The chefs at Calamari Restaurant strive to create familiar, comforting Italian foods with house-made ingredients and ocean-fresh fish. With an emphasis on seafood dishes, they grill salmon fillets and stuff lobster ravioli that the Miami New Times placed 50th on its list of 100 Favorite Dishes in 2010, calling it "the entrée that will keep you coming back for more." They also strive to recreate homemade flavors by creating their own Italian sausages and pasta, and roast pizzas in a wood-burning brick oven within sight of the dining room.
In addition to an indoor dining room, outdoor tables with checkered cloths surround a garden fountain, "evoking a seaside picnic," according to a 2009 review in the Miami Herald.
Small wrought-iron chandeliers, pendant lamps, and track fixtures bathe Focaccia Bistro's rustic-modern interior in an amber glow, illuminating towering wooden wine racks stuffed with European vintages. Though the white-clothed tables carry elegantly plated dishes of risotto, shellfish pasta, and handmade ravioli, the bistro's decor extends beyond Italy, enticing passersby with full-length front windows that evoke the aura of a 1930s-era café. French-influenced brunch consisting of croissants and baguettes further enhances the café vibe, as does the beret-sporting ghost that haunts the restrooms.
The only thing that's bad about ordering pizza is that no one can ever agree on toppings. At My Pi Custom Pizza, that's not an issue?each of the restaurant's gourmet pies is made from 9-inch slabs of dough, the perfect size for individual consumption. Customers can top their pizzas with custom fixings, including their choice of sauce and cheese, or opt for one of My Pi's signature creations, such as a Pi'Racha with spicy sriracha sauce, banana peppers, and jalape?os. The high-quality pies are matched by a hand-selected lineup of craft beers, a small selection that changes monthly but has included Terrapin's Hopsecutioner and Magic Hat #9.
Indecision is a virtue at CG Burgers. It gives diners more time to peruse the menu of build-your-own burgers and design a mental blueprint of the perfect meal. The patties of certified Angus beef, all-natural turkey, or bison begin as blank canvases before diners adorn them with as many as 17 complimentary toppings and condiments. The cooks can also load down burgers with 15 premium fixings, such as avocado or a tiny gold crown. Made using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, the menu of all-American classics also distinguishes itself by including a vegetarian burger patty, zucchini fries, and silken gelato milk shakes. Even the fire-roasted wings present a bit of a spin on the original: they may arrive in a traditional buffalo sauce or glazed with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, herbs, and crushed red peppers.
A great chef requires an equally exceptional oven. Spartico?s chef Dario Correa, a veteran of the Delano in Miami Beach, places his creations into an Ambrogi?a stone-faced, wood-burning oven imported from Milan?s expert kitchen craftsmen. Over the oven?s embers, pizza dough blended from seasonal wheat turns crisp beneath layers of artisanal toppings such as goat cheese, dry-cured ham, and organic tupelo honey.
In the dining room, local musicians belt out Sinatra-style tunes as patrons greet the fresh-baked pies or sink forks into Italian staples ranging from eggplant parmigiana topped with local mozzarella to gnocchi saut?ed with porcini, portabella, and button mushrooms. Guests can also stop by for breakfast; the morning menu includes the Spartico breakfast panini, filled with scrambled eggs, saut?ed pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes, and melted tomino cheese.
Founded in 1912, Gardner's Market brought fine foods, gourmet groceries, and the services of skilled chefs to the public for over a century. While the grocer's store recently changed ownership, the mission and much of the market's renowned staff has endured. Executive Pastry Chef Luis Dorado still creates the same sinfully delicious sweet treats that have graced the cases during his 19-year tenure, whipping up everything from flourless chocolate tortes to crème brûlée. Other culinary artists spend their days crafting hot carrot bisque, Maryland mini crab cakes, and tres leches cake, cooked fresh and packed to go. They also whip up hot lunches, which vary in price from day to day due to the incorporation of market-price seafood and garnishes of freshly minted dollar bills. In the meat department, the team serves up certified angus beef, hormone-free chicken, naturally-raised lamb, and more.