The Biscayne Times

Thursday
Dec 12th
Aventura/Hallandale PDF Print E-mail

Restaurant listings for the BT Dining Guide are written by Geoffrey Anderson and Dianne Rubin of Miami Food Pug (MFP), Andrew McLees (AM), Mandy Baca (MB), and the late Pamela Robin Brandt (PRB) ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, but restaurants frequently change menus, chefs, and operating hours, so 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.


$ = $10 and under
$$ = $20
$$$ = $30
$$$$ = $40
$$$$$ = $50 and over




Amaize
19129 Biscayne Blvd.
786-279-2260
You come to Amaize for one thing only: an arepa. At this fast-casual establishment, the popular Venezuelan/Colombian corn-meal pockets can be customized with different proteins and other fillings. Those new to arepas should try a classic Mechado Mix (shredded beef, black beans, baked plantains, and shredded white cheese), which serves as a satisfying introduction. Other more out-of-the-box selections include the Shaggy (pulled beef and gouda) and the Beauty Queen (avocado chicken salad). Order them all if you want; they’re only $6-$9 each. $ (MFP)


Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza
17901 Biscayne Blvd.
305-830-2625
www.anthonyscoalfiredpizza.com
Coal is what it’s all about here -- a coal-fired oven (like that at Lombardi’s, Patsy’s, John’s, or Grimaldi’s in New York) producing the intense 800-degree heat to turn out, in mere minutes, a pie with the classic thin, crisp-bottomed, beautifully char-bubbled crust that fans of the above legendary pizzerias crave. Expect neither bargain-chain prices, a huge selection of toppings, nor much else on the menu. Anthony’s does just a few things, and does them right. $$ (PRB)


Bagel Cove Restaurant & Deli
19003 Biscayne Blvd.
305-935-4029
One word: flagels. And no, that’s not a typo. Rather these crusty, flattened specimens (poppy seed or sesame seed) are the ultimate bagel/soft pretzel hybrid -- and a specialty at this bustling Jewish bakery/deli, which, since 1988, opens at 6:30 a.m. -- typically selling out of flagels in a couple of hours. Since you’re up early anyway, sample elaborately garnished breakfast specials, including unusually flavorful homemade corned beef hash and eggs. For the rest of the day, multitudes of mavens devour every other delectable deli specialty known to humankind. $$ (PRB)


bartaco
2906 NE 207th St., Ste. 104
305-614-8226
Taco lovers can now satisfy their Mexican food craving at bartaco. Inside this Aventura ParkSquare eatery, guests can enjoy creative tacos with uncommon yet tasty fillings like glazed pork belly, roasted duck, and crispy brussels sprouts. Despite the name, bartaco doesn’t skimp on non-tortilla selections. Other highlights on the menu include tuna poke, street corn fritters, roasted chicken, and rice bowls. Thirsty? Check out the seasonal caipirinha or signature margarita to cool off. $-$$ (MFP)


Bella Luna
19575 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura Mall
305-792-9330
www.bellalunaaventura.com
If the menu here looks familiar, it should. It’s nearly identical to that at the Upper Eastside’s Luna Café and, with minor variations, at all the rest of Tom Billante’s eateries (Rosalia, Villaggio, Carpaccio), right down to the typeface. But no argument from here. In a mall – a setting more accustomed to food court – dishes like carpaccio al salmone (crudo, with portobellos, capers, parmesan slices, and lemon/tomato dressing) and linguine carbonara (in creamy sauce with pancetta and shallots) are a breath of fresh, albeit familiar, air. $$-$$$ (PRB)


Bourbon Steak
19999 W. Country Club Dr. (Turnberry Isle Miami)
786-279-0658
www.michaelmina.net
At Bourbon Steak, a venture in the exploding restaurant empire of chef Michael Mina, a multiple James Beard award winner, steakhouse fare is just where the fare starts. There are also Mina’s ingenious signature dishes, like an elegant deconstructed lobster/baby vegetable pot pie, a raw bar, and enough delectable vegetable/seafood starters and sides for noncarnivores to assemble a happy meal. But don’t neglect the steak — flavorful dry-aged Angus, 100-percent Wagyu American “Kobe,” swoonworthy grade A5 Japanese Kobe, and butter-poached prime rib, all cooked to perfection. $$$$$ (PRB)


