Chef Marcelo Marino is very picky about his menu.
He doesn’t fry food and he only purchases ingredients from sustainable and organic farms.
The Argentina native points to his chest when he talks about his cuisine. “It’s about passion” he said. “The mind creates food from the heart.”
Marino heads the newly opened North Miami Beach organic restaurant, Green House Miami. The restaurant’s avant-garde menu is a nod to upscale healthy eating, Marino said.
He beams when he points out there is no fryer station in his kitchen.
You won’t find ordinary chicken or snapper on the Green House menu.
Instead, entrees include foie gras stuffed sturgeon, ostrich carpaccio and purple truffle pizza. Proteins are accompanied by hearty saffron rice pillows or Israeli couscous.
On opening night, Marino bustled back and forth from the kitchen to the dining area where dozens of guests mingled.
In the kitchen, he shouted to a chef — “Manny, where’s your hat?” — while overseeing the bite sized samples before servers carried them out to diners.
Marino, a self-proclaimed food purist, makes all of his cheeses and breads in-house. Meats are also cured and brined in the North Miami Beach kitchen.
Marino said he has one big “no” when he chooses produce for his restaurant.
“No pesticides,” he said
Farmer Lee Jones, who owns The Chef’s Garden in Ohio, was on hand for the grand opening in his signature red bowtie and blue overalls.
Jones’ farm offers hand harvested organic micro greens and vegetables to Marino and other South Florida restaurateurs.
“It’s so exciting to see a chef committed to quality ingredients,” Jones said.
Out in the dining area, potential customers milled about, some watching the action in the kitchen on flat screen TVs.
The TVs which are a fixtures in the dining room, offer a real-time view to customers who are waiting for their dishes to be prepared.
“There are no secrets here,” Marino said of opening his kitchen to patrons.
Rosalie Schalaen, 63, a Hollywood resident, surveyed a tray full of samples looking for octopus.
“I’ve already had two,” she confessed. “I’ll definitely be back to try the whole octopus.”
Another satisfied guest said he will also return.
“I think this concept is great. We should be eating healthier,” said Aventura resident Harold Reinhartz, 61.
Customers who dine at Green House won’t have to choose their dinner from a paper laminated menu. Each table is equipped with an iPad for diners to peruse the menu. Click on a particular dish and in addition to the price and ingredients, nutritional values and the geographic source for the food also appear.
The digital menus offer six language choices: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Russian.
Live music and performance from local artists during all dinner services adds extra ambiance to the earthy dining area.
Marino said he believes the restaurant will be a hit even in non-foodie circles because of the nation-wide movement to eat healthier. He adds, his passion will also drive the restaurant’s success.
“I believe in what I do,” he said. “I love what I do.”