Ravi Kapur has strong feelings about poke. As he should.
“In Hawaii it’s kind of… Well, it’s really a treat,” Ravi explains. “It’s not this mass-consumed, everyday thing necessarily, because really poke should be pretty expensive if you’re using high quality fish. For me growing up, it’s a celebratory thing.”
At now 3 year-old Liholiho Yacht Club in San Francisco, this Oahu-born chef not only takes inspiration from his Hawaiian-Chinese-Indian roots, he takes them quite seriously. Right off the bat this was pretty clear, even as we stole just few minutes in between phone tag on Wednesday. There’s a sense of responsibility that informs his approach. I have neither been to Hawaii nor eaten in his restaurant, but I have read Kapur is a chef-owner known for his cool, collected demeanor in the kitchen. Schwartz had a great meal there. I get the feeling this attitude is an expression of the strength of his intention, to cook with principle and represent his culture correctly and with confidence.
This means something to Kapur, that he stand for something and that his expression is one true to his identity as a Hawaiian. We can relate to this — MS also stands for something, and akin to that. It’s about quality and doing it right, or not at all. This is in part why I began our conversation with poke. To poke a nerve. With the relentless stream of DIY, paint-by-numbers, flavor-of-the-moment poke shops UberEatsing on my Miami doorstep, it’s also hard to ignore.
“The most important element for me is that the fish is extremely fresh and you let that flavor shine without covering it up with too many seasonings,” he continues. “The traditional version would not have soy sauce. It would be Hawaiian salt, and sweet onion, and inamona or ground kukui nut.“
From there he explains it can be embellished, which is fine, with a measured hand, as with most things. Seaweed, sure. Still no seasoning though. You take this highly perishable product and then need to mask it when it’s inferior. Often, when it’s about preserving meat or fish, something common all over the world to extend a product’s lifespan — typically out of necessity — it can be quite good. But it’s transformed. It’s no longer the thing it was. For true poke, if you are using good quality there’s just no way it even can be mass produced — which is basically the benchmark for what my exposure has been to date, fast casual-style. It becomes more about what you are putting on it, than what it is.
“I popped in one day to one of these places, because I’m interested in how they operate, how it flows,” Ravi explains. “I understand the model, how this came to exist, but I’ll never do it because it’s in direct conflict to what I believe poke is. I can’t wrap my head around culturally appropriating things for profit. You won’t find sesame oil in traditional poke. I use some, but for me it’s always going to be all about the fish.”
The fish is Ahi traditionally, but now you can find all types, like Striped Marlin and large bill fish. It’s more sustainable too. Ravi admits he just got back from Maui, and even there, there is a range of quality. Previously frozen… unknown origins at the supermarket. The place he goes to now, Kaohu store, will run you about $17, 18, 19 a pound.
“To me I taste the difference,” he adds. “And you can see the fish. It’s undressed.”
Ravi won’t know what species will greet him when he walks into Michael’s Genuine® on Thursday February 22, but he knows it will be fresh and that will produce the best first course on the plate whether it’s Cobia, Golden Tile or Little Tuny. And there’s pork too, another ingredient that connects our food cultures.
“Absolutely. It’s pretty much pork all the time,” Ravi says. “In the late 1800s, ranching formed a big part of the economy but beef is more expensive. Pork is for everyone and it can be great and flavorful – it just depends on the pig and who’s raising it. I’m doing something off the shoulder. I like roasting those cuts and still having a little bite to it, so you can taste the meat. Some accents, of course, like chili honey rub for a little sweetness and spice. I don’t think I told anybody, but I’m also bringing something else with me.”
We’re not giving that one away. You, co-guest chef Derek Damman and hosts Michael and Tim will just have to squirm. Now isn’t that cause for celebration? And some poke! Find out for yourself. For tickets and menu, visit sobefest.org/michaels.
The time has come to welcome our newest restaurant into the world. Amara at Paraiso opens Thursday, January 11 in Miami’s East Edgewater neighborhood. Located directly on Biscayne Bay in the Paraiso District—the latest master plan development by The Related Group—Amara at Paraiso brings together all the elements of the quintessential Miami waterfront dining experience from environment to cuisine to vibe. The bayside enclave has inspired Schwartz and the team led by Executive Chef Michael Paley to cultivate a menu influenced by the bold flavors of Latin America, coastal ingredients, and the diversity that underpins the city’s cultural identity. The restaurant opens with dinner service, with Sunday Brunch following shortly after. Make a reservation here.
