By now you’ve probably heard the news of Miami’s booming dining scene that stretches well beyond South Beach. Just over the bridge from the beaches lies a neighborhood garnering much attention – Miami’s Design District. A large investment from LVMH (yes, that’s Louis Vuitton) resulted in an outdoor mall akin to Rodeo Drive. Shops like Prada, Dior, Christian Louboutin, and Marni have joined the pre-existing swanky interior design stores to create a retail heaven for upper crust shoppers.
The most exciting part of this growth for those food-lovers out there are the constant addition of new, remarkable restaurants in the District and its artsy/edgy neighbor, Wynwood. Mainstays like Michael’s Genuine, Wynwood Kitchen, and Mandolin Aegean Bistro have new competition every day, both high and low. Here are a few selections across a variety of flavors to introduce you to the hottest neighborhood in town.
Offering regionally-inspired Italian cuisine and the city’s only official bocce court, Bocce brings a fun, old-school Italian vibe to Miami. The restaurant’s fresh and classic ingredients are reminiscent of Italian markets. The menu features contemporary dishes like braised beef short rib with horseradish crust and house-made beet-and goat-cheese-filled ravioli. Chef Nunzio Fuschillo hails from Naples and spent his childhood on his family’s farm. His cooking style (learned from Grandma, of course) is simplistic and memorable, offering comfort dishes like cannelloni di coda with braised oxtail, taleggio, homemade sausage, and the chef’s signature meatballs. Each dish is beautifully presented. Behind the bar, mixologists craft artisanal cocktails concocted with an array of house-made liqueurs. Brunch at bocce in the sun is fun on the weekends, and even features unlimited prosecco.
The newest outpost from the team behind South Beach’s popular eatery, Sardinia, offers cuisine inspired by Naples and the Amalfi Coast including made-to-order pizzas, calzones, and pastas. Smack in the middle of everything– just a couple of blocks away from Theory and Givenchy – Campania features a gorgeous custom pizza oven created in Italy and shipped to Miami (which pumps out some mouthwatering pizza). The restaurant’s design lends itself to the cozy, beachy feel of Italy’s coast, rather than the neon or slick white décor often associated with Miami. Diners can indulge in the Marechiaro: a calzone filled with mozzarella, tomato, ricotta cheese, salami, pepper, and basil; the steamed mussels with oregano and white wine; or the classic Cotoletta alla Sorrentina: veal Milanesa-style with mozzarella and basil. The eatery also houses a marketplace where guests can purchase fresh buffalo mozzarella and burrata, made in-house daily.
The fresh and fast Mexican street food at Coyo Taco perfectly accompanies the cool vibe of Miami’s new art center, Wynwood. Executive chef Scott Linquist created a locally-sourced, innovative menu that has captured the hearts of taco-lovers across the city. Cocktails using handcrafted Tequila and Mezcal nicely round out the experience. Look for hand-mashed Guacamole, handcrafted tortillas, and humanely raised seafood and meat. The Carnitas de Pato with crispy duck are especially tasty while the quinoa and queso “falafel” with cilantro yogurt and cucumber pico offer a surprisingly delicious vegetarian option. Don’t miss sipping the freshly made Aguas Frescas and Margaritas.
Cool, casual, delicious, and fresh are the defining characteristics of this Design District favorite (technically two blocks north of DD, in the cozy Buena Vista neighborhood). Contemporary Pan-American eats from James Beard Award-nominated chef Horacio Rivadero include cobia ceviche, swordfish tacos, duck salad, and Afro-Cuban Pork. The lamb duo is a particular standout with its smoked pomegranate barbecue sauce and sweet potato puree. The laid-back happy hour features $5 wines and bites (like the tasty crab meat deviled eggs), and is a great stop post-work or pre-shopping. They also host a popular weekend brunch featuring dishes like pineapple pancakes, perfectly done huevos rancheros, and fresh salads.
Pride & Joy
Good barbecue is a rarity in Miami, and Wynwood’s Pride & Joy has it nailed. Initial disagreements with the original New York owners have not put a dent in the stride of this neighborhood favorite. With a large outdoor picnic area – including a brick patio for drinking or kids playing – Pride & Joy hasn’t just captured the flavor or barbecue, but the casual spirit as well (their lack of a proper website somewhat speaks to that laid back spirit). The barbecue board (full racks of both St. Louis and baby back ribs, barbecued half-chicken, half-pound of brisket, half-pound of pulled pork, cornbread, and choice of two sides) is the way to go with a group, while any of the single selections deliver; the burgers are are also solid. Don’t miss the mac and cheese as a side dish.
Proof Pizza & Pasta
With its charming terrace and reliable pizzas, Proof is a great option for casual dining in the area. Located next to local favorite, Gigi (whose silky noodles are worth a try as well), Proof is a neighborhood stop serving Neapolitan-style pizza and fresh homemade pasta from chefs Justin Flit and Matt DePante. The chefs’ impressive résumés include New York’s Gramercy Tavern and The Dutch in Miami. The culinary twosome, who believe that “there are no shortcuts to delicious food,” use the highest-quality Caputo 00 flour, sourdough starter, and dough that is “proofed” for 18 hours. While the average diner won’t understand the meaning of these elements, the fluffy handmade pizzas – cooked in a 900-degree wood-burning oven – speak for themselves. Not to be overlooked, the pastas, such as the triangoli with ricotta-artichoke filling, zucchini, and braised Swiss chard are expertly done as well.
Sugarcane Raw Bar & Grill
Not new, but certainly not to be missed, Sugarcane is a reliably delectable offering from owners of Sushi Samba. Set in Midtown, the restaurant’s robata kitchen, hot kitchen, and raw bar come together for a unique take on South American flavors. An eclectic menu of small plates and filling mains make for a perfect meal aside the artisanal cocktails and extensive rum selection. The dining areas are numerous and include the spacious interior, striking outdoor bar and terrace, and a gallery for private events. The menu is big, but easily edited down with the help of their knowledgeable staff. The raw bar has some of the best oysters in town; the hamachi tataki crudo is a favorite, as is the duck and waffle, and the robata squid. For an entrée, one can’t go wrong with the Branzino, while the Brussels sprouts with orange and sweet soy on the tapas menu delight even the most-dedicated carnivores.