MC Kitchen in Miami’s Design District was the Italian restaurant of choice when I asked Top Chef All-Star Fabio Viviani where he wanted to eat. It seems the cuisine of owner/chef Dena Marino is one of the few that pass muster. Plus, he and Ms. Marino are old buddies from the celebrity chef circuit — which was great for us, as she sent out many unexpected and delicious dishes to sample.
Chef Vivani is in town ahead of the fall opening of the South Beach outpost of his successful Chicago eatery, Siena Tavern. The restaurant is his fourth in the U.S., but he owned and operated five different restaurants in Florence, Italy before the age of 27.
HL: Is there any similarity between your restaurant, Siena Tavern and MC Kitchen.
FV: Yes, she does her menu based on season and availability, that’s how you do it to have fresh food. Also, we really try to source 90 percent of our ingredients within 100 miles of the restaurant, it supports the local community and can give better produce.
HL: What do you like here
FV: One of my favorite dishes here is the Brussels Sprouts Black Truffle Pizza, it delicious, its really good.
HL: Tell me about your pizza.
FV: At Siena Tavern we are going to have one of the top pizza guys in Italy, someone who have done nothing but pizza his entire life. He has mastered the chemistry behind the air the humidity the climate. In New York and Chicago it’s different from Miami. We have to get it right. I have one of the best pizzas in Chicago, which is a bold statement, I’m just broadcasting what I’ve been told and what’s been written. But if I use the same recipe here as I use in Chicago, the pizza won’t be nearly as good.
H: How do you do it?
F: Our flour is custom made at a mill in Italy. It’s made for use based on the climate, the oven, the combination with the air
You are taking over the old China Grill space, it’s big!
FV: Yes, it’s 10,000 square feet, but we will have different sections within the restaurant. People will be able to be casual, or dressy. We want to price it right and try to make it accessible. Were trying to provide a value, …you know that if you had a piece of bread, we will have made it, along with every single piece of pasta. Absolutely everything will be done in the house there is value in that. It will be rustic, good food.
HL: Besides MC Kitchen, where else do you like to eat in Miami?
FV: I really enjoy the food Michelle Bernstein makes, Cecconi’s and I love Prime 112. It’s my go-to spot with my fiance whenever we are in Miami. The food is so good, I don’t really care if I’d have to wait for a table.
Fabio Viviani is currently starring in the new reality show, Life After Top Chef, and is a recurring guest on Good Morning America, The Talk, The Chew, Ellen Degeneres, and the Today Show. He’s also a regular headliner at global food shows, Fabio endorses Bialetti Cookwear, Bertolli Olive Oil, and Terlato Wine International. He also has his own line of ceramic cookware available at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. He is the author of two successful cookbooks, The Café Firenze Cookbook and The Skinny Country, and also the Amazon.com e-book bestseller, Did I Really Make Breakfast?
Photos by Hadley Henriette