The Best Celebrity Chef-Owned Restaurants in Miami
Head to Nobu for first-class Japanese food | Courtesy of Nobu Restaurants
In a city as packed with enviable stretches of beaches, permanent warm weather and unparalleled nightlife, it should come as no surprise that the food scene is equally luxurious – thanks to the city’s wealth of celebrity chefs. From cooking with fire to meticulously rolled sushi, these are the best celebrity chef-owned restaurants in Miami.
Scarpetta by Scott Conant
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Scarpetta by Scott Conant serves a range of Italian dishes | Courtesy of Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Scott Conant is a man of many trades: chef, cookbook author, James Beard Award recipient and a judge on Chopped. He’s also the supremo behind Scarpetta, an Italian restaurant with locations in everywhere from Las Vegas to the Hamptons. In Miami, Conant uses an array of pastas, seafood and vegetables to create dishes that reflect the Florida landscape, with his classic spaghetti twirled with tomato sauce and basil a particular favorite. Other droolworthy options include yellowtail crudo, squat ravioli shielding duck and foie gras, and roasted branzino with sunchokes and eggplant.
Los Fuegos by Francis Mallmann provides a taste of Argentina | Courtesy of Faena Hotel Miami Beach
Chef Francis Mallmann’s only restaurant outside of South America is stationed in Miami Beach, where he continues to flaunt his love for live-fire cooking. Mallmann is known for his quick rise to fame as a 19-year-old restaurant owner and for his featured episode of Chef’s Table. The restaurateur brings Argentinian breakfast, lunch and dinner to the lavish dining room. The open-fire kitchen allows guests a front-row seat to the action: the white-suited chefs flip orange olive oil pancakes, sear cast-iron tiger prawns, and slide crimped empanadas filled with prime filet or pecorino and caramelized onions into the wood-fired oven. On Sundays, the restaurant boasts an Argentinian open-fire barbecue (called an asado), where friends and family are encouraged to gather for a buffet of traditional South American dishes.
Soon after opening Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, the then-rising star Michael Schwartz won a James Beard Award for Best Chef in the South. Housed in the Design District, Michael’s focuses on showcasing local ingredients, depending on what’s in season. There might be a salad tossed with Florida strawberries and ribbons of ricotta salata, or wood-oven roasted snapper drizzled with mint salsa verde and flush with local squash. Produce often arrives from nearby farms such as Bee Heaven Farm, Teena’s Pride and Palmetto Creek Farms. Stick around for dessert to spoon silky key lime pie hiding under a cloud of torched meringue.
The attention to detail extends from the food to the design at Nobu | Courtesy of Nobu Restaurants
Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s vast restaurant portfolio, (38 locations across five continents) extends to the beaches of Miami, where he’s cooked up his famed miso-brushed black cod since 2016. At this Robert De Niro-backed Japanese restaurant, you can dine on the patio or opt to stay indoors under the moody lights. The perennial favorites, such as lobster ceviche, rock shrimp tempura, wagyu and foie gras gyoza, land on every table. Plus, there’s always a slew of nigiri and rolls overflowing with the likes of toro and smoked salmon skin.
StripSteak by Michael Mina is housed in Miami’s Fontainebleau Hotel | Courtesy Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Touting over 30 restaurants in his award-winning restaurant group, Michael Mina’s contribution to the Miami culinary scene is a splashy steakhouse tucked in the Fontainebleau Hotel. The restaurant dazzles and delights by hauling out hunks of meat from the on-site ageing room and seafood towers glistening with lobster, shrimp, oysters and tuna tartare. Veal chops, rib eyes and Australian tomahawks – some painted with truffle butter, others bubbling with smoked blue cheese – are shepherded from the wood-burning grill to the table. Each can be paired with classic chophouse sides: creamed spinach, parmesan truffle fries and crispy brussels sprouts. For dessert, there’s the sweet potato bread pudding made à la minute, soaked in maple and crowned with brown butter-pecan ice cream.
A couple of years after winning season nine of Top Chef, chef Paul Qui opened Pao by Paul Qui in the ritzy Faena Miami Beach owned by Alan Faena, the designer behind the restaurant’s dome. At Pao, Qui exhibits a penchant for fusing cuisines by crafting a menu with Filipino, Spanish, Japanese, Thai and French influences. The menu is slimmed down and changes seasonally. You’ll see Japanese and Spanish accents in the smoked short-rib asado flanked by pickles and Japanese sweet potato puree; Filipino classics such as sisig (a traditional dish that dates back to the 17th century), folded with crispy pork, toasted garlic rice and a fried egg; and Thai and French features in the whole aged duck, paired with tom ka rice. Qui’s disposition for food as art is firmly on display throughout his dishes, each meticulously plated and beautifully presented.
Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar draws inspiration from California’s Napa Valley | Courtesy of Gorilla MGT
Chef Adrianne Calvo brings a touch of California’s Napa Valley to her Miami restaurant. Calvo, a culinary expert on local TV and former Chopped competitor, first fell in love with food on a trip to Napa. Soon after, she opened Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar, her first restaurant, in 2007. Here, the menu is split up into categories: starters, salads, seasonal small plates, seafood and meats, with specialities including sweet corn tamalitos, mahi-mahi slick with lemon caper butter and a truffle-infused rack of lamb. The wine list is just as California inspired, peppered with wines from Napa Valley.
It’s all about pork at this Asian-influenced restaurant, operated by Sergio Navarro and José Mendín (the latter of whom was nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef). The sleek space is outfitted with brick walls, and dishes are often served on funky wooden boards or in intricately painted pottery. For the pork fanatics, opt for the pork-belly bao buns swiped with butterscotch miso, or the Pubbelly ramen, bobbing with barbecue pork, noodles and bean sprouts.