West Coast Appeal
Restaurateur Stephen Starr has shown good taste to South Florida gourmets with favorites like Steak 954, Verde, The Continental and Le Zoo, and we’ve demonstrated our love right back with return visits and social-media postings galore. For his fifth restaurant in these parts, Starr has joined forces with celebrated and talented chef Justin Smillie to bring us Upland in Miami Beach’s South of Fifth enclave.
A sister outpost to the New York City original, Upland is named after Smillie’s Southern California hometown and features cuisine inspired by the Golden State—cuisine, we might add, that inspired critic Pete Wells of The New York Times to call him a “pasta savant” and a “vegetable sage.”
“I think Southern Californian cuisine is appealing because it’s clean, light and approachable,” says Smillie. “I’m superexcited to be in Miami and can’t wait to [incorporate] local farm ingredients and cooking influences into my menu.”
Said menu ($13 to $72) is divided into sections labeled One, Two and Three, thereby clearly giving diners an idea of what kind of portion to expect. Starter highlights include the Little Gem Salad with avocado, cucumber, ricotta salata and walnut vinaigrette ($18) and crispy duck wings with lemon, olive oil and yuzu kosho ($26). Pasta selections feature a pappardelle with spicy sausage ragu, kale and Parmigiano ($24) and estrella with chicken liver, sherry, rosemary and sage ($21). In the main dishes section, the cioppino with clams, red shrimp, mussels, market fish and jumbo lump crab ($37) or the chargrilled Cypress Grove wagyu rib-eye with charred onion-porcini jam ($65) do right by big appetites.
The eatery’s design vibe comes courtesy of Roman & Williams, which has incorporated touches—natural oak, elegant leather, patinated copper—that will be familiar to those who have visited the Park Avenue location.
As much of a success as Manhattan’s Upland has proven to be, Smillie knows Miami diners can be fickle, even with a proven winner, but he’s not worried. “South Florida and Southern California have similar tastes in food and health-conscious consumers with sophisticated tastes,” he says. “I think Upland will be a great fit for Miami Beach.” 49 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305.602.9998
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