Just in time for the final stretch of the holidays, Miami’s new restaurants are heavily emphasizing the glitz factor. Mediterranean fare is everywhere, including at a new outpost of a spot that’s already seen much success in Chicago and Austin. A refined Italian restaurant settles into the Design District, while Greece is coming to Sunny Isles Beach, and a luxe French-inspired staple gets a revamp. Plus, we have a new farm-to-table brunch menu that’s ready to welcome you to Coral Gables.
You’re here because: Maybe you already know Aba from one of its outposts in Chicago or Austin, or maybe you’re just enticed by the promise of a menu inspired by flavors from Israel, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece via Top Chef alum/chef partner CJ Jacobson.The dining room — redolent with earthy tones, olive trees, climbing ivy and gold Moroccan fixtures — is the perfect place to discover his cuisine.
You’re dining on: A menu fusing flavors from across the Mediterranean: anything from broccoli with date tahini and za’atar to shawarma-spiced skirt steak with black garlic mushroom jus. A wine list focusing on biodynamic and organic wines from the Mediterranean and cocktail offerings featuring everything from curated house creations to zero-proof pours complete the experience.
You’re here because: A refined Italian restaurant is just what you’ve been looking for, and this spot from Major Food Group, inspired by the old-world sophistication of northern Italy’s sprawling estates, more than delivers. Following a much-lauded introduction in Boston, Contessa has recently arrived in its two-story home in the Design District, promising to conquer just as many hearts in Florida.
You’re dining on: A menu inspired by some of the finest Italian ingredients, from the Chianina beef that features in the carpaccio to prosciutto atop the signature pizzas. Let yourself be tempted by northern Italian pasta specialties, like spicy lobster capellini or fusilli Genovese, and house-made gelati are sure to make anyone with a sweet tooth swoon.
Sunny Isles Beach
You’re here because: The prospect of being transported to Greece for just one night is too tantalizing to pass up, and that’s exactly what Avra provides. The fifth outpost of the 20-years-strong Manhattan brand is a more than welcome addition to the Estates at Acqualina, with a vibrant, lavish dining room boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, salt stone sculptures and brass finishings.
You’re dining on: Food inspired by the seaside tavernas of the Grecian coast and islands, taking full advantage of fresh seafood, vegetables and the brand’s extra-virgin olive oil, hand-pressed in Peloponnese. Hand-select from the in-season catch on ice, and then decide how you’d like it prepared. Grilled whole over charcoal? Finished with the signature ladolemono sauce? Raw in a carpaccio? It’s entirely up to you. Vegetarians will drool over baked saganaki cheese or grilled halloumi drizzled with honey. And fans of other Avra outposts will be surprised by a few Miami exclusives like mussels in tomato broth with feta or Dover sole meuniere with Ossetra caviar.
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You’re here because: You’re familiar with chef Niven Patel’s farm-to-table fare at this restaurant from THesis Hotel Miami, so now that the restaurant has launched its brand-new brunch service, you’re excited to see what the four-time James Beard Award nominee is cooking up with the ingredients from his backyard farm, Rancho Patel.
You’re dining on: A host of both brunch staples and innovative twists. Belgian waffles are served with honeycrisp apple and maple crème fraîche, while ricotta pancakes come with Nutella and hazelnut praline. On the savory side, pastrami gets the Benedict treatment, while steak-and-eggs is ready for its close-up with grilled wagyu paired with wood-roasted farm eggs. More lunch-adjacent options include a crispy bacon sandwich on a homemade biscuit or house-smoked bacon pizza with fontina, as well as a few Orno stalwarts like grilled octopus with confit potato or beef tartare with brown-butter hollandaise. Top it all off with bottomless Moet Brut or Rosé, and brunch hasn’t looked this good in a very long time.
You’re here because: You were already a fan of elegant supper club Villa Azur, and the two weeks it was closed for renovations felt like an eternity. Now boasting a host of glam additions — including two magnificent chandeliers in the main entrance and light touches of blue, beige, champagne and gold — Villa Azur is more magical than ever.
You’re dining on: A revamped menu of French- and Mediterranean-inspired dishes designed to wow. New additions include seafood-focused fare like blackened swordfish and yellowtail crudo, as well as more classic French options like ravioles de romans or baked bucheron cheese. They join Villa Azur stalwarts like tuna tartare, prime filet mignon and a seafood tower boasting a full pound and a half of Maine lobster.
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