There are a lot of factors that go into making a successful restaurant - partners that share a vision, culinary talent and creativity, a diligent and knowledgeable front of house and a concept that will take off. The Pubbelly group in Miami checks all of those boxes, plus has some of the most fun and exciting food that you want to eat over and over again. Pubbelly as a group comprises four restaurants: Pubbelly Gastro Pub, Barceloneta, Pubbelly Sushi and, the newest, Macchialina. All of the partners are Chefs and Hospitality Professionals and, most importantly, they are hands on every single day. The vision and expertise (plus pure FUN!) of the partners make the Pubbelly restaurants a true culinary adventure. One of our goals has been to complete the Pubbelly Crawl - a tour of all four of the restaurants and to sample their signature and seasonal dishes. We did it and our primary takeaway was - When can we go back? Pubbelly Gastro Pub There are no distractions from the menu at the Pubbelly Gastro Pub. Brick walls, wood tables and a neighborhood feel allow you to be comfy while perusing an inspired menu full of imaginative, reasonably priced plates. Our server was incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the menu and steered us in the most delicious directions. We oohed & aahed over the Dates avec Chorizo with goat cream and bacon and scooped forkfuls of the perfectly formed Housemade Gnudi with pumpkin and black lager jus. The signature McBelly slider is a must-have with a crunchy and flavorful kimchee and delicious barbecue sauce. The wild plate that was surprisingly scrumptious was the Foie and Nutella. I am all about Foie anything, but the Nutella even gave me pause. Crispy toasts, melted Nutella and creamy, rich Foie mousse made this a mindblowing experience - the first bite is all about processing the rich ingredients. The second bite is pure heaven. Pubbelly Gastro Pub has seasonal offerings as well as an occasionally changing menu - look for the Braised Berkshire Pork Cheeks with potato foam (I am addicted!), horseradish cream, and caviar jus. It will complete your life. Barceloneta When you think Barceloneta, you should think Catalan Bistro; a lively atmosphere, always busy and an open kitchen that allows you to see the innovative Chef Juliana Gonazalez at work. She never disappoints! Service at Barceloneta follows along the same stellar path as Pubbelly Gastro Pub - the servers are full of information and happy to guide you through the menu according to your preferences. The Bistro Plates are my favorites. Barceloneta allows me to eat how I love to eat - multiple plates to share with each bite introducing a new flavor experience. Dinner is a winding journey through dishes like the mandatory Barceloneta Pulpo a Feira - octopus, fingerling potato foam, pimento and chorizo (the best I have ever had); and the exquisite head-on Gambas con Chocolate - langoustines, garlic, sherry, and chocolate picada. Don’t overlook the signature shishito peppers with candied walnuts resting on a scoop of Valdeon cheese or the mouthwatering Ensalada de Alachofa - baby artichokes, frisse, arugula, wheat berries, Serrano ham, and Manchego cheese finished with a truffle vinaigrette. Dessert is not meant to fill you up further, but rather sweep you away on clouds of salted caramel delight that are enhanced with chocolate crumbs and layers of raspberries. Pubbelly Sushi In a complete departure from the Gastro Pub and Barceloneta, Pubbelly Sushi opened in October 2011; however, the Pubbelly brand is completely present in the decor, neighborhood conviviality and stellar service. The Pork Belly and Clams Sushi Roll could also be a giveaway (and a definite recommendation!). Pubbelly Sushi is not your traditional sushi but experiential eating with intriguing combos. One of our favorite dishes is Tostones con Ceviche - hamachi ceviche served with fried plantains. The tang of the ceviche combined with the just-perfect mild crunch of the tostones will get me back again and again. We stayed on the non-traditional path enjoying delights like the Maine Lobster New England Style roll (with Yuzu!) and the Southern Fried Soft Shell Crab with Kimchee, Mustard Slaw, and Shiso Ranch. The unusual combos make it so much fun to choose different bites from the menu! Two of the must-try dishes (although there