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.
Part seafood grill, part fish market, Don Camaron Seafood Grill Restaurant is completely dedicated to fresh fish. At the market, the knowledgeable staff assists guests with selections of domestic fish and crustaceans such as grouper, red snapper, and, when in season, Florida lobster and stone crabs. Likewise, the grill's chefs prepare a wide range of seafood-oriented dishes, ranging from shrimp alfredo to ceviche to salmon. For its presence at the Miami Marlins' stadium, Don Camaron's fruit of the sea has even been spotlighted by Forbes, the first fish to be lauded by the financial magazine since Jaws made $470 million at the box office.
Though it's one of the more popular menu items at Catch of the Day, the only constant on the Catch's fish sandwich is a layer of grilled onions. Otherwise, its contents shift based on the kitchen's supply of fresh fish and the guest's preparation preference: grilled, blackened, or fried. This unpredictable dish sits beside shrimp wraps and Black Angus burgers on the seafood restaurant's expansive menu. The pages also gather shellfish, fillets, pastas, steaks, and housemade soups along with internationally inspired dishes such as paella and ceviche.
At both locations, Catch of the Day's atmosphere matches its oceanic eats. Nautical decor spread throughout the space includes underwater murals, hanging lifesavers, Captain Nemo, and suspended models of swimming fish. Happy hour unleashes a slew of specials at the bar, and live entertainment frequently sets meals against a musical backdrop.
Tutto's Mare chef Juca Oliveira draws on his own life experiences to craft his menu of international fusion cuisine. Inspired by his childhood in Brazil, he crafts escondidinho de camarão—shrimp creole layered with yucca mash and baked in a wood-burning oven. Drawing on his Italian culinary training, he simmers classic pastas such as al dente black linguine and gnocchi with wine-mushroom sauce. From the cosmopolitan culture of Miami—his home for more than 20 years—he borrows still more eclectic tastes, from Japanese miso to Peruvian spices. He also gathers seafood, fresh fish, and Cordon Bleu–trained mermaid sous chefs fresh from the ocean.
A thick white column supports the high ceiling of Tutto Mare's bright and airy dining room, filled with sleek black tables or cream-colored banquettes. Patrons may also opt to sit at additional outdoor tables or stay inside to pluck utensils from the food-themed graphic art on the walls.
Sushi Leno’s chefs merge Japanese and Chilean dishes to satisfy cravings for empanadas and sashimi in one stop. After visitors enter the 75-seat restaurant and take a peek behind the sushi bar, the diverse menu diverts their attention to pasta dishes and Chilean-inspired sandwiches such as the chacarero, with steak, steamed green beans, and an avocado spread. With dishes that cater to a wide range of tastes, Sushi Leno can whip up a memorable meal after a long day of disposing grass clippings down a neighbor’s chimney.
Though Benny Ojeda's kitchen is packed with a mélange of frying pans, butcher knives, pots, and spatulas, his most treasured tool might be his giant wooden mortar and pestle. It's this massive contraption that the skilled chef uses to make his renowned mofongo dish, a deliciously chewy concoction that was lauded by reporters from Miami New Times and featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives as well as The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Benny fills the tall mortar with fried plantains, garlic, olive oil, and housemade pork rinds, and then pounds the mixture into a fluffy pulp. He scoops his mofongos into wooden bowls, sending them out of the kitchen plain or topped with buttery lobster, crispy chicken, and juicy steak.
Diners eagerly await mofongos out in the colorful dining room, where water trickles down from an elegant stone fountain and walls are painted to resemble a rustic Puerto Rican village or a convincingly disguised space ship. Some sip on imported beers and fresh fruit juices, and others sample traditional dishes from Benny's native Cabo Rojo—dishes such as stewed pork belly, rice with pigeon peas, and seafood ceviche. Before meals are through, waiters offer guests a tiny cup of complimentary coquito, a creamy blend of coconut, rum, and cinnamon.