I took visiting family last weekend to three Miami-Dade restaurants that each received a 3.5-star Miami Herald/Miami.com review in the past year: 27 Restaurant & Bar in Miami Beach, Josh’s Deli in Surfside and Proof Pizza & Pasta in midtown Miami.
They’re not fancy. They’re not flashy. They just serve really great food with attentive service and don’t charge an arm and a leg for either.
At least, that’s what we liked when we reviewed them. How does the food and service stand up months after the critics have said what they had to say?
I’m happy to report that, in my eyes, none of these restaurants has missed a beat. If we had to re-review them based on their performances this weekend, all would undoubtably maintain their 3.5 stars.*
A closer look at each:
27 Restaurant & Bar: 2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach. Reviewed: February 2015. Ordered on Friday: Gabe’s Arepas (pictured), Bubbie’s Latkes, Roasted Beets, Yellowtail Crudo, Griot & Pickliz, Softshell Crab, Up in Smoke cocktail.
The restaurant inside the Freehand Miami hostel and adjacent to the Broken Shaker cocktail patio continues to be the most Miami restaurant in Miami. The food is a brilliant hodgepodge of South Florida ethnic foods, constructed with locally sourced and seasonally relevant ingredients that give everything a deep-rooted sense of place. Servers really give a damn about what they’re doing, and they’re all so nice you want to push out a chair and ask them to sit with you. Cocktails can’t be ignored at the Shaker’s sibling, and the Up in Smoke (with smoked strawberries, amaro and rye) is my favorite drink in all the land.
Josh’s Deli: 9517 Harding Ave., Surfside. Reviewed: June 2014. Ordered on Saturday: Latkes with Spicy Tuna, Softshell Crab Shawarma (pictured), Cherry French Toast, Gooseneck Barnacles with Baby Octopus and Sausage and Grits, Fresh OJ.
Josh Marcus’ little deli that could was impossibly busy on Saturday morning — every counter seat taken, full tables, people standing at the door. There was one server on duty, and just Josh and his sous chef on the line in the teensy open kitchen. You’d think the waitress would be frazzled as hell and the food orders backed up like water to a dam. Not here. The waitress was smiling, plates were flying out of the ktichen, and my G-d what other South Florida deli serves fresh softshell crab with curry tzatziki and cucumber-tomato salad on pita?
Proof Pizza & Pasta: 3328 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Reviewed: January 2015. Ordered on Saturday: Burrata with Pesto, Peaches with Ricotta and Speck, Salumi Pizza (pictured), White Pizza, Tomato Fettuccine, Corn-Mushroom Agnolotti, Blueberry Macaron-Corn Ice Cream Sandwich, Passion Fruit-Mango Doughnuts, Cigar City Guayabera Pale Ale.
The Proof team rotated a few summer specials onto the menu. It’s always interesting to see how restaurants try to incorporate seasonality into subtropical Miami. That usually means mango relishes and purees in the hands of the less creative. Proof’s methods are more thoughtful but not complicated, and the result is summer on a plate: Sliced Georgia peaches beautifully arranged with a drizzle of maple vinegar and crumbles of speck; fettuccine stained red from its tomato-based dough and tossed with a sweet-savory tomato-eggplant jam; corn ice cream sandwiched in an oversize blueberry macaron with a dusting of sweet corn powder.
* Note: As I was off the clock and on my own dime, these were not official review meals, nor was I looking to add or deduct stars from any of the places we visited. It was a personal eating weekend, and I was happily impressed by the high level of execution across the board that I thought it warranted a post.