Buffalo Wild Wings
18721 Biscayne Blvd.
305-962-9995
Like all locations of this renowned national sports bar/grill chain -- originated in 1982, when two fans of Buffalo-style chicken wings couldn’t find any in Ohio -- Aventura’s “B-Dubs” features an astonishing array of HD TVs (64), beers, and, naturally, wings: almost two dozen sauce and dry-rub choices, from a chili-spiked buttery original flavor to Asian, Caribbean, Italian, and beyond. Additionally, there’s a full menu of burgers, salads, flatbreads, and other All-American classics. An outdoor patio and WiFi tablets loaded with games contribute considerably to kid-friendliness. $$ (PRB)


BurgerFi
18139 Biscayne Blvd.
305-466-0350
It’s not surprising that this Florida-based “better burger” franchise is one of America’s fastest-growing. With décor that’s relaxingly retro yet futuristically earth-friendly (think recycled Coke bottle chairs), beverages ranging from milkshakes to craft beers, and sourced hormone/antibiotic-free, grass-fed Angus burgers on branded buns, for prices rivaling those for fast-food junkburgers, what’s not to love? There are also vegetarian quinoa burgers or Kobe dogs, plus “accessories” including hand-cut fries, killer crisp-battered onion rings, freshly made, all-natural frozen custard, and toppings galore. $ (PRB)


Café Bistro @ Nordstrom
19507 Biscayne Blvd. #15
305-937-7267
In the days before quick-bite food courts, upscale department stores had their own real restaurants, civilized oases where “Ladies Who Lunch” took leisurely respite from shopping. In today’s “Women Who Work” times, those restaurants (and privileged ladies) are anachronisms, but this room, hidden on Nordstrom’s second floor, is a relaxing time-trip back. Enjoy creamy crab bisque, extravagant salads (shrimp with cilantro-lime dressing; pear, blue cheese, and candied walnuts with cherry balsamic vinaigrette), or a retro-modern club sandwich. Organic ingredients from local purveyors are emphasized. $$$ (PRB)


Casa D’Angelo
2906 NE 207th St.
305-699-5500
Casa D’Angelo has made a name for itself in Fort Lauderdale, and now it’s doing the same in Aventura. Chef Angelo Elia’s namesake restaurant isn’t redefining Italian food -- it’s just perfecting it. Calamari, burrata, and octopus are all common sights on restaurant menus, but they’re all done so well here. Same for the pastas: the pappardelle and gnocchi will have your taste buds dancing. Succulent meat and fish options like veal medallions and branzino shouldn’t be ignored either. $$-$$$ (MFP)


Chicken Guy
19565 Biscayne Blvd. Ste. 2946
305-428-2444
Chicken Guy from celebrity chef Guy Fieri is an ode to chicken tenders -- there’s not much else at this Aventura Mall establishment. Where you’ll find variety is the sauce selection: The brand prides itself on its 22 sauces. Appease your sweet tooth with wasabi honey or honey mustard, or spice things up with peri peri and curry mayo. Can’t decide? You can’t go wrong with Guy’s famous Donkey Sauce (mayo, roasted garlic, mustard, Worcestershire, and lemon). $ (MFP)


Corsair

19999 W. Country Club Dr. (Turnberry Isle Miami)
786-279-6800
Celeb chef Scott Conant has moved on, but Corsair remains a lively place. Lately they’ve been promoting their Saturday and Sunday brunches, every week of the year, along with special events tied to holidays. But any day of the week, the restaurant’s patio is the place to be, with its sweeping views of Turnberry Isle’s lushly landscaped golf course. Full review coming soon. $$$-$$$$


