Miami Eateries Redefining American Cuisine: South Street
From the minds (and palates) of Gigi/Cooper Avenue owner Amir Ben-Zion and Philadelphia native and entrepreneur Amaris Jones, South Street plumbs a treasure trove of recipes from Jones’s family. The venue also features cocktails by Bar Lab, as well as an upstairs lounge focused on live music in the vein of blues, Motown, soul, funk, and jazz—Jones’s ideal rendition of all that is Philly.
Your calling card dish?
A version of mac and cheese from a recipe that has been in my family for years. It’s served in a skillet, with a blend of three cheeses, and has nutmeg, to give it that Amaris twist.
The restaurant’s unique dish?
Regional turkey chops. This is from a special cut of turkey, like a pork chop, but very tender. We ate it a lot in Philly, and I can’t wait to introduce it to Miami.
Your inspiration for a restaurant combining soul food and music?
South Street in Philadelphia in the ’80s was a cool street with real personality where everyone just hung—a mecca of coolness with The Copa and Zipperhead. My father’s first church, South Side Church Center, was there. We sold soul food dinners. I was amazed at how great food brought good vibes and people together and always good times along with it.
Your culinary mentor?
My mom specialized in fried chicken and mac and cheese, Cousin Francis’s Southern fried corn was second to none, and my aunt Shirley made collard greens that I still can’t replicate. I watched them and learned their secrets.
Any new food-related discovery?
I fell in love with Bajan pepper sauce on a trip to Barbados in January.
Your earliest childhood memory involving American food?
Sunday dinner at my grandmother’s house, and seeing how my mother would come in with all of her ingredients and share the love and knowledge of the kitchen with our family. This is what I hope to do at South Street every night—host a throwback to the family dinner.
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.