Food at Red Velvet in Sunny Isles goes way beyond froyo

Red Velvet photos by Linda Bladholm for the Miami Herald

Sure, you can get frozen yogurt at Red Velvet Bistro, but it would be a shame not to try the home-style fare from a country that was once part of the Soviet Union. 

There are Georgian breads, dumplings, soups, salads and stews as well as Russian chicken salad with radish and dill, crepes with salmon caviar and kebabs.

Chef Veriko Zhvania and her brother Lasha (pictured) do the cooking and grew up in a big family in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, situated on the southern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. Their parents run a restaurant back home, and the family always cooked together. 

After winning the green card lottery, Veriko and her husband went to New York. But, after a vacation in Miami, they moved to Sunny Isles Beach. Veriko met Venezuelan-born Daniel Pueyo through a mutual friend and they partnered, adding Georgian dishes to the menu three months ago.

Georgians call their country Sakartvelo and refer to themselves as Kartveli, but because of their long association with the Roman soldier and martyr Saint George, they are called Georgians. The cuisine uses dried spices, including crushed safflower, fenugreek and ombalo, a wild mint.

Try the badridzhani nigvsit, bringing fried slices of eggplant rolled up in walnut pesto and sprinkled with parsley and pomegranate seeds with khachapuri, puffy canoe-shaped bread with an egg baked in the center. Mchadi is corn bread, good with lobio (kidney bean salad).

Ajapsandali is eggplant stew with peppers, carrots and onions and chkmeruli is pan-fried chicken served in garlic-walnut sauce. It is as delicious as the food descriptions in a Nikolai Gogol book.

Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer. 

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