Miami Spice Report Cards: Grading the Restaurants, Part 2
Our crack team of undercover Miami Spice diners dishes on restaurant experiences.
Throughout Miami Spice, our Miami Herald and Miami.com team is spreading out across the county to bring you the highlights and lowlights.
Here's Part 2 of our Miami Spice Report Cards series (see Part 1 here), which includes high-end Milos, Italian favorite Macchialina, Lincoln Road hotspot Meat Market, and hotel gems Restaurant Michael Schwartz and Cecconi's.
Our grading scale:
A: What a meal! What a deal!
B: I'd go back.
C: Mostly "meh."
D: Try again next year.
F: Stinks at Spice.
6. Cecconi's at Soho Beach House
4385 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-507-7902
Dined on: Aug. 18
Can't-miss dish: Pizzetta with San Daniele prosciutto, figs and gorgonzola
Mini review: At Cecconi's, lunch-goers are invited to dine inside the stately lobby area or under the beautiful trees and sunlight in the main dining room. The Spice lunch menu is offered weekdays and features dishes portioned for midday. Choose from four appetizers: carpaccio, gnocchi, ahi tuna tartare and kale salad. The latter is surprisingly delicious with chunks of fresh mango and shreds of ricotta (aged with a hint of salt) over a bed of hearty kale. It's nearly impossible to say no to the San Daniele pizzetta, made with a soft prosciutto from the Friuli-Venezia Giuli region of Italy. The delicate ham dovetails nicely with the sweetness from the figs and the salty bite you get from the Italian cheese. We were satisfied with our dessert, a pineapple tart. (BY GALENA MOSOVICH)
820 Alton Rd., Miami Beach; 305-534-2124
Dined on: Aug. 16
Can’t-miss dish: Tagliolini al funghi
Mini review: If you want to take advantage of Miami Spice here, you need to make sure the rest of your party is on board, because the Spice menu must be ordered family-style. Bummer for my companion, who only wanted wagyu tartare. You get four courses — pick two appetizers, two first-course dishes, one entree and one dessert — six items in all. A wine pairing is available for $25. Our first round consisted of burrata and arancini; nothing new, but a consistent delivery of flavors. Moving into the second, we ordered the light and crunchy broccolini cesare and, because it's not on the regular menu, local cabalaza with prosciutto, shallots, long beans and compressed melon. Entrees feature two pastas, fish and steak, and it's the tagliolini al funghi with abalone mushrooms in a delightful truffle and parmigiano sauce that shouldn't be missed. It’s a fine representation of chef-owner Michael Pirolo’s (formerly of Scarpetta) talent when it comes to Italian cooking. Dessert wasn't our favorite, but we still ate the entire thing. A better decision than Spice would be to shell out $10 more a person for Pirolo's tasting menu: five courses for $50. Like Spice, it must be ordered for the entire table. (BY CARLA TORRES)
8. Restaurant Michael Schwartz
1775 Collins Ave. (at the Raleigh), Miami Beach; 305-612-1163
Dined on: Aug. 13
Can’t-miss dish: Florida Cioppino
Mini review: Your best play here is to go on a Saturday for lunch, taking advantage of The Raleigh’s glorious pool. The Spice menu at RMS reflects Michael Schwartz's genuine approach to food. A rock shrimp po’boy with savoy cabbage and chili aioli sounds appetizing, as does the refreshing grilled peach salad with hickory almonds, shaved jalapeño and a honey-bourbon vinaigrette. But I can never pass up a lamb carpaccio: spherical slices of raw meat arrive topped with lemon confit and sprinkles of feta. The Florida cioppino entree with a coconut broth and ginger-lime aioli was stimulating, swimming with head-on prawn, clams, grouper and squid. For dessert, we enjoyed roasted white chocolate bread pudding. Our only complaint was that we wish there had been more — it was that good. (BY CARLA TORRES)
9. Meat Market
915 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-532-0088
Dined on: Aug. 11
Can’t-miss dish: Soup of the day
Mini review: Perhaps it would be a better move to order a la carte when visiting Meat Market than to go for the Miami Spice menu, which are laden with upgrade charges. Somewhat boring appetizer options — short rib empanadas, caprese salad — nudged us toward the soup, which changes daily. On our day, it was lobster miso bisque with kale, which pleasantly contained more spice and lobster than we had expected. Mains include a quinoa avocado salad, buffalo burger, sesame-crusted chicken breast and pan-roasted salmon. A burger ordered medium-rare came thoroughly cooked on an overcharred bun. For dessert, a cinnamon sponge cake drowned in chocolate gazpacho was all right, but not worth the calories. For a real taste of Meat Market, order a la carte. (BY CARLA TORRES)
10. Estiatorio Milos by Costas Spiliadis
730 First St., Miami Beach; 305-604-6800
Dined on: Aug. 11
Can’t-miss dish: Lamb Chops
Mini review: Skip lunch — Milos already has a year-round lunch offering that's a steal for $25 — and put dinner here at the top of your Spice list. Charcoal-grilled Mediterranean octopus with gigante bean puree is a return hit from last year: perfectly charred and paired with bell peppers and diced mushrooms. Cod fritters or a duo of sashimi and tartare are the other saltwater appetizer alternatives, but there’s also a tomato salad to please simpler palates. The entree winners are dorado royale and lamb chops. Order your lamb medium-rare and savor every bite of the juicy charbroiled chops. (Milos is a fancy place, so be sure to display the utmost grace when sucking these chops clean.) If you think you’ve had Greek yogurt, think again. Milos “real Greek yogurt” is dreamily creamy and drenched in thyme honey. You'll never think of Greek yogurt the same again. (BY CARLA TORRES)
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