only 16 people inside, but an outdoor garden will serve 40 guests. Rapicavoli will split his time between Eating House in Coral Gables and this new spot, aided by chef de cuisine Ryan Harrison, previously of Preservation in Sunny Isles. Adriana Egozcue, already in charge of lunch service, will take over as chef de cuisine at Eating House.

We asked Giorgio Rapicavoli the impetus behind the new concept and what diners can expect from it.

See also: Giorgio Rapicavoli to Open Taperia Raca in MiMo

New Times: Why did you go with a tapas restaurant for your next endeavor over a second Eating House location?

Giorgio Rapicavoli: I think it was a matter of challenging ourselves. I don't think you become a restaurateur until you tackle several different themes. Danny Meyer, for instance, has successful restaurants that range from burgers to fine dining. I think as long as the brand I'm creating focuses on young, chef-driven food with a relaxed atmosphere, the food could be anything from tomatoes with coconut to tortillas.

At Eating House, you're very creative with your food. How literal are you going with Spanish tapas -- or will you put your own spin on it?

The tapas will be traditional with a different approach. For instance, in our tortilla española, we're frying the potatoes and onions so the flavors are more intense, but we're sticking to the basics. You're not going to have a deconstructed tortilla, but everything has a tiny twist, but we're keeping it traditional.

Why did you choose a tapas restaurant for this space?

A lot of it has to do with the fact that we didn't build this restaurant from scratch, so we have a tiny, tiny kitchen. There's one fryer and a little grill, so we needed to have a concept that worked. We also wanted to provide something to the neighborhood that hasn't been done. I can't think of any Spanish place in the area. There are tapas places in Miami, but they don't have a vibe that makes you want to be there. You go to Mandolin, for example, and it just has an incredible feeling. That's something important -- to have a beautiful atmosphere.

How will you be dividing your time between Eating House and Taperia Raca?

Of course there will be hiccups and challenges, but Alex and I are so happy that we have two great chefs working with us who really represent the brand and approach flavors the way we do. Adriana [Egozcue] will cover Eating House, and Ryan [Harrison] will be at Taperia Raca. I'll still spend the majority of my time at Eating House, and Alex lives close to Taperia Raca, so he'll be there a lot. Taperia Raca, unlike Eating House, has a set menu, and Ryan will add three or four dishes a day to complement that. He's supertalented and superdedicated.

Last year, you mentioned you wanted to open a doughnut shop. Still in the works?

I still want to open a doughnut shop, and when the time comes, we'll make it happen. I want to do something like that.

And Drinking Room? Any chance we'll see that as a permanent bar?

Absolutely. We really want to open up Drinking Room as a permanent fixture, without a doubt. That's the next phase. If it were up to me, we'd have a barbecue place, an Italian place... That's why I really admire Andreas Schreiner, Jose Mendin, and Sergio Navarro [of the Pubbelly Restaurant Group] and respect them so much. A lot of times you think about Pubbelly and Eating House. It's awesome to see them working on so many different concepts.

What do you recommend patrons try at Taperia Raca? What's your favorite?

We're in the middle of trying everything now, but there's this really nice chicken liver pâté with sherry and almonds that's just killer. And you know patatas bravas, right? We'll have patatas contenta, which means "happy potatoes." They'll be covered with the carbonara sauce from Eating House. There's always a connection.

Taperia Raca will be open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday for brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

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