Miami diners rejoice! Miami Spice--the fixe-prix, mouth-watering restaurant promotion showcasing the very best of Miami cuisine-- is finally upon us and will run throughout the end of summer up till the 30th of September.
And building up to the grand kick-off event, Miami Spice Mash-Up series, presented by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), pays tribute to the popular program with curated collaborations between some of the area’s most popular chefs.
Riding on the tail of Miami’s successful performances on the inaugural season of Tom Colicchio’s Bravo TV American reality television show, Best New Restaurant, last Thursday's Mash Up was hosted at season’s winning restaurant Dolce Italian, where Paolo Dorigato paired up with runner-up contestant Cesar Zapata of The Federal, for a meal that piqued diners’ appetites with what’s to come. And having participated as one of the recruited "Secret Service" diners by the man himself, I went undercover to make sure the Best New Restaurant contenders are keeping up to par with the standards they set by raising the bar on the local dining scene.
Unfortunately, it was hard to fool the evening’s host, and the mastermind behind Dolce’s success, Dean Tsakanakis, who spotted me immediately and even offered to hook me up with an extra pair of wine tickets. Touche, Mr. Tsakanakis, touche.
The dinner began with with a table shared treat of an eight point star-shaped San Daniele pizza, made with prosciutto, flor di latte mozzarella, and san marzano tomatoes, teamed up with a pint of Stella Artois for a delightful palate teaser of flavors to come. The table couldn’t get enough of it.
For the first round, Dolce led the way with an octopus, chickpea and farro salad, tossed in a pistachio vinaigrette with frisee greens. The octopus was tender but the farro lacked seasoning. The more creative out of the two dishes followed with The Federal’s bacon fat glazed pineapple steak served with a rich black mole sauce, and sprinkled with bacon lardons, jalapeño jam, and holy basil. The rich flavors came together boldly, but some critiqued that the dish was a bit cloying for an appetizer.
Round two showcased the main attraction with respective main entrees. The Sorrento inspired lemon risotto with gold shrimp further delved into Dolce’s Mediterranean pillars of excellence and paired perfectly well with the crisp notes of the Terrazas Reserva chardonnay. Keeping with its robust, latin soul-food MO, The Federal delivered a tasteful bite of their modern American fare in form of a petite pork shank with braised collard greens and smoked grapes. Both were insatiably good, depending on your mood.
The competition became increasingly notable when the time came for dessert. Dolce’s simpler blueberry ricotta cheesecake came to life when dipped in the natural honeycombed served with it; The Federal's Krispy Kreme drenched in a thick caramel sauce came to fruition when the bourbon drunken cherries popped in your mouth. Boom!
The one complaint we all had is that we felt it was awkward to have all of the competing dishes in each round served at the same time; if you chose between one or the other, the later was bound to get cold and deliver less than average expectations. Luckily for you, when the time comes for you to opt on either one of the competing locations, your dishes will be delivered with cadence and tempo, and none of the ingredients will miss the beat.
Let the games begin, and may the odds be ever in your flavor! Happy Spicing, carry on.
1690 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139, United States
5132 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137, United States