First Bites

Tom Colicchio's Beachcraft: Clam and Porchetta Flatbread, Sea Urchin Bucatini, and Pastelitos (Photos)

What chef has five James Beard Awards, hosts two television shows, and oversees an empire of restaurants, including one that recently began dishing out dinner in Miami Beach?

If you're scratching your head, turn on Bravo and the answer might just be staring at you. The much-anticipated Beachcraft at the 1 Hotel & Homes marks Top Chef judge and host Tom Colicchio's first Miami foray. It's a seaside extension of his signature farm-to-table venture Craft, which opened in New York in 2001 and earned three stars from the New York Times and a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. Beachcraft preserves Colicchio's seasonal sensibility and commitment to culinary artistry with locally caught fish, vibrant produce, antibiotic free and responsibly raised meats, and handmade pastas.

Executive chef and Miami native Michael Fiorello runs the open kitchen. Prior to joining Colicchio's restaurant kingdom, Fiorello was director of culinary operations for Iron Chef and James Beard winner Jose Garces. 

Staying in line with 1 Hotel & Homes sustainable look and feel, Beachcraft's design is the work of Meyer Davis studio (responsible for other stunners like Corsair, Lure, and the Dutch). Think modern beach house meets Texas ranch with tons of the natural elements in the hotel – rock walls, shrubs for both décor and cocktail use, and wine boxes repurposed into paper napkin holders and other utilities. Inviting leather booths have been created from leather and an outdoor herb garden highlights the restaurant's farm-to-table philosophy. They grow everything from lemongrass to citrus trees, cocoa trees, and dark opal basil. The menu will change seasonally, but don't be surprised to finds novel dishes. "We're changing every single night," says food and beverage director Kevin D'Antonio. "Keeping some of our core standbys but always introducing new items according to whatever is available."

A handful of handcrafted cocktails are proffered including the Euro-trip with gin, Montenegro, St. Germain, and lemon. Or try the Bourbon in the Sand with bourbon, cherry heering, orange juice, and hibiscus-dandelion root syrup. We can alo vouch for the from Russia With Spice, Beachcraft's take on a mule with jalapeño. Drink up the Kiss My Burro, which mixes silver tequila, basil, lemon, and honey-orange shrub syrup. All cocktails but one are $14.

The menu consists of raw bar, snacks, sides, and dinner items.
You can go the oyster, clam, wild Gulf shrimp, or Maine lobster route. Or you can indulge in these beautifully prepared razor clams ($18) that have been sliced shucked and chopped to resemble garlic and are dressed with extra virgin olive oil and parsley.

Yellowfin tuna crudo with fennel , serrano peppers and salad burnet ($18) tastes like the ocean.  

One of the best diver scallops I've ever had came from Craft in New York City ten years ago (yes, I still remember them). And though these are live scallops in the form of a ceviche with gooseberries, sumac, and pink peppercorns ($20), they'll have you thinking about them long after your meal too.

Brandade (an emulsion of cod and olive oil) croquettes ($11) are balls of fried seafood heaven. 

Do yourself a solid and order the chicken liver mousse topped with dehydrated crispy chicken skin and served with toasted Zak the Baker bread ($12). 

Beets "Corvelli" ($14), named after Colicchio's grandfather and a dish he would have every Christmas as a child, holds a special place in his heart. Blanched baby beets are tossed with braised artichokes, chopped cured olives, pickled cherry peppers, picked tarragon, and parsley-anchovy vinaigrette. Manager Alex Laos tells is this is the first time Colicchio has put the nostalgic dish on his menu, making it quite special. "He really is the most humble guy you'll ever meet. Whenever we call him chef, he corrects us," says Laos. "'Tom,' he says. 'Call me Tom.'"
"We take special pride in our house-made flatbreads and pastas" says floor manager Rafaela Dulanto (the service game is strong here). Indeed, the manila clam flatbread with pancetta and oregano will be your newest obsession ($19). 

Bucatini with generous amounts of peekytoe crab and finished with sea urchin, scallion, and just the right amount of jalapeno ($27) is something to be very proud of. (Photo shows half portion serving.) 

Just look at the color of these Reister farms lamb chops with Harissa yogurt and eggplant caponata ($32). 

Colicchio wanted to do something representative of Miami. What's more representative than pastelitos? These guava and cheese sweets with dulce de leche ($7) give most Cuban bakeries a run for their money. Unfortunately, like dinner, they too are a rotating menu item to keep the dessert offerings always fresh and try new options. 

Coconut milk panna cotta ($10) topped with diced mango, papaya and pineapple include dots of papaya sauce and lime meringue crisps. This dish tastes as good as it looks off. 

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Carla Torres found her inner gourmand voice while writing for Miami New Times in 2012. She has also worked with Travel & Leisure and Ocean Drive and today is involved with a tech startup. She balances passions for wine, sweets, yoga, and kayaking.