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
$$$$$= $50 and over
Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza
17901 Biscayne Blvd.
Coal is what it’s all about here -- a coal-fired oven (like that at Lombardi’s, Patsy’s, John’s, or Grimaldi’s in New York) producing the intense 800-degree heat to turn out, in mere minutes, a pie with the classic thin, crisp-bottomed, beautifully char-bubbled crust that fans of the above legendary pizzerias crave. Expect neither bargain-chain prices, a huge selection of toppings, nor much else on the menu. Anthony’s does just a few things, and does them right. $$
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. $$
18729 Biscayne Blvd.
Hard as it is for old-time NYC expats to believe, there’s evidently a younger generation that doesn’t equate the Jewish deli experience with loudmouthed servers and the smell of 75 years of fermenting pickle juice in the flooring. This cleanly contemporary place attracts this younger generation with the full range of classics, including many varieties of hand-sliced smoked fish, but also healthy options, most notably a wide array of substantial salads with grilled protein add-ons. Bagels, while machine-made rather than hand-rolled, are freshly baked all day. $$
19575 Biscayne Blvd. Aventura Mall ,
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. $$-$$$
19999 W. Country Club Dr.
(Fairmont Hotel, Turnberry Resort)786-279-0658
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. $$$$$
18139 Biscayne Blvd.
It’s not surprising that this Florida-based “better burger” franchise is one of America’s fastest-growing. With décor that’s relaxingly retro yet futuristically earth-friendly (think recycled Coke bottle chairs), beverages ranging from milkshakes to craft beers, and sourced hormone/antibiotic-free, grass-fed Angus burgers on branded buns, for prices rivaling those for fast-food junkburgers, what’s not to love? There are also vegetarian quinoa burgers or Kobe dogs, plus “accessories” including hand-cut fries, killer crisp-battered onion rings, freshly made, all-natural frozen custard, and toppings galore. $
Village at Gulfstream Park
921 Silks Run Rd. #1615
It’s hard to decide if the most fun interpretation of beef here is the weekend prime rib dinner special (with two sides and a meat hunk hefty enough for sandwiches the next day) or the mechanical bull. Party like it’s 1980 at this all-American restolounge/sports bar, which includes two outdoor patios with fire pits and, sometimes, live rootsy music. If you miss out on the roast beef (it goes fast), there are burgers, steaks, meal-size salads, and classic bar bites. $$-$$$
Café Bistro @ Nordstrom
19507 Biscayne Blvd. #15
In the days before quick-bite food courts, upscale department stores had their own real restaurants, civilized oases where “Ladies Who Lunch” took leisurely respite from shopping. In today’s “Women Who Work” times, those restaurants (and privileged ladies) are anachronisms, but this room, hidden on Nordstrom’s second floor, is a relaxing time-trip back. Enjoy creamy crab bisque, extravagant salads (shrimp with cilantro-lime dressing; pear, blue cheese, and candied walnuts with cherry balsamic vinaigrette), or a retro-modern club sandwich. Organic ingredients from local purveyors are emphasized. $$$·
19048 NE 29th Ave.
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). $$
2775 NE 187th St., Suite #1, 305-932-8080
A people-pleasing menu of typical Thai and Japanese dishes, plus some appealing contemporary creations (like the Spicy Crunchy Tuna Roll, an inside-out tuna/avocado/tempura maki, topped with more tuna and served with a luscious creamy cilantro sauce) has made this eatery a longtime favorite. But vegetarians -- for whom seafood-based condiments can make Asian foods a minefield -- might want to add the place to their “worth a special drive” list, thanks to chefs’ winning ways with tofu and all-around accommodation to veg-only diets. $$-$$$
The Grill on the Alley
19501 Biscayne Blvd. (Aventura Mall)
Ensconced in a leather booth, with dark hardwood everywhere and a massive bar dispensing two-fisted drinks, you’d never know you were dining in a shopping mall -- or in the new millennium. This upscale mini chain salutes America’s great grill restaurants of yesteryear, with prodigious portions of charbroiled meats and seafood, plus classics like creamy chicken pot pie. New retro dishes are added quarterly, but our favorite remains Sunday night’s prime rib special: a $32 hunk of juicy beef that’ll take care of Monday’s meals too. $$$$$