“The dynamic energy, local ingredients, and natural beauty that define why we live and visit here are what Amara at Paraiso is all about. It couldn’t exist anywhere else,” says Schwartz. “This restaurant is in the unique position to bring it all together. It’s our love letter to Miami and why we are proud to call it home.”
Highlighting the open kitchen’s wood grill and Josper charcoal oven, the vibrant menu celebrates clean-eating food and cooking techniques centered around the flame. Dinner is divided into Snacks, Small, Medium, and Large plates, Vegetables/Sides, and “From the Wood Grill” dishes that are paired appropriately from amongst six complementary and signature Amara Mother Sauces.
Snacks include Grilled Flatbread with chimichurri, fried oregano and lemon; hand-formed Empanadas with Short Rib with olive, raisin and chimichurri, baked in a flakey lard crust; and Corn and Leek with roasted poblano, mozzarella and smoked paprika aioli, fried in a yuca crust. Dish highlights include Banana Leaf Wrapped Cobia with mashed yuca, pickled vegetables, coconut chutney, and grilled lime; Grilled Beef Short Rib with shaved cabbage, Marcona almonds, grilled peppers, and sour orange; and the Amara Feijoada, a beautifully composed spread built around a cazuela filled with layers of specially cooked-ingredients tied together on a bed of deep red, savory Domingo Rojo beans from heirloom purveyor Rancho Grande. Sides include Long Cooked Broad Beans with breadcrumbs and basil.
The beverage program by Assistant General Manager Maria Pottage mirrors Amara at Paraiso’s menu, inspired by Latin American ingredients, artisanal producers of spirits and winemakers, and Miami’s lively melting pot. Cocktails are served on-tap, as single servings or punch bowls, bottled, and shaken or stirred. Calm Before The Coconut recalls a sense of tropical place with Diplomatico Planas rum, Velvet Falernum coconut crème, coconut water, pineapple, lime, salt, and nutmeg, served in a chilled coconut. Pisco Cafecito is bottled and combines Barsol Quebranta pisco, Don Ciccio Nocino, Luxardo Angioletto, cold brew and chocolate bitters. La Fresa is served in a coupe, with fresh, local strawberries infused in Plantation 3 Stars rum, ginger, lime and a strawberry garnish. Sommelier Amanda Fraga’s wine program highlights selections from North and South America, with iconic favorites from Europe to round out the list.
Designed as a key part of the Related’s Paraiso District to complement the resort-style living for the soon-to-be residents of the Paraiso development, the restaurant occupies the ground floor of the free-standing Paraiso Beach Club and will soon be flanked by Paraiso Park and boat slips. Amara at Paraiso is ideally located just two blocks east of Biscayne Boulevard, offering the public unimpeded access to its entrance with street and valet parking.
The 4,500-square-foot, indoor-outdoor space designed by Meyer Davis Studio, with direct input from the Related and Schwartz teams, celebrates the tropical, bayside environment as an effortless design element to unify the natural beauty of the restaurant’s surroundings. The restaurant includes main dining room and bar seating for 150, with floor to ceiling windows offering dramatic Biscayne Bay views, as well as deck seating for 70 on the water. Its stunning location and versatile menu make Amara at Paraiso an ideal venue for private dining and events. The approach is warm and inviting, drawing the outside in with white washed paneling, natural woods, and graphic concrete tiles. Detailing is open, honest and relaxed with exposed trusses, and an open double-height steel stair.
Amara at Paraiso is located at 3101 NE 7th Ave, Miami, FL 33137. The restaurant will be open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 6:00 to 10:00pm, Friday and Saturday 6:00pm to 12:00am, and Sunday 6:00pm to 10:00pm. For reservations visit amaraatparaiso.com, email email@example.com or call 305-702-5528. Amara is available for private parties and events; for groups larger than 12 guests email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information including menus, please visit amaraatparaiso.com and follow @amaraatparaiso on social media (where there are lots of Instagram Stories to catch up on!)
Genuine Pizza will open its first Atlanta location on Friday at the main entrance of Phipps Plaza in the heart of Buckhead. This will be our first pizzeria out of state and with a private dining room… as well as our first restaurant where it snows! We’ve been working so hard to get open that somehow these little things are just astounding in their magnitude when you have a brief pause to reflect on them. The team on the ground is working just as tirelessly to bring this place to life from front and back of house. The goal is to exude that Genuine Culture we know and love at home.
