Surfside is not necessarily on the culinary radar of Miami foodies. Sure there's crowd-pleasing Cafe Ragazzi with its packed tables and waitlist of hungry diners chatting amicably on the sidewalk with glasses of wine on a nightly basis, and Moroccan Nights seems to have resurrected itself with thumping belly-dancing parties now that the SEASON has kicked in, and of course there's Cine Citta, a stylish kosher eatery, but on the whole, the strip of Harding Avenue south of the Bal Harbour Shops has yet to prove itself as a dining destination. Lo and behold - the Food Gang - savior of discerning palates in the neighborhood. Part restaurant, part gourmet food shop, Food Gang sells a variety of epicurean delights - from Petrossian caviar to tea from French retailer Fauchon to $7 boxes of pasta from Cipriani's of Venice.
There's also an astounding variety of wine and champagne available. It's surprising that the neighborhood waited this long for a substantial wine shop (Big Daddy's not withstanding).
The grand opening party Wednesday drew a mixed crowd - it may be on the beach, but Surfside still has its share of bouffants and guyaberras. But it seemed like the town commissioners and grandmas were having a capitol time tasting all that expensive caviar, cheese and assorted charcuterie and making those bartenders work for their dollar tip (overheard: "You've got to muddle
the maraschino cherries when you make a sidecar!"). That said, this ain't your grannie's restaurant: the decor is fresh and clean with lots of orange, white and wood. There's a substantial bar and when the lights dim, a downright sexy loungey feel to the spot. Helming the kitchen is Miami chef Howard Kleinberg (formerly of Ivy Aventura) and he's more than capable of churning out inspired creations with exquisite ingredients.
On display for tasting were platters of exceptionally crisp potato pancakes topped with tuna tartare - a mini-meal itself. Spoons of wild mushroom risotto yielded deep and chewy goodness.
Dessert platters included delicate mini-chocolate chip cookies with chasers of milkshakes or kahlua and hazelnut cream.