Tasting & Toasting

Gourmet Food and Wine Pairings, September 2008

Crown Online has re-launched! Crown Wine and Spirits, the leading wine merchant in South Florida for more than 50 years, has re-launched its website and is now even better suited to bring the gourmet experience right to your door! The powerhouse Miami gourmet, wine and liquor retailer has teamed with SocialMiami.com to present Tasting & Toasting – a South Florida guide for connoisseurs. This monthly newsletter brings together the finest Miami restaurants with Crown’s experts who suggest wines to complement the cuisine. If the wine selection intrigues you, click through to Crown Online and make the purchase. Crown is the fastest and easiest way to shop for wine, liquor and gourmet foods online. And be sure to make a reservation at one of these featured restaurants and enjoy a feast fit for royalty.

Anokha Restaurant & The Peacock Lounge

Meena Patel & her family opened Anokha Fine Indian Cuisine on Commodore Plaza nine years ago. Today, that “Small Indian Restaurant in the Grove” has moved into a new location that is sleek and modern with sexy curves and vibrant colors – a definite “hot spot” for contemporary Indian Cuisine. The restaurant showcases Bollywood movies and Indian top-40 music, while the staff playfully dresses in traditional Indian outfits and more modern designs. Executive chef Bhavesh Patel offers an “American Desi” fusion menu and a full bar with a large selection of Indian beers and a creative wine list. Try an appetizer of shredded duck & brie samosas with cilantro-mint cream followed by entrée of New Zealand lamb chops with masala mashed potatoes and roasted sweet corn succotash (Crown recommends Banfi Brunello di Montalcino). Anokha is open for lunch and dinner and is located at 3324 Virginia Street in Coconut Grove. For reservations: 786-552-1030.

Café @ Books & Books

Pour over a paper or magazine as you sip your coffee and eat a delicious pastry at the Café @ Books & Books on Lincoln Road. This moderately priced outdoor café located in a small-but-well-stocked bookstore is dog friendly. GM and executive chef, Bernie Matz, suggests a starter of Grilled Calamari tossed in a shrimp sofrito sauté served with balsamic mixed greens, melons and pineapple, or perhaps a grilled pears, blue cheese and honey-chipotle pecan salad served with mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. For a main course, try a pan-fried grouper filet in shrimp and coconut sauce served with a side of yucca fries & grilled vegetables (Crown recommends Caymus Conundrum). Café @ Books & Books is located at 927 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. For information: 305-695-8898.

Cita’s Italian Chophouse

Nestled among a captivating row of boutique shops, art galleries and salons in Coconut Grove, Cita’s Italian Chophouse opened in July and is fast becoming a neighborhood gem. Owner and longtime Grove resident Ed Benitez knows his bistro-like, authentic Italian chophouse – serving premium cuts of beef, day boat fresh fish and house made pastas – is a simple recipe for success: pure, delicious fare and casual elegance in an unpretentiousness setting as bewitching as its surroundings. The 1,475 square foot space, designed and constructed by Benitez, seats 120 with a comfortable dining room, outdoor courtyard and intimate breezeway. Benitez suggests the polpetta della nonna for a starter and an entrée of risotto alla sarda con aragosta – saffron risotto w/ lobster and zucchini made the classic Sardinian way, with sliced lobster chunks, zucchini, and half a lobster tail (Crown recommends Mer Soleil Chardonnay). Located at 3176 Commodore Plaza in Coconut Grove, Cita’s Italian Chophouse is open nightly for dinner with brunch served on Saturday and Sunday. For reservations: 305-446-2207.

Himmarshee Bar & Grille

The word “Himmarshee” is a Native American term meaning “New Water” so called because of Fort Lauderdale’s New River that runs along the edge of the neighborhood. Upon opening its doors, Himmarshee Bar & Grille became the go-to destination for foodies as well as the area’s movers and shakers. Its next door Side Bar, offers guests sultry drinks, dancing and entertainment. The clean, bright flavors in meals executive chef and partner, Youssef Hammi, prepares reflect the influences of his Moroccan heritage and techniques he absorbed while working under top chefs in some of New York City’s greatest kitchens. Try the Butternut Squash Purses as a starter and the oak grilled steak with caramelized onion mash, gorgonzola, crispy onions (Crown recommends Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon) as a main course. Himmarshee Bar & Grille is located at 210 SW 2nd Street in downtown Fort Lauderdale. For reservations: 954-524-1818.

Bice Bistro

The first Bice opened in 1926 by Beatrice Ruggeri’s (her nickname was Bice) in Milan. The establishment was originally called “il Ristorante Da Gino e Bice” and was later renamed to “Bice.” Today, Bice in Coconut Grove is an eclectic bistro with an energetic vibe that offers authentic international and Italian cuisine that includes fresh homemade pastas, wood burning oven pizzas, seafood and steak. Try the eggplant parmesan as an appetizer, followed by their fabulous Milano salad and the Gamberoni entrée – shrimp scampi in a lemon white wine sauce served with rigatoni (Crown recommends Pazo Barrantes Ras Baixas Albarino). Bice is located at 3015 Grand Ave in Coconut Grove. For reservations: 305-443-1770.

Interested in having your restaurant featured in Tasting & Toasting? Please contact Allison McCormick at allison@socialmiami.com

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