Originating in Miami, where we have now for casual pizza restaurants, the idea is about on honest ingredients, creative toppings combinations, and a thoughtful experience from dough to table. Genuine Pizza Atlanta looks like the fraternal twin of Aventura, with a menu anchored by 12 hand-formed pizzas featuring a tender, quick-fired crust and snacks, soups, salads, entrées and dessert to make a meal around it. The restaurant also offers a list of wines that work great with food, as well as Atlanta craft beers. Signature items include Short Rib Pizza; Polenta Fries with spicy ketchup; Warm Brussels Sprouts and Burrata; and Chocolate Chunk Cookie, warmed in the oven to order. Every day there is a Daily pizza special and a soup of the day.
“We are passionate about our favorite food and can’t wait to bring our genuine approach to the Atlanta community,” says Michael Schwartz. “We’re introducing classic dishes from our flagship location while embracing our new Atlanta community as we fold in seasonal offerings, local beer selections and gluten-free options.”
Genuine Pizza is located at 3500 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30326 in Phipps Plaza and opens with lunch and dinner beginning Friday. Hours of operation are Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Friday to Saturday 11 – 12 a.m., and Sunday 12 – 10 p.m. Reservations are not necessary. Phipps Plaza offers plenty of complimentary outdoor as well as covered parking, and valet. Takeout will be available with online ordering at genuinepizza.com, and Genuine fans can also give the gift of pizza with electronic gift cards, now available for purchase as well on the website. Follow the new location and join the conversation @genuinepizza and #genuinepizza on Instagram, where the team has been actively sharing stories as we count down.Genuine Pizza is family-friendly and can seat 64 inside, including 7 seats at the counter and 6 at the pizza bar. Outdoor dining for 36 is available weather permitting with heaters. The space also offers a private dining room for 6-8 guests – perfect for business lunches and intimate gatherings – that can be reserved by calling (470) 481-3883.
Traveling to The Bahamas just got a whole lot tastier! Fi’lia by Michael Schwartz opens today just a 42 minute pond jump away on Nassau. Located on the Baha Mar property in the main casino floor just steps from SLS Baha Mar, the new 299-room hotel our partners at sbe opened last month, this is the restaurant’s first international outpost and second location after opening at SLS Brickell in Miami last year.
Chef, Bradley, Eric and I were down last week as part of the last wave of visits and some yet-to-depart implants collectively known as “task force”. This system in place to support Fi’lia’s opening team from start to finish line — think part placenta, part brain trust — involves an orchestra of players from sbe and The Genuine Hospitality group with expertise in front and back of house. On our agenda was mock service, tastings, final menu formatting, food and spacial shoots, and fine tuning the dining room for lighting and sound. Where the bulk of the important foundational work occurs gradually over a period of months tracked methodically through a “critical path” spreadsheet and meetings to check in on progress, the 11th hour is a critical stage in the process visible even to the untrained eye where everything comes into sharp focus.
The idea is to make sure there is enough institutional knowledge and depth on the ground to have the resources required to handle anything thrown the restaurant’s way. This is an all-hands-on-deck troubleshooting and brain-stretching exercise, where you have planned for everything especially the things you can’t control. From menu covers stuck in LA to cocktail tags printed from the only Miami vendor that was open and able the week before the holiday to mule with cookbooks in checked luggage, it ain’t always pretty… but this is what openings are all about and why we love what we do. And then you have a restaurant!
“The hospitality on island has been second to none, and we are fortunate to have a hard working team that is digging in with a smile in the true Bahamian spirit,” says Chef. “We can’t wait to share with guests the same incredible welcome we’ve experienced here in The Bahamas!”
We have a particular soft spot for a familiar face — Fi’lia’s Executive Chef Thomas Tennant — veteran of the TGHG culinary family who comes with Caribbean seasoning from his time on Grand Cayman as chef de cuisine of Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink. Later leading menu implementation, working with international staff and honing his talent for “fixing” provisions from the lower decks with Royal Caribbean, Thomas earned the TGHG title of “Special Ops Chef” for a reason and those skills will no doubt serve him here.