CVI.CHE 105
19565 Biscayne Blvd.
786-516-2818
CVI.CHE 105 has made its way up north, opening a location inside Aventura Mall’s latest expansion. This is the Peruvian brand’s third restaurant, and it follows a tried-and-true formula: “Don’t mess with a good thing.” The ceviches, tiraditos, and other Peruvian fare that diners have fallen in love with are available here, including the ever-popular lomo saltado. The one major difference: Diners up north no longer have to make the trek to Brickell or Miami Beach. $$ (MFP)


Dr. Smood
19501 Biscayne Blvd.
786-334-4420
It’s no secret that dining out adds up -- both in terms of calories and costs. Dr. Smood is focused on controlling the former by providing customers with “Smart Food for a Good Mood.” That healthy motto has gotten the company far. This beautiful Aventura branch follows successful openings in Wynwood and South Miami. While Dr. Smood is mostly known for its juices and detox programs, this branch at Aventura Mall also provides visitors with grab-and-go grub befitting its setting. The free wireless internet here is the icing on the cake. $-$$ (MFP)


Etzel Itzik
18757 W. Dixie Hwy.
305-937-1546
Though this homey kosher oldtimer, self-described as a deli but really more of an Israeli/Middleterranean restaurant (think kebab on pita, not pastrami on rye), opened in 1997, it’s still something of a locals’ secret due to its location in a nondescript strip mall. But it’s worth seeking out even by diners not restricted by religious laws; food is both highly flavorful and hugely fun -- starting with the array of free veg appetizers that appear before you even order: herbed chickpeas, pickled salads, more. Especially recommended: shakshuka (eggs poached in complexly spiced and spicy chunky tomato sauce), a breakfast dish but available later, too. $-$$ (PRB)


Fresko
19048 NE 29th Ave.
786-272-3737
Forget thick, dough-wrapped potato knishes and blintzes slathered with sour cream. As its name suggests, this kosher dairy eatery eschews the starch/sugar-laden traditional favorites for salads, smoothies, and similar healthy fare as casual, clean, and contemporary as the restaurant’s décor. Asian-influenced items, like wakame-topped tuna tartare with pineapple chutney, are particularly appealing, while those craving classic combinations like smoked salmon and cream cheese can enjoy them on a light-crusted designer pizza. To drink, smoothies are supplemented by refreshing herbal infusions like green lemonade (with mint and basil). $$ (PRB)


Fuji Hana
2775 NE 187th St., Suite #1
305-932-8080
A people-pleasing menu of typical Thai and Japanese dishes, plus some appealing contemporary creations (like the Spicy Crunchy Tuna Roll, an inside-out tuna/avocado/tempura maki, topped with more tuna and served with a luscious creamy cilantro sauce) has made this eatery a longtime favorite. But vegetarians -- for whom seafood-based condiments can make Asian foods a minefield -- might want to add the place to their “worth a special drive” list, thanks to chefs’ winning ways with tofu and all-around accommodation to veg-only diets. $$-$$$ (PRB)


Genuine Pizza
19565 Biscayne Blvd. #956
786-472-9170
Local celebrity chef Michael Schwartz continues to grow his culinary empire with an Aventura location of his new Genuine Pizza concept, inside Aventura Mall. At first glance, the pizzeria’s menu may look familiar -- especially to fans of Harry’s Pizzeria down south. Genuine Pizza is Harry’s 2.0; all of the latter’s locations are being rebranded into GP. While the restaurant’s design has changed, the food hasn’t. Guests can still enjoy favorites like the rock shrimp pizza, polenta fries, and warm chocolate chunk cookies. $$ (MFP)


The Grill on the Alley
19501 Biscayne Blvd. (Aventura Mall)
305-466-7195
Ensconced in a leather booth, with dark hardwood everywhere and a massive bar dispensing two-fisted drinks, you’d never know you were dining in a shopping mall -- or in the new millennium. This upscale mini chain salutes America’s great grill restaurants of yesteryear, with prodigious portions of charbroiled meats and seafood, plus classics like creamy chicken pot pie. New retro dishes are added quarterly, but our favorite remains Sunday night’s prime rib special: a $32 hunk of juicy beef that’ll take care of Monday’s meals too. $$$$$ (PRB)


