This week I had Korean sweetbreads at Michy’s, ate what is probably the best pizza in South Florida, and finally made it to La Latina.
Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I have only but recently noticed a few American restaurants dwelling into the Far East with a few dishes that explore flavors from Asian countries. If it’s not anything new and I am indeed mistaken, I, in any case , welcome such risk taking and have liked the few items I’ve recently tasted. The nice thing is that it is just one or two dishes from a menu of perhaps 25-30 items, so it’s not a disastrous Epcot center type attempt at including all continents on your menu, as so many places have failed miserably at. I recall a not so far distant experience at a restaurant that shall remain unnamed where I could count at least 7 different countries on the menu, spanning 4 continents. Pasta, Hoummus, Sushi, Onion Soup?
Michy’s needs no introduction. It has firmly consolidated itself as one of the best restaurants in town and a recent visit reassured so. The place was humming and a crowd was gathered at the bar waiting to be seated, so Miami’s love for Mrs. Bernstein remains intact. I took some friends from out of town and everyone was happy with their starters, which included the succulent egg and truffle polenta, a deliciously prepared foie gras and an interesting Burrata with a greater beet than tomato content (it works). My starter and what led me to this post was sweetbreads that had been deepfried and placed inside lettuce wraps with some Kimchi, “Korean Style”. The spice was there and made for a welcome distinction to her traditional new american menu.
The main courses were are winners. I couldn’t resist ordering the braised short rib, which I have always unequivocally ordered there and I always refuse to order something else. I simply haven’t found a better braised short rib in town. Hopefully one day I will find that recipe somewhere. The pasta dishes were also nicely and slightly changed from previous versions, which makes the menu appealing for regulars. The steak frites was spot on as always.
Everyone loves pizza right? I certainly do and ever since local pizza lover The Chowfather announced he had discovered the best pizza in South Florida at Oceano Pizzeria in Lantana, I’ve been wanting to check it out. Their pizza really has no option, it really has to be the best in the State because it’s one tough fish to catch. It only opens a few hours a day, from 5.30 pm until they “run out of ingredients”, which depends of course on how many pizzas are ordered; this can be anything in between 3-5 hours. Specially if you are driving up from Miami, make sure you get there early, close to opening time, because the other factor to take into consideration is that locals adore this place and by 6pm you may find yourself having to wait at least one hour for a table (the place is small). The artisan, hand crafted, attention to detail nature of of the ellaboration, by the chef and owner using his single brick oven also makes the amazing pies come out at a rate of one, maybe two at a time, which adds time to the process. It’s a labour of love thing, depending on your luck. We got there at 6.30pm on a Saturday and left at 9.30pm, so if you add the two hours from a roundtrip drive it can become a 5 hour deal, but it IS worth it. The pizza dough is soft in the middle with smoked crust outside, the acute slivers of tomato sauce and the homemade mozzarella pair nicely with delicately oiled basil leaves. They have a serious combination of traditional and more adventourous toppings, all sourced localy and freshly prepared on the day (nothing makes it to the next day). They also offer some dishes outside of their pizza of which we tried a few and they were quite nice, specially a pulled pork on toast with creamy fondue and watercress.
If you are a true pizza lover, go there soon but plan to go early. If you just like pizza make sure you stop by Lantana next time you take a road trip up North.
Finally this week I also got to try La Latina, the Venezuelan food spot in midtown. I’m going to be biased here, but properly biased since I should know right? Well I do, and one of the main reasons I don’t eat arepas outside my house here in Miami is because my experiences have been dreadful, as if the arepas were made by someone that is neither from Venezuela nor knows how to cook.
Until now. La Latina benefits from the fact that it is owned and run by Venezuelans, and by some Venezuelans with good taste and appreciation for flavour. They are quite the innovators too, allowing you to order from the comfort of your own computer or phone. The dough of the arepas is soft, and the outside slightly crunchy. As it should be. The empanadas dough has a slight sweet taste, which throws them in the Andean region and make them taste even better. The fillings, equally as important as the arepa itself and well seasoned and finely selected. I particularly enjoyed what they did with their signature arepa, combining gouda with avocado and bacon. The sides and other menu items were also very tasty and aim to please any type of appetite. Tequeños are a must, specially dipped in Hot sauce, and the plantain baskets filled with chicken are a delightful single bite.
They are open late (5am) on Fridays and Saturdays which is handy given the proximity to a few well known watering holes, because as you may or not know there is nothing better than being drunk at 3am and having a couple of Catira arepas (not that I would know, but I’ve heard).
See you next week