It is Spring Break, and I happen to live on the beach, so imagine my initial hesitation when Andy Giambarba chose Ariete in Coconut Grove as our next collaborative review. Uber was 2.5 surge, so I decided to drive. Waze took me on a lot of back roads, but Ariete is worth sitting in any traffic, as once you settle into the intimate and cozy restaurant you feel a million miles away from the South Beach craziness.
Coconut Grove has changed a lot in the past few years. New condo towers continue to rise. More couples and young families are populating neighboring areas. And Harry’s Pizzeria and Panther Coffee have opened in an area mostly known for Monty’s and Cheesecake Factory.
Tucked away between two other non-descript restaurants is Ariete, the joint venture of Chef Michael Beltran (formerly at Cypress Room) and Jason Odio. They have created a creative and delicious menu that is both surprising and unique for the Grove…or for that matter most of Miami.
We ventured in for their newly announced Happy Hour and sat at the long wood bar enjoying cocktails like The Girl From Ipanema; cachaca, ginger beer, and lime, and Come Fue?; ancho reyes, prosecco, strawberry, and lemon.
And some bar snacks including the show-stopping Roasted Oysters with Bone Marrow Butter. These should not be missed, and even though just one of these large oysters are ample enough to share, please don’t stop at just one. They are remarkable. We shared 4 which at the Happy Hour $1- a piece is a bargain.
We also selected Ariete Oxtail Nuggets with Tamarind ketchup, which again was a nice appetizer to share at the bar.
For dinner, we moved to a table on the outside front patio. Bordered with a white fence in front and seagrapes along the side, we felt far removed from the restaurant next door. A glass of crisp Albarino paired well with an additional appetizer of Chicken Liver Mousse with crostini and Knaus Berry Farm fresh strawberry jam.
For Main Courses, we selected the ½ Wood Grilled Green Circle Chicken, a smoky and flavorful dish with salsa verde and bright green pea shoots sprinkled on top.
The Grilled Wahoo we both agreed was one of the best dishes we have had recently in Miami. A firm white fish, it was grilled perfectly and sat on braised fennel. The house-made spicy chermoula offered just the right amount of spice, cumin, and cilantro to enhance and not overpower the delicate fish. Props to the Sous Chef, Matthew Thomas, for not smothering a delicious piece of fish with heavy sauces!
At this point we considered skipping dessert, but then Andy saw sitting at the bar, Ariete’s Executive pastry chef, Dallas Wynne, who after graduation from Johnson and Wales worked at Michael’s Genuine learning pastry arts under the watchful eye of the talented Hedy Goldsmith. It was her day off but she was working on new recipes and joined us to share her story of going from “savory to sweet”…and never looking back.
Without hesitation, she encouraged us to try the Crème Bruleé. Not a big fan of this usually mediocre dessert staple, we were intrigued when she described it as being made with maple syrup, fresh blueberries, Demerara brown sugar and caramelized bacon.
And it did not disappoint. The combination of the bacon and maple flavors complemented the custardy consistency and crunchy sugary top. And the plump blueberries made for just another flavor and texture contrast. As a matter of fact, my birthday is in a couple weeks and I may just have to return for dinner and this dessert! Wonder if they could pop in a candle?
The dinner was excellent, the staff in both the kitchen and the front of the house couldn’t have been more enthusiastic and I formed a new respect for Coconut Grove and it’s growing food scene. Kudos to the team at Ariete. Make this a “must” dining destination sometime soon. You are in for a treat.
3540 Main Highway