Rustic Bar Meli is the latest venture from Greek-Australian restaurateur Liza Meli of Ouzo and Anise. The ballroom dancer from Sydney landed in Miami on her way to South America 20 years ago and never left, finding her passion in food and flamenco.
Cuban-born chef Maykel Solis is of Greek descent and worked with Liza at Anise. He went to culinary school in Havana, came to Miami to stay with his grandmother a year ago and honed his skills at Kouzina before joining forces with Liza.
Starters include spicy feta and sun-dried tomato dip, white bean hummus with harissa and chickpea salad in lemon dressing. There’s also toasted crostini topped with mashed roasted eggplant and crumbled feta, octopus empanadas and grilled head-on giant prawns.
Pair your picks with wines by the glass or bottle from small family wineries in Spain, France, Sicily, Greece, Corsica and the Canary Islands such as the slightly spicy Nero d’Avola red with hints of currant, dark chocolate and herbs from Mount Etna. It is good paired with New Zealand lamb chops, Moroccan lamb sausage or meatballs in yogurt sauce.
Also from the grill are zucchini slices with feta and mint, calamari with basil pesto and salmon with tomato-caper salad. Or just sip a glass of vino with tzatziki and warm pita triangles. End with a mini mug of chocolate-wine liqueur and moist coconut-lemon cake with pistachio gelato.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.