is not anything that we would not recommend so far!) are the Bigeye Tuna roll - spicy tuna, arroz Pegao, rocotto cream and sea salt and the Hamachi Jalapeno sashimi. Both are flavor explosions and both have the same result - you want to request another order, hoard it from your friends and eat it immediately. Macchialina Since I am a Northeast transplant, Macchialina felt a bit like coming home. It is the latest addition to the Pubbelly group and front of house and kitchen are under the deft Northeastern-influenced vision of owners Chef Michael Pirolo and General Manager Jennifer Chaefsky. They have created a neighborhood haven with a generous daily Happy Hour with Pizza and Peroni for $10, a menu filled to the brim with rustic Italian plates and servers that present the menu famously. The motto on the menu is "Life is a combination of magic and pasta" (Federico Fellini) and the dish that brought the magic most particularly for me was the Beet Filled Mezzaluna - perfect al dente ravioli half moons filled with ricotta salata and topped with finely diced beets and brown butter and sprinkled with poppy seeds. Sublime, magical and unforgettable. As I was waxing poetic on beets and mezzaluna, the Creamy Polenta with sausage ragu and cipollini arrived to distract and delight. Mounds of Broccolini al Cesare is compulsory - the toasted garlic and pile of deliciously dressed greens will change how you think about Caesar anything. Cavatelli Macchialina with baby meatballs was satisfying and only lacking in that I wanted about 20 more of the meatballs. To round off dinner, you must have the Tiramisu. The espresso granita and chocolate crumble is paired with a mascarpone pudding that can make you weep. As with all of the Pubbelly restaurants, picking favorites is hard to do and I won’t even attempt. Each restaurant has something so unique to offer but always with the consistent Pubbelly stellar quality present. Just when you think you have experienced something completely amazing, there is another plate, another dish, another experience. Ambiance, a distinctive vision, neighborhood comfort, and pocketbook friendly prices are all part of the adventure on the Pubbelly Crawl. I'm ready to do it again!Read More
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Tourists may flock to Miami to enjoy the sun, but every local knows the summer heat can wear you down. Thankfully, the city's spas offer restorative hydrotherapy services that are even more satisfying when it's scorching outside.At Exhale Miami—Miami New Times's pick for Best Spa in 2012—swimsuit-clad visitors rinse off under a warm-water wash before lying upon heated stones in the coed hammam. There, an aesthetician dissolves dry skin with a double exfoliation that includes an organic aromatherapy scrub. A cool shower rinses skin clean, and an aromatherapy mist seals in the moisture that results from the scrub.On the rooftop of the Delano South Beach Hotel, patrons catch ocean breezes and take in 360-degree views in Agua Spa's open-air lounge area. Guests can laze outside on lounge chairs and enjoy poolside massages and manicures, or they can head indoors to air out their pores with oxygen-infused facials. Uhma's half-hour Vichy showers drizzle water onto overheated limbs, a treatment the spa suggests as a prelude to the acclaimed massage services that were twice featured in Allure. Visitors plan their own water journeys at Lapis, the spa at the landmark resort Fontainebleau, by choosing from a selection of six Lapis Ritual Water Elements and Journeys. The mineral-treated waters of the 75-foot pool energize and soften the skin, and the jets of the Elements rain tunnel massage limbs with alternating showers of warm and cool water.For a more extreme cooling experience, breeze through The Standard Spa, where guests submerge their sweltering skin in a 50-degree soaking tub known as the Arctic Plunge. The spa's hydrotherapy menu is extensive, boasting everything from cold rain showers to relaxing dips in an outdoor infinity pool that features a front-row view of breezy Biscayne Bay.Read More