International Smoke
19565 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 946
786-254-0422
International Smoke -- a collaboration between television personality Ayesha Curry and chef Michael Mina -- takes barbecue seriously. The Aventura Mall establishment fuses American and international influences for a unique take on BBQ, a cuisine that Aventura sorely lacks. Get messy with the signature smoked St. Louis cut pork ribs and then dive into smoked Korean bone-in short rib, grilled Moroccan spiced lamb chops, and other mouthwatering bites from around the world -- all for much less than a plane ticket. $$-$$$$ (MFP)


La Estancia Argentina
17870 Biscayne Blvd.
305-932-6477
At this market/restaurant, there’s a small but quality selection of Argentine grocery staples and wines, plus a butcher counter where backyard BBQers can find everything necessary for a parrillada party. Alternatively, grab a table and let La Estancia do the cooking -- anything from tapas and elegant miga mini-tea sandwiches to hefty grilled parrillada plates. Most irresistible, though, are the savory and sweet baked goods, especially elaborately frosted layer cakes and delicately crusted empanadas plumply stuffed with hand-cut flank steak, mushrooms in onion sauce, much more. $-$$ (PRB)


Le Pain Quotidien
19565 Biscayne Blvd.
786-629-5056
At Le Pain Quotidien, diners get the best of both worlds. Those on the run can grab LPQ’s ready-to-go croissants, scones, and soups, while guests who’d rather sit back can enjoy hot dishes like croque monsieurs and crispy quinoa cakes at their leisure. Regardless, both types of diners should make it a point to order the bakery’s signature drinks, which range from healthy to downright decadent. The Belgian mocha -- available hot or iced -- is the perfect post-dinner treat. $-$$ (MFP)


Levy’s Shawarma
3575 NE 207th St.
305-974-4899
If you see a place named Levy’s Shawarma, it’s safe to say they serve shawarma. But at this Aventura fast-casual spot, the name doesn’t tell the entire story. Other Israeli delights abound here as well, such as matzah ball soup, schnitzel, chicken shishkabab, and lamb chops. For something more familiar, dig into the monstrous pastrami burger or some BBQ ribs. No matter what, save room for the heavenly chocolate babka. It’s perfect for sharing, but you won’t want to. $-$$$ (MFP)


The Little Beet
19501 Biscayne Blvd.
Floor 3, 305-359-5808
Guilt-free food does not mean flavor-free food at the Little Beet. The Aventura Mall establishment prides itself on its local, sustainable food sources, and it shows. The menu is composed of bowls, and there’s no shortage of options: nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan -- the list goes on. For starters, try some brown rice, throw in some beets and lentils, and finish off with braised pork and sweet chili garlic. The sheer number of choices means you’ll be coming back again (and again). $ (MFP)


Mo’s Bagels & Deli
2780 NE 187th St.
305-936-8555
While the term "old school" is used a lot to describe this spacious (160-seat) establishment, it actually opened in 1995. It just so evokes the classic NY delis we left behind that it seems to have been here forever. Example: Lox and nova aren’t pallid, prepackaged fish, but custom-sliced from whole slabs. And bagels are hand-rolled, chewy champions, not those machine-made puffy poseurs. As complimentary pastry bites suggest, and the massive size of the succulent, sufficiently fatty pastrami sandwiches confirm, generous Jewish Mo(m) spirit shines here. $$ (PRB)


Mr. Chef’s Fine Chinese Cuisine & Bar
18800 NE 29th Ave. #10
786-787-9030
Considering our county’s dearth of authentic Chinese food, this stylish eatery is heaven-sent for Aventura residents. Owners Jin Xiang Chen and Shu Ming (a.k.a. Mr. Chef) come from China’s southern seacoast province of Guangdong (Canton). But you’ll find no gloppily sauced, Americanized-Cantonese chop sueys here. Cooking is properly light-handed, and seafood specialties shine (try the spicy/crispy salt and pepper shrimp). For adventurers, there’s a cold jellyfish starter. Even timid taste buds can’t resist tender fried shrimp balls described this way: “With crispy adorable fringy outfit.” $$-$$$ (PRB) 


