The goods: Chefs Sandra Stefani (Casa Toscana) and Ines Chattas (Icebox Café) have opened Open Kitchen, a quaint bistro and catering kitchen in Bay Harbor Islands. The tiny storefront doubles as a lunch café and small gourmet market stocked with Italian pasta, truffle oil, sun-dried tomatoes, boutique wines and beer and a robust take-home menu.
The grub: Italian and American comfort food. Prices are neighborhood-friendly with sandwiches and salads averaging $10 and mains $13-$15. Sandwiches include a pork belly BLT and turkey meatloaf with chunky tomato basil sauce. Pasta of the day could be orecchiette with arugula pesto topped with fresh mozzarella while heartier main dishes include roasted chicken and braised short ribs and sides are healthy servings of quinoa, pink lentil salad and roasted vegetables.
The family-style take-out catering menu includes hefty pans of meatloaf, grilled chicken and ponzu-marinated fish. Make sure to try the homemade chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, made with a light touch.
Verdict: A cheerful gourmet bistro and market helmed by the former Casa Toscana chef.
FYI: Stefani conducts her trademark Saturday morning cooking classes, where she teaches how to make homemade pasta and rustic Italian dishes, then hosts a four-course sit-down meal with students.