South Beach on Sunday morning has a silence that is golden...or like a ghost town. Tourists and late-night partiers are still snoozing while the residents are heading to a relaxing yoga class or paddle boarding on the early morning bay. It’s a great time to walk the beach or wander through the Miami Botanical Gardens but, as late morning approaches, brunch is the order of business. The choices are vast on South Beach but here are a few top picks that make me long for Sundays. I often like my brunches tapas style (so I can try more dishes and share plates with friends), and for real tapas, I go to Barceloneta. Headed by Chef Julia Gonzalez and part of the infamous Pubbelly group, Barceloneta provides vibrant Catalan-influenced food, traditional and contemporary. The dish that sounds a siren call in my head from Barceloneta is the Alubias con Botifarra: housemade Catalan Sausage with white beans, roasted peppers and an organic poached egg. I restrained myself from licking the bowl but only because I was distracted by the delightfully sweet and addictive Shishito peppers with candied walnuts and Valdeon sauce (blue cheese) pooled at the bottom of the plate. Eggs Benedict is mandatory for brunch in my opinion and Barceloneta accommodates my picky palate with their Benedict that includes a potato roll, pork belly, Serrano ham, Hollandaise sauce, & a poached organic egg. Some Sundays you wake up craving grits. At least, this started happening to me once I experienced the fresh Adluh South Carolina stone ground cheesy corn grits at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. I crave their fluffy, creamy and cheesy deliciousness and I guarantee that they don’t taste like most of the grits you have ever experienced. Yardbird has service with a smile and genuine Southern friendliness. Their farm-to-table classic Southern menu delivers some of my favorites like the Fried Green Tomato BLT (pork belly, pimento cheese & tomato jam with the fried green tomatoes) and the BLT Benedict Cast Iron Casserole (made with a buttermilk biscuit crumble). Notice there are lots of “B”’s - that is for Yardbird’s dedication to intensely flavorful bacon, pork belly and Virginia ham. If you don’t like pork, you might drool over the rolled in sugar and seated in strawberry jam Pumpkin Beignets. Close your eyes and it's as if you had traveled to the South. Fried chicken is also an option at brunch … fried chicken and bacon? Thank you, Yardbird. Something about brunch makes Southern cooking so right and Georgia’s Union brings organic soul food right to the table peppered with the passion of Chef Nate Martin for hand-picked, fresh food. Even some of my fried favorites like frog legs with buttermilk dressing and golden fried chicken livers with caramelized onion aioli are light and fried with non-hydrogenated oils and no trans fats. But, there are two particular dishes which have stolen my heart at Georgia’s Union. The first is “Bleu Collared” Greens with baby greens, roasted yellow beets, oyster mushrooms, honey’d pecans and a Winter Park bleu cheese to make you weep. The second dish is where the grits come in - creamy fresh Riverview Farm white corn grits buried under a mound of crayfish (Florida spiny lobster), lobster jus, green onions and roasted tomatoes. Dig deep and savor those bites or you could just order two. There is a newcomer to the breakfast and brunch scene on South Beach … FIX, at the newly renovated Blue Moon Hotel on Collins Avenue. Fix has just opened but word of the scrumptious offerings are spreading like wildfire. Lounge by the gorgeous pool under a wood-beamed porch and prepare to be delighted by Chef David Welch’s contemporary menu. I recommend two brunch must-haves: The Kurobota Pork Belly Benedict and the Rice Krispie®-Crusted French Toast. There is no way to be flowery - Chef David Welch has delivered the best pork belly that I have ever eaten. Period. I was a hard sell for the French Toast but after one bite of the brioche bread, bourbon caramel sauce (OMG), mascarpone zabaglione (OMGx2), and fresh strawberries, I am a convert. The Fried Oyster Po-Boy with the bacon-chive aioli sealed the deal - FIX is here to make a statement and it is “Come and Eat” which I will do again and again. For those who like cocktails with brunch, all cocktails at FIX use freshly juiced fruits when appropriate and when aren’t mimosas appropriate? Or blueberry caipirinhas? Or White Sangrias? Brunch in South Beach is an adventure - a delectable one - and what gets me out of bed on a Sunday morning.Read More
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