The culinary craftspeople at Java Factory populate a menu with breakfast eats, sandwiches, and build-your-own pizzas inside a café with tile floors and a long wooden coffee bar. Like a wake-up call with a stun gun, flavors from the espresso bar, including a white mocha ($3.50–$3.85) and Java Factory coffee blend ($1.45–$1.85), deliver a morning jolt, and smoothies ($5.50–$6.75) blend fruit and yogurt for hybrid frozen drinks that please palates at all hours of the day. For empty stomachs, smoked ham, egg, cheese, and peppers huddle inside a warm breakfast burrito ($4.75), and the mediterranean tuna panini ($7.75) infuses tuna salad with black olives and chives before topping the medley with a mediterranean spread. Build-your-own flatbread pizzas ($6.50) come with a choice of nine toppings, such as pepperoni, turkey, and olives. Tall chairs line a dark wood coffee bar where beans roast and baristas tell secrets via cryptic foam formations. Shorter seats rest below individual tables clothed in white linens and illuminated by candlelight not emitted by jack-o'-lanterns.
At La Palma, the air is full of so much romance that it seems possible to pluck the moon from the sky with your fork. This is doubly the case if you order the popular Meze Lune Ripiene di Zucca—a pasta dish of moon-shaped, pumpkin-stuffed tortellini glazed with a butter and sage sauce. Even if you don't, though, the restaurant's scenery is enough to make a date memorable: the historic building was designed as a hotel in 1924 by George Merrick, whose Mediterranean architecture dots much of Coral Gables. Inside, fine art curated by the owners draws the eye. Outside, trees swathed in lights and a burbling stone fountain evoke an Italian courtyard. And on Wednesdays through Saturdays, live music adds to the dreamy quality of the setting.
The Northern Italian food also transports diners to Europe. Homemade pastas mixed with seafood and meat sauce abound, including spaghetti with fresh clams and crab-filled ravioli. Entrees of braised veal shank, grilled tuna in a gorgonzola cheese sauce, and New Zealand rack of lamb make for satisfying dinners. There's also a prix fixe chef's special menu, which concludes with a homemade treat you get to choose from a dessert trolley, as long as you don't hop on and demand to be taken to Candyland post haste.
Transcending borders is something of a habit at Francesco. The restaurant boasts four international locations, which include the original locations in Peru as well as restaurants in Argentina and the United States. And the menu transcends culinary borders, routinely featuring Old-World as well as New-World influences. Though the chefs occasionally incorporate Italian flavors and recipes into their dishes, it is their steadfast commitment to South American cuisine that makes Francesco "a terrific ambassador for the food—and warm hospitality—of Peru," according to the Sun Sentinel. Time Out Miami says, "you can't go wrong with the ceviche," and the menu includes numerous variations of this iconic and refreshing dish. Zesty servings of fish, scallops, octopus, shrimp, calamari, and mussels can arrive in mild or spicy sauces, swarming palates with bright, fresh flavors. As evidenced by the ample ceviche selection, seafood is the star of the menu. Sea scallops and Peruvian artichokes put a South American twist on plates of risotto, and grilled swordfish arrives topped with a Peruvian-style chimichurri sauce. With its neutral earth tones, stucco walls, and brightly colored abstract paintings, Francesco's dining area seems to evoke the same casual spirit as its menu. White linens adorn each of the tables, and the padded seats seem to invite diners to linger for a while and savor their meals.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, The Globe's CubaLibre Block Party electrifies the streets with Cuban flair as attendees savor creative cocktails, exotic street food, hand-rolled cigars, and plenty of dancing. From the main stage of the festival, Cuban-born, Miami-raised trio Los 3 de la Habana headlines, playing music for the crowds. The band plays rousing tunes such as the sweeping power ballad “Donde esta el Amor” and the thumping “No te pases de la Raya.” Edwin Bonilla y Su Son will also perform to create more traditional, though no less danceable, melodies. Elsewhere, partiers can take in a salsa lesson and demo, or watch a special tribute to Cuban piano legend Bebo Valdes.
The menu at Il Corso Trattoria overflows with traditional Italian dishes, displaying examples of lasagna, filet mignon, tilapia, paninis, and brick-oven pizzas. Inside the Old World–style eatery, exposed brick columns stand tall as diners feast on chefs' gourmet handiwork and sample wines that flow straight into the restaurant via transoceanic aqueducts.
Chef Willy Hernandez is an international man through and through—and the evidence can be tasted at Zielo Restaurant. His Dominican Republic heritage presents itself in the Caribbean-steeped trio ceviche, with shrimp, whitefish, and coconut-ginger tuna, or the ahi tuna tartare, served over a plantain nest. But influences from Asia, Italy, and France weave their way into the dinner entrees, resulting in such dishes as truffle-infused risotto. And the time Chef Hernandez spent in New York while training in the William's Culinary Institute also gets some face time with the cowboy ribeye and rack of lamb dressed in mustard sauce.
Guests pair this culinary voyage with sips of wines curated by general manager Ervin Machado, a sommelier and wine judge. The deep red of a Louis Martini cabernet sauvignon or Charles Krug pinot noir pops amid the predominantly ivory color scheme, joining the russet tones of the leather-bound volumes upon backlit bookshelves. Calculated swathes of cobalt add another dimension throughout the restaurant, resurfacing on water glasses, lampshades, the front of the bar, and the faces of those competing in breath-holding competitions.