Apples are a symbol of good health as well as temptation, and Malus on the Bay, named for the apple’s genus, offers both healthy and seductive dishes. Whole wheat pastas and quinoa polenta share the menu with rib-eye steak and crème brulee, all enjoyed al fresco with a water view that’s hard to resist.Manager William Ltaif was hired a few months ago to revamp the space. He grew up in Miami cooking with his Uruguayan dad, who is of Lebanese descent, and his Chilean mom, who worked as a restaurant cook. Chubby in his teens, Ltaif began working out and eating healthy. He went on to study nutrition at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute in Gainesville and become a personal trainer with a corporate wellness center in Doral. Argentine-born chef Mario Vilche, who worked for Douglas Rodriguez at OLA and Sergio Sigala at Casa Tua, favors bold Mediterranean flavors. Start with jumbo, pan-seared scallops on creamy spinach or salmon tartare mixed with bits of sun-dried tomato, capers and black olives and garnished with salmon roe. Watercress salad is tossed with candied walnuts, crispy shallots, and goat cheese in mustard orange vinaigrette. A thick baton of poached salmon is dressed in lemon-caviar sauce and swims in a bowl of fish stock with roasted grape tomatoes, lima beans and purple potato gnocchi. Peruvian caigua (hollow gourds) with a mild zucchini taste are stuffed with chopped veggies and ricotta and pooled in tomato sauce. Silky panna cotta with fresh berries drizzled in balsamico is sinful but worth it. Have an apple tomorrow. Linda Bladholm’s latest book is “Latin and Caribbean Grocery Stores Demystified.”
If you go
What: Malus on the Bay
Address: 11 Island Ave., Belle Island, Miami Beach
Contact: 305-532-6397, malusrestaurant.com
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, 5:30-10:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Prices: Appetizers $4.95-$9.95, salads $7.95-$9.95, entrees $11.95-$21.95.
FYI: Ltaif and his chef have developed a healthy takeout service, Smart Bites to Go; smartbitestogo.com, 305-894-6325
Penne Pasta with Pesto
Serve with poached fish and a tossed green salad.
16-ounces penne pasta (regular or whole grain)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1/4 cup pesto, homemade or store-bought
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente; drain. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic until pale golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in salt, pepper, cream, pesto and Parmesan. Stir in pasta and cook a few minutes until coated with sauce. Makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Allrecipes.com.
Per Serving: 540 calories (47 percent from fat), 28 g fat (11.6 g saturated, 9.6 g monounsaturated), 60.3 mg cholesterol, 12.8 g protein, 60 g carbohydrates, 2.8 g fiber, 148 mg sodium.