Fi’lia is inspired by the simplicity of Italian cuisine, featuring a menu of straightforward dishes that highlight fresh, seasonal ingredients, housemade pasta and memorable signatures like the Tableside Caesar Salads. Like Miami, Fi’lia’s dinner menu features Small, Large and Extra Large plates alongside Snacks, Sides, Pasta and Pizza. To start, Beef Carpaccio is Chef Schwartz’s twist on the classic featuring sunchoke, green onion pecorino and mustard vinaigrette, while the Extra Large Grilled Whole Snapper features tomato, Calabrian chile, mint and grilled bread. Rustic pizzas are served with creative topping combinations like Pistachio Pesto with ricotta, charred onion and pecorino.
The Tableside Caesar is prepared from scratch from dressing to grated parmigiano finish on a roaming cart, dispatching delicious smells of toasted garlic croutons in the dining room as it passes. Cocktails are refreshingly uncomplicated with specialties including a section of Spritz. With a focused wine list, Fi’lia celebrates Italian, regional varietals and American wines with an old world sensibility.
Located at One Baha Mar Blvd, Nassau, The Bahamas at Baha Mar Casino, Fi’lia is open Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. serving lunch and dinner. For reservations and menus, please visit filiarestaurant.com or call 242-788-8212. As part of sbe’s larger movement to bring signature specialties in innovative cuisine and dynamic nightlife to The Bahamas, the group also operates Cleo, Monkey Bar (the signature SLS lobby bar) and Bungalow Pool Bar & Grill at SLS Baha Mar, with Privilege and Skybar coming in early 2018. Additionally, Katsuya (sbe’s modern take on classic Japanese cuisine) opened in mid-August on the Baha Mar Casino floor, and Bond, sbe’s nightlife concept, is debuting December 29th, offering late-night entertainment as the destination’s see-and-be-seen place to be.
Here’s to the notion we can always try harder, do more, make it nicer, work smarter, dough more precisely, fine tune the process, and be better at being genuine. Change can be scary, but we think same is scarier. Introducing the evolution of our favorite spot for pizza, with a nod to where it all began. Please join us in welcoming Genuine Pizza to the dance floor. We are truly passionate about our favorite food!
This evolution has been years in the making, to see and see through an opportunity to bring more genuine pizza into the world, and we are thrilled to announce today that Harry’s Holdings, LLC. has secured a $2.5MM investment from the Florida Opportunity Fund to support the expansion of the Genuine Pizza concept. We will unveil the first location at the Aventura Mall in November, featuring new restaurant design, branding and signage, while maintaining the popular and familiar current menu. Existing Harry’s Pizzeria locations will stay as Harry’s, but will eventually transition as we all get to know our new home.
“The new Genuine Pizza brand is not just a nod to Chef Schwartz’s flagship Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, but also a much more appropriate articulation of our pizzeria’s mission and approach. Our use of the word Genuine is meant to portray a sincere and honest approach. Whether it is our ingredients, recipes and execution, flavor combinations or our hospitality, we strive to be Genuine in everything we do,” says Harry’s Holdings CEO Sunil Bhatt. “We are thrilled at the reception our new pizzerias in Miami’s Design District, Coconut Grove and Downtown Dadeland have received, and with the support of the Florida Opportunity Fund, we have a great opportunity to open many new Genuine Pizza locations over the next several years. For many of us, pizza is our favorite food and it is an honor and a privilege to share our interpretation more widely.”
The Florida Opportunity Fund investment will back Genuine Pizza’s rollout to 18 locations over the next few years, including Aventura (November), Atlanta (December), Cleveland and Miami Beach (2018), and Sunrise (2019). “We are excited to work with a world-class management team to bring the Genuine Pizza experience to more people in Florida and around the country,” said Jennifer Dunham, a Partner with Florida First Partners, investment advisor to the Florida Opportunity Fund.
Genuine Pizza is guided by a few important pillars: honest ingredients from trusted sources that care and make the best products; chef-curated, simple topping combinations that work great together, from someone who knows and cares; a deliberate process for doing things thoughtfully; an enthusiastic and passionate team who loves the food and approach to hospitality; a tireless effort to never settle, not only innovating with new menu items, but looking at how we can do everything better; and a sincerity and lack of pretension.
The new restaurant interior by Miami-based craft and construction firm McKenzie features light woods and simple accents like custom yellow and grey Cuban tile, orange chairs, and the yellow-tiled Marra Forni oven. The environment invites guests to experience the attention to detail first hand, at a pizza bar fronting the open kitchen and a glass-faced dough room at the entrance where the recipe is mixed, kneaded and proofed daily. The new logo design incorporates the word Genuine in script typeface with an ear of wheat at the end, to emphasize a main ingredient in the daily handmade dough.