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The 50 Finest!

We’ve seen it happen before—as the mercury rises, special things start to sizzle at restaurant kitchens all over the city. The stakes are high when it comes to dining out this summer and we’ve got 50 reasons why: hot new eateries to consider, well-known favorites that haven’t lost their fire, cocktails and desserts that can’t help but raise our body temperatures, and talented chefs who know how to stay cool under pressure. The question is, diner: Can you take the heat?

Tongue & Cheek's Long Island scallops

Pasta and style go hand in hand at Cipriani on Brickell.


1. Cipriani 
That’s right, the restaurant family that gave the world the Bellini (at Harry’s Bar in Venice back in the 1930s) has opened an outpost of its revered brand on our shores. Brothers Maggio and Ignazio Cipriani (grandsons of founder Giuseppe) have long been at work on this 20th location to ensure all the Cipriani trappings are in check. Martinis? Dry as ever. Pasta? Al dente, of course. Sprezzatura swagger? As if you have to ask. Icon Brickell, 465 Brickell Ave., Miami, 786.329.4090

2. Restaurant Michael Schwartz at The Raleigh
Chef Michael Schwartz has checked in at the Raleigh with a menu that touches on everything the man does so well: honest eats that illustrate the chef’s ever-processing imagination—from potato chips with pan-fried onion dip to pan-roasted local swordfish with red lentil tabbouleh, yogurt sauce and chili oil. 1775 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305.612.1163

3. Catch
Adjacent to SL nightclub and designed by ICrave, CATCH has smart city style well covered. A Manhattan transplant from savvy EMM Group, the kitchen’s globally inspired seafood dishes come from Top Chef winner Hung Huynh, who nightly dishes out winning plates, like scallops and cauliflower with tamarind-infused brown butter, that never fail to impress us. The James Royal Palm, 1545 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 786.224.7200

4. Khong River House
There’s a very good reason why Khong was nominated as a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant from the James Beard Foundation this year: a talented group of dedicated professionals, led by owner John Kunkel, who collectively put out some of the best Northern Thai food we’ve ever tasted in Miami. Wash down the crispy prawns with any of the bar’s gin-fueled cocktails and acknowledge two things: How wrong the Beard folks were not to give Khong the final nod, and how right we are to do so instead. 1661 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach, 305.763.8147

5. Tongue & Cheek
The opening of Tongue & Cheek has at last put the innovative talents of Jamie DeRosa on full display. Here, the chef is making American food on his terms: “simple” dishes that are anything but when it comes to execution. His beef cheek burger with cheddar pimento cheese on housemade brioche is such an involved dish, it’s only available on a limited basis. And if he’s willing to do that with a patty, you can only imagine how he’s treated the rest of the menu. 431 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 305.704.2900

6. Oak Tavern
Sibling to The River Seafood & Oyster Bar, David Bracha’s Oak Tavern is very much a golden child. Having experimented on previous eateries, papa Bracha clearly knows the key to raising a restaurant: homemade everything (from the cornbread to the charcuterie), superior service and warm, homey decor. Indeed, this young ’un is darn near perfect—enough to make any older offspring jealous. 35 NE 40th St., Miami, 786.391.1818

7. Dolce
Style and substance is a tricky balancing act, but Dolce manages culinary equilibrium quite nicely. Located at the Gale, this primo Italian eatery, headed up by chef Paolo Dorigato, provides a front seat to the sidewalk shenanigans of South Beach while keeping the diner’s palate equally entertained with bountiful servings of glorious carbs. 1690 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 786.975.2551

8. MC Kitchen
Launched by chef Dena Marino (the “M”) and her business partner Brandy Coletta (the “C”), this high-powered Italian entity in the Design District was a top runner from the word andiamo. Or is it andate? These ladies have done right by The Boot with superbly executed antipasti like artichoke heart bruschetta with a poached farm egg and truffled fonduta to simply designed affogato. Here’s one word we are sure of: amore—which Marino and Coletta have plenty of. 4141 NE Second Ave., Miami, 305.456.9948

9. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse 
Wolfgang Zwiener’s Miami outpost of his New York-based original is superb for its service as well as its sirloin, served sliced on a searingly hot plate, and its apple strudel, covered in house-whipped schlag (cream). It’s a bonanza of bad cholesterol, sure, but we’ll confess that steakhouse gluttony never tasted so good. 315 S. Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305.487.7130

10. The Cypress Room
When old Florida—by way of mounted white-tail deer and boar trophies—meets new Miami—by way of patrons exclaiming over small-batch, cask-aged spirits and local-sourced vegetables, heritage meat and 100-mile cuisine—the result is somewhat Gatsby-ish... with a touch of ex-pat Hemingway thrown in. All this is to say that owner Michael Schwartz’s restaurateur powers are at their height in this intimate space, where Chef de Cuisine Roel Alcudia predates trends by serving late-night cold tea and smoked salmon or egg salad finger sandwiches. Oh, and antelope with bay turnips and apricot, anyone? 3620 NE Second Ave., Miami, 305.520.5197

Click here to read more of "The 50 Finest!" in the digital edition of Miami!