Eating House, a precocious pop-up restaurant known for its innovative dishes, cool vibe, classic hip-hop music, and energetic staff, reopens on Saturday, Nov. 24 as the permanent home to rising star chef Giorgio Rapicavoli.
Located on the corner of 8th and Ponce in Coral Gables, Rapicavoli’s popular pop-up from February to September made foodies drool while they waited in line, sometimes for more than hour, to sit at one of his tiny tables for dinner. His unconventional “Wakin-N-Bacon Brunch” was even more popular with guests scrambling for Carbonara Eggs Benedict and Cap’n Crunch pancakes every Sunday.
At the ripe age of 27, Rapicavoli says he’s ready for the real deal – a permanent restaurant space. He chatted with Miami.com about the next chapter of Eating House.
So why did you choose Coral Gables?
This is something that Miami really wants. The area we are in is unique and it seems risky, but that’s great for us. What I want to do to Coral Gables is what Michael Schwartz did to the Design District five years ago.
My partners and I purchased the old Café Ponce space (a diner that was still operating during the day when we had the pop-up) with a 10-year option before starting an aggressive remodel that was oh-so-necessary about two months ago.
The whole plan was to do whatever we wanted, but we didn’t have any prep time with the pop-up and that was a crazy challenge. We were flying by the seat of our pants. Now, it’s going to be more grown-up and refined.
The paradoxical nature of your food is what many people find so stimulating and addictive. How would you describe your cooking style?
I don’t have a specific cooking style. We make everything in-house, grow our own fresh herbs, and use high-quality ingredients and mad-scientist equipment for just about everything we do. Sometimes we’ll throw in some Doritos or Dr. Pepper syrup into the mix. It’s a blend of being serious about food and having fun with it.
Tell us about your new partner and teammate in the kitchen.
Henry Hane and I are old friends. We went to Johnson & Wales University together and even ran our own catering company at one point. I say that loosely, but we made it happen! He’s fresh off a great stint at a two Michelin star restaurant in Spain. With the addition of his fine-tuned technical skills, there are no limits to what we can do.
Well, there are some limits. You only have a beer and wine license.
I’m a vermouth fanatic and my favorite cocktail is the Martinez. We won’t be able to serve that here, but we can do some killer beer cocktails and other things with wine and liqueurs. Eventually I’d like to open up a proper cocktail bar, possibly in the space next door. That’s the dream.
Can you describe the vibe at Eating House.
We only play hip-hop here, but it’s the good stuff. Abeula and Abuelo can listen to it and they won’t be offended. We see all kinds of people come through the door -- young, old, and everything in between. We also see a lot of ladies in big groups, which is fun. You don’t have to be a “foodie” to eat here. Rest assured you’ll never see the word “foam” on any of my menus.
There are a lot of businesses and business people in the Coral Gables area. Will you be open for lunch?
Yes, we hope to open for lunch in January, potentially by New Year’s Day. The menu will be relatively healthy and affordable. For $15 - $16, guests could walk out of here with a brown bag filled with a sandwich such as the Broccoli Cheese Steak (instead of meat, I use grilled broccoli with my own version of Cheez Whiz and caramelized onions; a bag of chips (homemade Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips); and, a locally brewed ice tea (Cucumber and Jasmine White Tea). Each lunch will come with a little surprise, too. Wouldn’t it be cool to reach into your brown bag and find a handwritten note that says ‘it was all a dream’ or something like that to help you get through the day?