Athens and Izmir are on the same latitude across the Aegean Sea, and Greek and Turkish cuisines come together at Meze Aegean Bistro, where the dishes are simple and based on quality ingredients, including lavraki (sea bass) flown in from Greece.
Make a meal here with a mix of hot and cold meze or start with a small plate of feta cheese and Kalamata olives followed by grilled meats or seafood.
Business partners Sabah Doksoz and Ahmet Demir opened the restaurant three months ago. Sabah is from Mersin in southwest Turkey, and his mother was Greek. He worked in hotel management and on cruise ships, landing in Miami 20 years ago.
Ahmet is from Adiyaman in southeast Turkey where ancient tombs top mountains. After managing a Greek restaurant in South Africa, he relocated to Miami and opened a kebab shop. Chef Fernando Echeverri, a veteran of several tapas places, now turns out small plates of Mediterranean meze.
Get a taste of the Ottoman Empire in fasolakia (green beans sautéed in tomato sauce with onions and herbs), white bean piyaz (salad) tossed with garlic, peppers and dill and grilled halloumi cheese from Cyprus.
Octopus tentacles are marinated in a mix of olive oil, lemon juice and oregano and grilled, emerging soft and tender. There’s also octopus chowder with potatoes in a red pepper and tomato base.
Grilled and filleted fish are scattered with capers and drizzled in olive oil and lemon. Braised lamb shank falls from the bone, plated with rice pilaf.
At meal’s end, honey-soaked baklava with pistachios invites a tiny cup of Turkish coffee or glass of tea.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.