With an emphasis on farm-to-table and delicious cuisine, Miami’s newest restaurant Orno is far more than what you see on the plate.
It has been an exciting week for Chef Niven Patel and Mohamed Alkassar as they opened the doors to their newest restaurant, Orno, on October 14. Patel and Alkassar have had a long history together both working in the hospitality industry, but it wasn't until this new project that the two joined forces. After working alongside one another on the project, Patel and Alkassar have officially created their own formal restaurant group, Alpareno Restaurant Group, to continue the exciting evolution of the Miami food and beverage industry. Alkassar smiled as he said, “We're really looking forward to a great future because like working with this man right here has been amazing.” And Orno is just the start of an amazing collaboration the two are about to embark on.
Chef Niven Patel and Mohamed Alkassar
Chef Patel is the mastermind behind many of Miami’s favorite restaurants including Ghee Indian Kitchen and Mamey, and he was also just named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef of 2020.
We had the chance to sit down with Patel and Alkassar just shy of a week post-Orno's opening, in one of the restaurant's most coveted rooms, the library. With design on the forefront of this project, the library, the main dining room and the bar are all pinnacle elements of the restaurant's soul. Located in the THesis Hotel in the heart of Coral Gables, Orno is beginning to change the landscape for cuisine in South Miami.
The Library at Orno
The roots of this restaurant go far beyond what dish is served on the plate, with a daily changing menu Orno emphasizes the use of utilizing the best produce in its purest form. In doing so, Chef Patel aims to use a majority of produce on the menu from his own farm, Rancho Patel, located just miles away from the new Coral Gables restaurant in Homestead. Because of Rancho Patel, Chef Patel is constantly working with his farm to make the menu perfect, he explained, “Like our okra plants are kind of exhausted, we're busier than the volume. So I have more growing but it's still two weeks away from being able to produce enough for the restaurant. But then we have Romano beans that are growing right now, which is my absolute favorite bean, and off the grill it is delicious. So that's like a perfect example of how we can utilize the farm and change the menu.”
Main Dining Room at Orno
Produce from Rancho Patel is brought into the restaurant every single day to ensure fresh, delicious ingredients for each dish. In addition to Rancho Patel, Orno and the rest of Patel’s restaurants also work with an amazing group of local farmers.
Orno’s menu is defined as New American because its offerings serve a variety of regions and styles of cuisine, similar to how the group named the restaurant. Based on, “Horno” and “Forno”, meaning oven in Spanish and Italian, Alkassar explained, “The reason why we named it the way we did with just O-R-N-O is because it is new American, it's not tied to a certain cuisine. But the oven is the focal point really dominating the grill, the wood cooking and the style of cooking. So it does draw inspiration from Italy, a little bit from Spain and American dishes as well.” The oven was most definitely a focal point in the build-out for the restaurant, as the two explained they built the restaurant from the kitchen out.
In just a week, the restaurant has seen tremendous success with a few full-restaurant buyouts and many starred dishes already coming to light. From opening until now the two explained that some of the hits have been the Charred Sunchokes, Vidalia Onion Gratin, Whole Grilled Branzino and the Alaskan Halibut, but many other highlights include a wide array of pasta, pizza, salad and more. With a menu planning to change both seasonally and through availability at Chef Patel’s farm, the flavors at Orno are set to be ever-changing and evolving.
Orno is an exciting addition to the Miami culinary scene but also the start of something special for both Patel and Alkassar with Alpareno Restaurant Group. The Miami community is patiently waiting to see what else the two have in store!
Orno is officially open at 1350 South Dixie Highway, and open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner. Stay up to date on Orno’s exciting offerings and hours on their official website, ornomiami.com.
Photography by: Courtesy Orno, Alpareno Restaurant Group