These days, Miamians never have to leave town to indulge in everything from Scarpetta’s house-made spaghetti and Zuma’s Kurobuta pork belly skewers to The Bazaar’s foie gras PB&J and Milos’s salad of deep-sea Nova Scotia lobster with Metaxa. But after years of culinary exoticism, Miami restaurateurs and local chefs are suddenly, and increasingly, looking homeward for inspiration. Centuries before the term “farm to table” became the rage, our new nation lived off the plenty of the land, producing a simple, honest cuisine rooted not only in our country’s vast physical landscape but also in its diverse cultural heritage. It’s the comfort food of chilly New England and Southern African-American homes, the barbecue pits of the Carolinas, and the diners of our burgeoning cities.
New American cuisine, pioneered in the 1980s by such renowned chefs as Larry Forgione, Wolfgang Puck, Jeremiah Tower, Jonathan Waxman, and Alice Waters, modernized and in some cases simplified our cooking to make it fresher, purer, and better. Over the last decade, there’s been a resurgence in this back-to-basics culinary style, and Miami is taking the concept to new levels with restaurants offering reinterpretations of America’s regional cuisines. The chefs and owners at these New American establishments carry on that same tradition of turning our country’s history into flavorful, signature works of culinary art. Their efforts are, in essence, the embodiment of the American spirit made edible.
Here, we talk to the chefs behind five new neighborhood restaurants leading the charge.