We sat down with Chef de Cuisine Antonio Mermolia to talk about his favorite dishes at Le Sirenuse, and how he created a one-of-a-kind menu.
One of Italy’s brightest gastronomic talents, Antonio Mermolia, is now the Magic City’s star chef. Honing his skills in Sicily, working successfully at Il Punto, Mulino a Vino, and Capatosta in New York, and studying the flavors of Le Sirenuse in Positano, Mermolia is bringing Miami locals a taste of simple Southern Italian Cuisine with unique and inspiring innovations.
“This traditional dish from the region of Campania might surprise you as one of my favorite dishes, as it is a standard dish that almost every chef has done at some point. What I truly love about it though, is that I feel like I have made it my own, something unique and inspiring. But it wasn’t easy. At first, I struggled with whether or not to do this dish at all, as I was hesitant to change such a seamless dish. Many chefs may alter the consistency of the mozzarella. However, this was one thing I was sure I did not want to modify. While I pondered this dish, I finally thought, what if I just change the actual temperature and keep the original consistency the way it is? This discovery of making the Buffalo Mozzarella warm took the plate to another level. By doing this simple change, I was able to fashion something new, but still honor the customary plate. Since I increased the temperature, La Caprese Calda is now unique and unlike anything before!”
“While the title of this dish may look simple and ordinary, the “Ice Green Salad” is actually quite the opposite. In this case, I took two unassuming words "ice" and "green" and magnified the simplicity of the flavors by soaking them in ice water first. This gives that crispy crunch to the vegetables illuminating the texture of this dish. In order to enhance the appearance and perception of this bowl, I created a homemade ice-ball, which holds the eloquent lemon sorbet dressing that is meant to be drizzled on the top of this sensational Antipasti.”
“Not only is this what I believe to be the most fascinating dish on the menu, it is also the most popular. The Spaghetto Pomodoro e Basilico is probably the easiest, yet most difficult dishes ever created. Most upscale Italian restaurants do not offer this type of pasta, however, I chose to because I believe simplicity is the most difficult thing to achieve, but once achieved, it will construct magic in the fine details. Taking a traditional recipe made with fresh grapes and tomatoes, doesn’t come lightly; it takes my team and me two days of preparation and curating to craft this distinctive sauce to pair perfectly with a spaghetti that has been delicately cooked in water infused with tomatoes. This is the perfect example of a masterful, yet fundamental dish that I am excited about every time this order is placed.”
“This mixed seafood tempura is another favorite of mine, served solely at Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar. While most are expecting a traditional tempura batter with flour, beer and cornstarch, I have completely reinvented this by dropping all those greasy ingredients and curating a new type of batter using only rice. The reason behind this is, while although delicious, a normal tempura batter loses the texture and often becomes soft after a few short minutes. By using only rice, this dish is now classified as gluten free, holding an incredible crunchy texture, lasting much longer, and generating a flawless flavor palate topped off with a delightful lemon aioli and tomato powder.”
“From the dessert menu, this Pistachio Gelato is a must try! Made from 100% pistachio nuts flown in directly from Bronte Sicily, this irresistible gelato is my preferred sweet course to end the night. In order to present this two-day masterpiece properly, every detail is taken into consideration when served to the guest. I truly believe this unbelievable pistachio from Bronte is nature’s gift to us and brings a sensational flavor to an impeccable dessert.” Le Sirenuse Miami, 9011 Collins Ave., Surfside, 786-482-2280
Photography by: Photography by Christian Horan Photography