I admit it...I'm a fan of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations". So, although I had a chance to have a glass of wine and chat with him and his wife inside DeVito about his Puerto Rico episode (I was born and raised in la isla del encanto), I wanted to know more. Does he come to Miami to have an empanada at a hole in the wall, or does he just come relax?
And while Mario Batali let us venture into the kitchen, it didn't feel right to do anything but watch as he cooked up a storm with Jamie Oliver. It was time to chat it up with them in a laid-back setting. But where?
According to Sebastian, It was time to venture out to where the cooks REALLY hang out to ask them some questions about their favorite Miami spots...the back alley.
Seb was right...we found them all sipping on wine, some having a quick smoke and relaxing after a busy night at the back alley, and I found myself strangely enjoying the setting which reminded me of old friends catching up over drinks at an outdoor Old San Juan bar.
According to Anthony Bourdain, there's nothing he loves about Miami more than the fact that variety is the spice of life.
"There's so many people from someplace else in this city," he said. "People come here from all over South America and the Caribbean, so there's that influence. Here I'm a vegetable, it's all about hanging out with my family."
Hang out where, exactly? According to wife, Octavia Bourdain, they stay at the Raleigh hotel and visit some very local spots for food and drink, like a certain South Beach Mexican eatery.
"We go to San Loco for the burritos," she said.
And where does Bourdain like to have a cold one while in Miami? According to him and Octavia, it's definitely a certain gritty bar in South Beach made famous by Miami Vice for location shooting in the late 80's.
"Club Deuce," he said.
"We love to go there and just talk to locals," said Octavia.
When I asked Mario Batali what his favorite restaurant is in Miami, he shouted a certain North Bay Village Argentine establishment excitedly almost as quickly as I asked him.
"Las Vacas Gordas!", he said. "It's my favorite place. They have amazing steak. I also love Emeril's in South Beach."
When asked what makes Italian food so popular, Batali said its simplicity.
"The important aspect is the addition of olive oil," he said. "No matter where you are in the world, you can have italian food and it makes sense, bringing people together."
And proved by the packed house at DeVito's and my yet full stomach, I agreed.
Photo: Sebastian Dominguez