One thought up a Cuban-American diner, the other a burger so good people still talk about it more than a year after the restaurant closed.
Now the owner of Chug’s Diner and Ariete has teamed up with Proof pizza’s founder to open a new restaurant in Coconut Grove.
Nave, Italian for ship, is a new seafood-and pasta-focused restaurant in Coconut Grove opening Nov. 5. Chef Michael Beltran, who opened the next-door Ariete four years ago, partnered with chef Justin Flit for this nautically inspired restaurant at the far western edge of an ever-expanding Grove.
“We’re creating a reason for people to come to this corner of the Grove,” Beltran said.
The two have been working together since Proof closed in March of 2018. Beltran, 34, brought Flit, 35, in to make his popular Proof burger at his next-door Taurus Whisk(e)y Bar — but the two always had bigger plans.
“I wanted him to cook his food in a dining room that deserved it,” Beltran said.
Flit, who was born in Parkland, opened Midtown’s Proof after working at Michael Mina’s excellent Bourbon Steak in Aventura for four years. The restaurant was a hit with its pizzas, pastas and an unexpected burger that made pop-up visits at other locations after Proof closed when business flagged amid the Zika crisis.
Nave is a bright restaurant of whitewashed beiges and blues with birchwood tables, where a glass pasta-making room sits side-by-side with a raw bar stocked with fresh seafood.
The seafood section of the menu includes a market-price raw bar with everything from oysters and clams to sea urchin. Woodfire dishes (a tip to Flit’s Proof days) range from clam and truffle pizzas to Peekytoe crab and octopus. Scallops a la plancha and snapper Milanese are among the larger dishes.
Flit’s pasta skills will share the stage. Made throughout the day, including during service, the pasta ranges from simple dishes like spaghetti with Manila clams, chili and lemon and rigatoni with basil pesto to fusilli with chicken liver ragu and risotto with Maine lobster.
Beltran had been a Proof customer who fell in love with the other cuisine Flit was creating at Proof (“That was the only restaurant I’d go to every single week,” he said). Angel hair pasta, Brussels sprout salad and an oxtail pizza were his go-to orders.
Their idea, Beltran said, was to bring excitement to a lonesome corner of the Grove that had been quiet since the massive former restaurant by Jimmy Cefalo has been broken up into four spaces. Ariete and Taurus were the first. Beltran said he hopes his restaurants will do for this part of the Grove what José Mendín’s Pubbelly, Pubbelly Sushi and Barceloneta did for Sunset Harbour.
“There are a lot of good restaurants in Miami,” Flit said, “and we want to be one of them.”
3540 Main Highway, Coconut Grove
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 6-11 p.m. Sunday, open until 10 p.m.