Restaurant listings for the BT Dining Guide are written Pamela Robin Brandt (
). Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, but please call ahead to confirm information. Icons ($$$) represent estimates for a typical meal without wine, tax, or tip. Hyphenated icons ($-$$$) indicate a significant range in prices between lunch and dinner menus, or among individual items on those menus.
$= $10 and under
$$$$$= $50 and over
17315 Collins Ave.
786 923 9305
From bad-boy celeb chef Ralph Pagano, Sole resort’s seaside Italian/Italian-American eatery has an irreverent retro Rat Pack vibe and a menu featuring “naked ravioli” from the Gnudi Bar, fresh seafood, homemade pastas, classic and contemporary pizzas, and old school “red sauce joint” entrées, some upscaled. (When lobster Française is available, why settle for chicken?) Almond-sage butter-sauced butternut squash gnudi is a best bet. And meals end with another best bet: the “Vinny D Split,” a game enabling tables to win their meals for free. $$$$
Chef Philip Ho
16850 Collins Ave.
Deep-pocketed diners who ate at the Setai when Jonathan Wright was executive chef already know chef Ho’s work. His dazzling dim sum were the menu’s highlight. Now they’re affordable for all. Dumplings (chive and shrimp, green tea duck, truffle-spiked scallop, more) have skins delicate enough to see through; open shrimp dumplings with dried scallops are almost flower-like in appearance; steamed cheung fan (rice noodle crêpes) rolled around Chinese crullers are simply sinful, as are flaky-crusted egg custard tarts. And the regular menu measures up to the small plates. $$-$$$
18090 Collins Ave.
At this family-owned (and kid-friendly), white-tablecloth Indian restaurant, prices are more upscale than average, but so is the food’s elegant presentation -- plus features like a full bar, live Bollywood/belly dancing on weekends, and, among familiar North Indian fare, dishes blending contemporary touches with traditional tastes. Especially enjoyable: starters inspired by street snacks, like bikaneri chaat (fried gram flour crisps, chickpeas, and yogurt) served with two chutneys; anything featuring paneer cheese, from classic spinach/cheese palak paneer to creative khazazs-e-lazzat (sundried tomato-stuffed paneer/potato dumplings in smooth cream sauce). $$$
Epicure Gourmet Market & Café
17190 Collins Ave.
Who even knew that the late Rascal House had an ocean view? Diners may have to eat standing up to glimpse water over the dunes from the panoramic café windows of the gourmet market that replaced the Rascal, but you know you’re on a tropical beach, not Brighton Beach. The big, bright café’s menu, more global diner than Jewish deli, includes daily specials ranging from spa-grilled chicken to homemade Italian sausage and peppers. But it’s worth seeking out items that made South Beach’s original Epicure famous: sandwiches featuring housemade rare roast beef; shrimp or chunky smoked whitefish salads; fresh baked goods. $$$
The H Restaurant
17608 Collins Ave.
This friendly, family-owned bistro is the sort of home-away-from-home found every few blocks in France, here Gerard and Karin Herrison, plus chef son Julien, formerly had a restaurant. But they’re rarely found in South Florida. Burgers, et al., are available, but with garlicky escargots, a savory/sweet-dressed salad of duck confit atop frisée, pan-seared foie gras with port/raspberry sauce, fish with an impeccable lemon beurre blanc, and a satisfying steak/frites (with peppery cognac cream sauce), we’d leave the American stuff to the kids. $$$-$$$$
Il Mulino New York
17875 Collins Ave.
If too much is not enough for you, this majorly upscale Italian-American place, an offshoot of the famed NYC original, is your restaurant. For starters, diners receive enough freebie food -- fried zucchini coins, salami, bruschetta with varying toppings, a wedge of quality parmigiano, garlic bread -- that ordering off the menu seems superfluous. But mushroom raviolis in truffle cream sauce are irresistible, and perfectly tenderized veal parmesan, the size of a large pizza, makes a great take-out dinner…for the next week. $$$$-$$$$$
16701 Collins Ave.
Offering eclectic American fare, this resort restaurant room, despite its contemporary open kitchen, has the retro-glam look of a renovated discotheque -- which is what it was. In fact, it’s still as much lounge as eatery, so it’s best to arrive early if you want a relatively DJ-free eating experience. A seductive mango-papaya BBQ sauce makes ribs a tasty choice any night, but most local diners in the know come on nights when the restaurant features irresistibly priced seasonal seafood specials (all-you-can-eat stone crabs one night, lobster on another). A spacious dining counter overlooking the cooks makes the Kitchen a comfortable spot for singles. $$$
17875 Collins Ave.
You can’t help feeling optimistic about a tourist town’s food scene when its resort restaurants, which generally walk the middle of the road, get creative. And it doesn’t get much more creative than this stylish restaurant and Italian market, which bills itself as a trip to an Italian-inspired “little market square,” but which, along with artisanal salumi plus pizzas and pastas, serves sushi. Particularly tasty: the native Neapolitan pizza chef’s truffled taleggio and mushroom pies; meltingly tender braised short ribs; an impeccable market-driven meat and cheese platter. $$$
St. Petersburg Deli
17080 Collins Ave.
Don’t expect fancified stuff like menus, or the English language, at this informal market/cafe. If there’s signage identifying the prepared foods behind the counters, it’s in Russian, and daily dishes are pretty much what the cooks feel like making. So look and point. We’d suggest pointing at cold yogurt-based soups like tangy okroshka (with cukes, egg, scallions, potatoes, and dill) or holodnik (similar, with beets added); eggplant roulades, stuffed with spiced shredded carrots, are also a refreshing summer dish. Hot choices include meatballs in rich cream sauce and chicken Kiev. $$
17624 Collins Ave.
Since opening in 2003, the inventive yet clean and unfussy Italian/Mediterranean-inspired seasonal food at this hot spot, created by chef/owner Tim Andriola (at the time best known for his stints at Chef Allen’s and Mark’s South Beach), has been garnering local and national raves. Don’t bother reading them. Andriola’s dishes speak for themselves: a salad of crisp oysters atop frisée, cannelloni bean, and pancetta; foie gras crostini with a subtle caramelized orange sauce; a blue crab raviolo with toasted pignolias and brown butter; or a wood-oven three-cheese "white" pizza. $$$-$$$$
Werner Staub’s Peppermill
350 Bayview Dr.
It’ll likely be years until diners stop instinctively heading for the tropic-alpine chalet that formerly housed the Peppermill at the Waterways in Aventura. But this new indoor/outdoor space’s bay views are much more spectacular. And the food is the same unique old-school stuff. Seafood is featured, and while there are contemporary preparations, you can’t resist hard-to-find retro dishes like imported Dover sole almondine, Swiss-style poached trout with champagne-shallot sauce, an elaborate steak tartar, and for dessert, peach Melba or strawberries Romanoff. $$$