Find your way past Miami’s big art fairs, pop-up galleries and dazzling fêtes, and follow your senses to the kitchen, where some of Miami’s most talented chefs are putting their art on the table. From artful presentations to museum cafés, visit these five must-try Miami restaurants for culinary pièces de résistance.
1. R House, Wynwood
At R House in Wynwood, food, music and art collide. During Art Week only, order the special Paint Palette Pizzetta topped with local mozzarella, Italian parmesan and executive chef-owner Rocco Carulli’s housemade heirloom tomato marinara. Sauces of roasted red pepper, beet purée and arugula pesto are positioned around the pie, allowing Carulli to “paint” them on with brushes.
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“I think this is an easy way to taste all the colors of R House,” Carulli said. “Every plate starts as a blank canvas, ready to be decorated by the chef.”
2727 Northwest Second Avenue, Miami; 305-576-0201; rhousewynwood.com.
2. LaMuse Cafe, Downtown Miami
Head to Avant Gallery, in the Epic Hotel, and you’ll discover a hidden, fairytale-like café living among the art. Here, expect light yet satisfying dishes like Picasso’s Prosciutto & Melon. On this starter, pieces of cantaloupe are infused with fresh raspberry juice for a jolt of sweet and tart, then wrapped in imported prosciutto. It’s all served with a smattering of fresh basil, crumbled walnuts and raspberries drizzled in a housemade balsamic reduction.
“Some of the dishes are named after people, like Brigitte Bardot, Kate Moss, Dora Maar and Kiki de Montparnasse. These are the actual ‘muses’ that inspired some of the most famous artists,” said Dirk DeSouza, who works with restaurant founder and owner Dmitry Prut. “That’s where the inspiration for the restaurant came from. It’s really a celebration of women.”
270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami; 305-400-0036; lamusecafe.com.
3. Pao by Paul Qui, Miami Beach
The brainchild of James Beard Award-winning chef Paul Qui, Pao — at the Faena — takes a playful approach to fancy, modern Asian cuisine. Drawing on this whimsy is Qui’s Uni-Corn appetizer, a nod to Damien Hirst’s $6.5 million unicorn statue, The Golden Myth, that stands in the center of the gold-domed dining room.
“I wanted to create a dish that would complement our Hirst unicorn by featuring both uni and corn,” Qui said. “It had to have a stunning presentation to do justice to the art, but at the same time, be comforting and inviting.”
Served in a spiky sea urchin shell, Uni-Corn is made with grilled sweet corn pudding, Santa Barbara sea urchin, sake aioli, chile de árbol and lime.
3201 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 786-655-5600; faena.com/miami-beach/restaurant.
4. Verde, Downtown Miami
For executive chef Kaytlin Dangaran of Verde, which overlooks Biscayne Bay from Pérez Art Museum Miami, food is her creative outlet. Much like the contemporary collections hanging on PAMM’s walls, at Verde, classic dishes offer a taste of Miami in a very modern way. Take the Pizza Fritte appetizer, for example.
“We start with fresh dough, made in-house, and forming it into strips,” Dangaran said. “We then flash-fry the dough for a warm, crispy texture, and top it off with pepperonata, basil and parmesan. It’s like a savory funnel cake.”
1103 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami; 786-345-5697; pamm.org/dining.
5. Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, Wynwood
“If you come to Wynwood and don’t visit Wynwood Walls, you didn’t really visit Wynwood,” Michael Seitman said. We could say the same about Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, where Seitman is sous chef. Known for its Latin-fusion tapas and funky murals, WKB is worth a visit for Seitman’s 48-Hour Crispy Pork. It comes complete with white cheddar-chipotle grits, pork jus and house-pickled peppers.
“The marinating, braising and cooking process takes a couple of days, which allows all the flavors to marry and work together, giving a true dining experience in a single dish,” he said. “Every component is a labor of love.”
2550 Northwest Second Avenue, Miami; 305-722-8959; wynwoodkitchenandbar.com.