Created 15 years ago by gourmands from Peru and Costa Rica, El Gran Inka's only three US locations serve up a menu of fresh Peruvian fare featuring influences from Spain, Japan, and Italy. Since its inception, the restaurants have charmed diners across Central America and the United States with an impressive culinary and cultural celebration of Peru. The menu presents a contemporary twist on traditional cuisine, plating tangy ceviches, flavorful seafood stews, and tender cuts of sauce-draped meat on elegant plates. As guests sip cocktails made from exotic South American fruits and spirits or mingle over plates of succulent sea bass, the classy saxophone wails of jazz riffs and the ancient dead language of scat singing serenade audiences on Thursdays, Fridays, or Saturdays.
Yes Pasta! owner Flaminia Morin migrated from Rome to Miami with her prized collection of family recipes in tow. Stateside, she teamed up with chef Paolo del Papa to continue her family’s culinary traditions with the aid of fresh local and imported Italian ingredients. Seven kinds of pasta team up with 15 sauces and add-ons that seduce palates with flavors of wild mushrooms, fresh-crushed chili, and tart green capers. The menu’s aura of authenticity extends to the dining room, where cerulean-blue and white hues recall the airy Italian trattorias and olive-oil-gorged rain clouds of Rome.
A selection of toothsome tapas offers solid sustenance at Caffe Da Vinci’s bustling bar, complemented by an ample wine list and a bounty of liquor-infused refreshments. Coronate your visit with a crown of mozzarella cheese sticks ($6.50) and a scepter forged from the thinly sliced swordfish and Wagyu Kobe beef of the duetto di carpaccio (market price), or pad palates with doughy bruschetta al formaggio, crostini bread topped with melted parmesan cheese ($4.50). Skirt steak flanked by chimichurri sauce ($7) faces off against mozzarella caprese with cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and balsamic glaze ($7) in a miniature match of bite-size comestibles.
Since 1969, the cooks at Mario the Baker have followed the same tried-and-true recipes, resulting in pizza after fresh-baked pizza emerging from the oven with the same flavors as the restaurant's very first batch. Diners settle into red and black booths to split signature pizzas, including La Maflosa pizza with sliced eggplant and mozzarella. As part of an unrefusable offer, the Godfather pie comes topped with capicollo, ham, and salami and is served with a side of housemade italian dressing.
Spiced up by the saucy skills of chef Howie “Bulldog” Kleinberg, who was on Top Chef Miami, Bulldog Barbecue's menu features no-frills, North Carolina–style barbecue. Hearty options—such as the popular beef brisket ($18), shrimp and grits ($18), and baby back ribs ($15–$23), all of which come with Carolina slaw, cornbread, and your choice of side—satisfy stomachs with unmatched sass. Non-carnivores can focus on the selection of fresh salads or a smoked portobello burger with caramelized onions and balsamic mayo ($9). Unlike most restaurants 500 miles beneath the earth's surface, Bulldog Barbecue provides drink items, allowing guests to fight off dehydration with made-to-order lemonade ($2); a root-beer float ($4); or a choice of red wines, white wines, or bubblies.