Pizza Roma
19090 NE 29th Ave.
305-937-4884
Despite its name, this homey hidden eatery serves not Rome’s wood-cooked, crunchy-crusted pizzas but New York-style pies with medium-thick crusts pliable enough to fold in half for neat street eating. Unlike chains, though, this indie is accommodating, so if you want your crust thin and crisp, just ask. Also featured are Italian-American entrées like baked manicotti (that’s “mani-goat”, for those not from NJ) big enough to share, and sub sandwiches, here called “bullets,” to put you in a Sopranos frame of mind. $$ (PRB)


Serafina
19565 Biscayne Blvd.#1944
786-920-0989
New York’s Serafina is now open at Aventura Mall, and this location is a pizza lover’s dream. Pies are a big part of the menu, which also includes a bevy of Italian classics and more creative fare. Skip the basic margherita and get the tartufo nero with black truffles -- your sense of adventure will pay off with this pizza that’s the very definition of richness. Also, save room for the panna cotta, whose simple description hides some mind-blowing flavor. $$-$$$ (MFP)


Sicilian Oven
20475 Biscayne Blvd.
305-682-1890
Don’t think that square-shaped doughy pizza is the specialty here. “Oven” is really the operative word, referring to the open kitchen’s impressive-looking, open-flame wood-burner, and for our money the place’s thin-crusted pies are the way to go. Toppings, applied amply, range from traditional Italian-American (like made-in-Wisconsin Grande mozzarella) to popular (fresh mozz, even balsamic glaze); crust options include whole grain and gluten-free. Other must-haves: arancini (deep-fried rice balls stuffed with mozz and ground beef) and cervellata sausage with broccoli rabe. $$ (PRB)


Soho Asian Bar & Grill
19004 NE 29th St.
305-466-5656
Do bring your pocket flashlight to this kosher restaurant. Considering the menu’s expansiveness, you’ll be doing lots of reading despite dim, lounge-lizard lighting. The stars here are small plates and over-the-top Asian fusion sushi rolls, like the Korean: short ribs atop a kimchee-garnished maki of puréed avocado, cuke, scallion, and sweet potato. But the menu of tapas and entrées ranges from Japanese-inspired items to pad Thai, Middle Eastern kabobs, Chinese-American pepper steak, even all-American grilled steaks. Highlights: signature fried cauliflower with chili sauce, and an appealing house nut bread with three spreads. $$-$$$ (PRB)


Sr. Ceviche
2576 NE Miami Gardens Dr.
786-440-7851
While northern Miami-Dade County has other Peruvian places, none serve award-winning ceviches like those of chef/co-owner Alonso Jordan, who took top honors at the first International Day of Ceviche festival. Varieties range from traditionally based (albeit with distinctive personal tweaks) flash-marinated raw fish preparations to contemporary creations like Lima-style fried ceviche, crisp-coated like jalea but sauced/garnished in ceviche’s more complex style; sampler platters feature several choices, and serve a small army. Also a standout on the full Peruvian menu: pescado a lo macho, precision-fried whole fish showered in an unusually luxurious assortment of seafood. $$-$$$ (PRB)


Sushi Siam
19575 Biscayne Blvd.
305-932-8955
(See Miami / Upper Eastside listing)


Texas de Brazil
800 Silks Run Rd. (Village at Gulfstream Park)
954-843-7600
Locations of this deservedly popular upscale Brazilian steakhouse chain have different décor but the same festive formula: rodizio, a service style that’s both dinner and a show.The prix-fixe experience starts with a 60-item “salad bar” (really a starters bar of varied hot and cold items beside the bunny food), in preparation for a parade of costumed gauchos wielding swords of all-you-can-eat, fire-grilled meats, which the cowboy/servers carve tableside till you cry uncle. Don’t miss the picanha, an especially succulent signature Brazilian steak cut, or house-baked cheese bread. $$$$$ (PRB)


Whole Foods Market
21105 Biscayne Blvd.
305-682-4400
(See Brickell / Downtown listing.)

 

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