There will be fruit from LoSasso's own backyard—and kale mojitos...
Chef Dewey LoSasso reps Acqualina at Moet Hennessy's The Q during the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. (photo: Aaron Davidson/Getty Images)
It’s hard to imagine a more magical setting for a dining spot than Acqualina’s private oceanfront on Sunny Isles. With a $50 million residential penthouse and suites that begin at $1500, the property has tapped chef Dewey LoSasso for its newest coup, AQ by Acqualina, opening later this month.
Acqualina lured the longtime Forge chef to oversee AQ, and all of the hotel’s food and beverage service, and he has devised a creative menu that focuses on fresh, local ingredients with a Mediterranean slant. For instance, goat cheese drizzled with lavender honey and served with basil and pink peppercorn crostini comes from a farm in Homestead; local black grouper is plated with a carrot-pomegranate reduction and apple cakes seared with Florida celery root; borscht is enhanced with stone crabs; and a mango tarte tatin is made with fruit from LoSasso's own backyard in Miami Shores.
“We have a global market, but we want to entice and enhance our local following, and have people in the area come back regularly,’’ said LoSasso, who worked for Donatella Versace for years and did a stint at China Grill Management before opening North One 10 on Biscayne and then revitalizing Miami’s legendary Forge steakhouse.
Acqualina's luxurious, oceanside environs inspired LoSasso to create a Mediterranean-style menu.
The chef also has an eye to healthy preparations. The bread in his panzanella salad is whole wheat, beignets are made with tofu and seaweed, and there is a wide range of inventive salads, from quinoa studded with cherries and preserved lemon to kale with shaved Parmesan and fennel-cured salmon.
Even mojitos are being whipped up in a kale variety. He extends this wholesome approach to children, adding soy panna cotta and whole wheat French toast on the kiddie menu, and offering healthy pizza classes.
“Of course, you do need to have a balance and provide some indulgences,’’ said LoSasso, who plans to include a prime steak, hamburger, and crispy corn and truffle ravioli on the menu.
He also has fun with food and modern molecular techniques. His Spanish octopus is sous vide for tenderness and served on crostini that's been smeared with boiled garlic. Chopped escarole is mixed with black walnut dust and avocado oil powder, and popcorn used in cocktails is dried with liquid nitrogen so that it pops in the mouth and emits smoke.
“I get inspired by my surroundings,’’ said LoSasso, adding that the space is becoming more intimate and less formal with the addition of curtains and a communal station. A full sushi bar managed by chefs from North Miami Beach’s Hiro’s Yakko-san will remain, as will Piazetta Marketplace, where visitors can grab artisanal cheeses, pastries, and coffee.
The outdoor dining patio will become even more extraordinary with the addition of LEDs and dramatic up-lighting. AQ will serve lots of small plates, as well as larger entrees, and guests who want to graze are welcome. “You will be able to have a few small plates and a drink and enjoy the environment,‘’ said LoSasso.