Chef Scott Fredel claims that his "true love is the ocean." It was this love that led him to work as a commercial fisherman while still in high school and eventually inspired him to compete in fishing tournaments across Florida. Running the kitchen at Pilar Restaurant & Full Bar, the Miami native combines his passion for seafood with the techniques he learned while attending the Culinary Institute of America. Fredel demonstrates his respect for both influences through simply prepared entrées that flaunt their ocean-fresh flavors while occasionally incorporating elegant Italian and Asian touches. Filets of salmon and yellow-fin tuna can arrive grilled and glazed with pomegranate molasses or shiitake-mushroom vinaigrette (respectively), but not before starters such as flash-fried calamari lay a proper foundation. The menus also feature pan-roasted servings of free-range chicken as well as paella with more seafood than the national aquarium of Atlantis. Capable of seating up to 90 guests, the dining room boasts a relaxed charm that led Hello Miami to call it "the 'Cheers' of North Miami." Recessed ceiling lights illuminate the rich wooden floors and artwork-lined walls while potted dragon plants add a verdant splash of color and an endless backup supply of leafy napkins.
Fresh seafood and 100 feet of sweeping ocean-side views greet visitors to Joseph’s On The Water. Diners can tie their sea vessels up at the restaurant's attached dock, bidding their shirtless, shoeless dolphin friends adieu before checking out a sweeping menu of sea-culled delights. Premeal nosh such as the oysters Rockefeller, which mixes creamed spinach and Pernod under a hollandaise roof ($8.95), preps tastebuds for their aquatic degustation, while the seafood kabob skewers swordfish, shrimp, bell peppers, and onions ($23.95). Terrestrial grub includes a fresh gorgonzola salad, tossed with onions, garlic, oil and vinegar, and gorgonzola cheese ($10.95), as well as baby back ribs slow-roasted in house barbeque sauce ($18.95). A cabaret-style piano bar hosts live entertainment nightly, bringing guests soulful notes to sweeten their eats and elegant sips of wine.
As the sun dips below North Lake, strings of lights bordering Taverna Opa?s patio flicker on, casting a warm glow on the water below. The crepuscular calm lasts only a few moments at Taverna Opa: once night falls, live DJs take to the stage, furnishing belly dancers with a throbbing beat by which to shimmy and undulate. Waiters often lock arms and break into traditional zorba dancing. And, if the night reaches a fever pitch, patrons may smash their plates and toss their napkins in the air. This raucous atmosphere has earned Taverna Opa the spotlight in a slew of media publications. But though revelry is paramount, Taverna Opa doesn?t shirk cuisine: chefs marinate fresh seafood and lamb in fresh herbs and roast them on a wood-fired grill, and bartenders pour Greek wines well-suited for the succulent meats or postmeal Trojan horse christenings.
A native of La Mure, France, Chef Laurent Tasic's culinary passion began in his grandmother's farm kitchen, where the young Laurent helped her put together homemade country dishes. After honing his cooking and restaurateur skills in Europe, the French Antilles, and the Cayman Islands, Chef Laurent relocated to Fort Lauderdale, where he draws on his homeland's flavors at two Sage Oyster Bar & Restaurant locations. At his Fort Lauderdale eatery, he expands upon the traditional French countryside dishes of his youth by stuffing onions with veal and provolone, coating roasted duck with honey-raspberry sauce, and filling crepes with wilted spinach and goat cheese. Meals take place on a covered outdoor sidewalk or inside a dining area modeled after a romantic European bistro, where tastings of the restaurant's extensive wine collection and flavored floorboards occur every first and third Tuesday of the month. At his Hollywood location, meanwhile, Chef Laurent focuses on French-seafood preparation, serving oysters baked with roquefort cheese and pizza topped with Maine lobster from the kitchen's brick oven. The ambiance draws upon a similarly romantic aura, with soothing, dramatic lighting that illuminates the artfully arranged plates emerging from the kitchen.
Ceviche and Grille helps guests expand their palates with a spread of vibrant Peruvian ceviche, steaks, chicken, and fried fish. Much like Picasso’s food period, each dish is a delightful burst of color and flavor, with lime-garnished platters of shrimp ceviche, red sauce drizzled on fried fish fillets with yucas, and yellow Peruvian chili cheese slathered over shredded chicken. As they twirl forks into strands of buttery pasta or dig into strips of Angus beef, guests lounge on the open-air patio with a frosty Peruvian beer or Inca Cola in hand, or nestle into brightly colored booths in the dining room.
La Cocina Puertorriquena's specialty is mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish made of mashed fried plantains. Chefs use that recipe as a foundation, preparing more than 20 varieties of the dish with chunks or pork, skirt steak, and breaded shrimp. They also showcase a variety of other traditional specialties, including roasted meats and fried whole snapper. On Saturday nights, servers clear away tables to make room for live musicians and dancing until 1 a.m. The restaurant’s walls proudly display the Puerto Rican flag, which should never be nibbled on, despite its mofongo taste.