The goods: Douglas Rodriguez tackles the fruits of the sea with his latest Havana-esque supper club, De Rodriguez Ocean. Known for revolutionizing Latin staples at his two other Miami restaurants OLA and D. Rodriguez Cuba, the Cuban chef is revamping the New England fish shack in his latest venture.
The Vibe: Located off the lobby of the Hilton Bentley Hotel, the oceanfront space (formerly Gaia features wooden mermaids, lush tropical plants and a 25-foot ceviche and raw bar. A dark wood ceiling casts a sexy dim lighting while cushy blue chairs and a marble bar lend a posh air to the vast space. There’s plenty of outdoor seating on the hotel’s pool patio which faces the ocean, a good option on breezy nights.
The grub: Latin-influenced seafood. All seafood is sourced from environmentally-friendly purveyors and the raw bar features a dozen ceviches, oysters, clams and lobster and shrimp cocktails. Dinner starts with a basket of cassava chips and a tuna dipping sauce made with mayo and pureed capers. Begin with a ceviche sampler – choose from organic Peruvian blue tilapia with grapefruit and mint or tuna watermelon with kumquats and Thai Basil – then move on to more decadent pursuits like the Corvina a la Macho, the fish pan seared and topped aji Amarillo and seafood sauce.
Creative small plates include the smoked marlin tacos in malanga tortillas and charred pardon peppers, similar to the Japanese shisito peppers bar snack. Mains include a whole roasted branzino and adobo-dusted seared tuna. Vegans will rejoice at yucca gnocchi with mushroom Bolognese while non-fish lovers can opt for braised short ribs or grilled organic chicken breast. Prices reflect the South Beach locale: starters average $14 and mains are $19-$32. Desserts include a deconstructed carrot cake and the York Pepper Mint Daddy, a chilled Altoid mousse topped with bittersweet chocolate sauce.
The Verdict: A vast array of ceviches and seafood gems presented in a sexy setting from Miami’s Latin food czar.