2576 NE Miami Gardens Dr.
This attractive trattoria gets the food right, as well as the ambiance. As in Italy, dishes rely on impeccable ingredients and straightforward recipes that don’t overcomplicate, cover up, or otherwise muck about with that perfection. Fresh fettuccine with white truffle oil and mixed wild mushrooms needs nothing else. Neither does the signature Pollo Al Mattone, marinated in herbs and cooked under a brick. And even low-carb dieters happily go to hell in a hand basket when faced with a mound of potatoes alla Toscana, herb-sprinkled French fries. $$-$$$
3565 NE 207th St.
At this longtime neighborhood favorite Japanese/Thai restaurant, many come just for the slightly pricy but very generous sushi specialties. Most makis are cooked, but for raw-fish fans the tempura-flake-topped crunchy tuna/avocado roll with spicy mayo, and tuna both inside and out, is a people-pleaser. Don’t neglect Thai specialties, though, especially red and green curries customizable as to heat (mild, medium, hot, and authentic “Thai hot”). And for a bargain light lunch, try tonjiru, miso soup jazzed up with veggies and pork. $$-$$$
La Estancia Argentina
17870 Biscayne Blvd.
At this market/restaurant, there’s a small but quality selection of Argentine grocery staples and wines, plus a butcher counter where backyard BBQers can find everything necessary for a parrillada party. Alternatively, grab a table and let La Estancia do the cooking -- anything from tapas and elegant miga mini-tea sandwiches to hefty grilled parrillada plates. Most irresistible, though, are the savory and sweet baked goods, especially elaborately frosted layer cakes and delicately crusted empanadas plumply stuffed with hand-cut flank steak, mushrooms in onion sauce, much more. $-$$
19088 NE 29th Ave.
In the space that once housed Chef Allen’s, this trattoria offers a crowd-pleasing combination: décor with white-tablecloth elegance, yet the family-friendly feel of a classic checkered-tablecloth eatery -- and Italian-American comfort food to match. Highlights: Mickey’s Meatballs (named for owner Mickey Maltese), a meal-size marinara-sauced starter featuring whipped ricotta and creamy mascarpone; veal Bella Luca, mixing modern and traditional influences via a hefty breadcrumb-coated pan-fried chop with a topping of bracing balsamic reduction-dressed mesclun. $$$
Mo’s Bagels & Deli
2780 NE 187th St., 305-936-8555
While the term "old school" is used a lot to describe this spacious (160-seat) establishment, it actually opened in 1995. It just so evokes the classic NY delis we left behind that it seems to have been here forever. Example: Lox and nova aren’t pallid, prepackaged fish, but custom-sliced from whole slabs. And bagels are hand-rolled, chewy champions, not those machine-made puffy poseurs. As complimentary pastry bites suggest, and the massive size of the succulent, sufficiently fatty pastrami sandwiches confirm, generous Jewish Mo(m) spirit shines here. $$
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.” $$-$$$
20475 Biscayne Blvd.
Chef/owner Scott Fredel previously worked for Norman Van Aken and Mark Militello. He has been executive chef at Rumi, and cooked at NYC’s James Beard House. Armed with those impressive credentials, Fredel and his wife launched Pilar (named for Hemingway’s boat) aiming to prove that top restaurants can be affordable. Consider it proven. Floribbean-style seafood is the specialty: fresh hearts of palm slaw and Caribbean curry sauce, rock shrimp spring rolls with sweet soy glaze, yellowtail snapper with tomato-herb vinaigrette. Forget its strip-mall location. The restaurant itself is elegant. $$-$$$
19090 NE 29th Ave.
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. $$
20475 Biscayne Blvd.
Don’t think that square-shaped doughy pizza is the specialty here. “Oven” is really the operative word, referring to the open kitchen’s impressive-looking, open-flame wood-burner, and for our money the place’s thin-crusted pies are the way to go. Toppings, applied amply, range from traditional Italian-American (like made-in-Wisconsin Grande mozzarella) to popular (fresh mozz, even balsamic glaze); crust options include whole grain and gluten-free. Other must-haves: arancini (deep-fried rice balls stuffed with mozz and ground beef) and cervellata sausage with broccoli rabe. $$·
Soho Asian Bar & Grill
19004 NE 29th St.
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. $$-$$$
19575 Biscayne Blvd.
(See Miami / Upper Eastside listing)