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Novecento, AGO, Tantra, Taverna Opa, Sardinian, or the River Oyster Bar

Sorry - I already posted this with a different title - thought this one would get more hits.....Thanks to those who have already made suggestions!

We've been given a $100 gift certificate for Miami, and our choices for redemption are Novecento, AGO, Tantra, Taverna Opa, Sardinian, and the River Oyster Bar - which would you hounds choose? Additional cost is not an issue, but the food and wine must be outstanding! Preferably within short cab ride of Collins & Lincoln.

The menus all look pretty good, so tell me about the quality of the food and wine!

Thx all!

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  1. Considering your restrictions, Ago and Sardinia are the ones your choices would be narrowed down to.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lax2mia

      Foodwise sardinia is better than ago. I view ago as good but nothing special especially considering the price (with the exception of their burrata which is awesome). River oyster is great but is not convenient cabwise for you. Tantra is not good and can't really comment on Novecento.

      I am no wine expert but am 99% sure you get better value at Sardinia than Ago. Sardinia has lots of italian and sardinian wines at what I understand are good values for a restaurant.

    2. I just had dinner on Thursday night with a wine producer from Tuscany. he said this is as good as it gets for Italian in recent memory in Florida.
      We had a squid appetizer with peas and a tomoato broth, outstanding. As far as main course, we had Pasta with Quanciale, Pasta with Lamb meatballs, Wild Salmon, and also Sea Bass in a salt crust.
      The food was amazing. The wine list was all Italian, which is perfect. We had a Sardinian wine and a Aglianico from Feudi di San Gregorio and a Prosecco to start with. Have a great time and let me know what you think.

      Ciao

      3 Replies
      1. re: horvath42

        Hey, Horvath42,

        Where are you referring to? Sardinia? I appreciate your comments, so am really looking forward to hearing which restaurant you are referring to.

        Ciao.

      2. I still really like Tantra and think the food is good. We were just there a week or so ago and popped in for a glass of wine and the Love Apple.

        2 Replies
        1. re: BlueHerons

          Thanks all! As I read through various threads, I definitely get that Tantra is not worth the money. Sardinia seems to be the one with the best resports. Sarndinia it is!

          1. Hopefully Frodnesor chimes in here....he really hits a lot of places and gives very solid advice....I like Novecento ALOT.....the food there is really outstanding.....great bar.....fun atmosphere....and depending when you go....good people-watching......It's not on Miami Beach but close enough to take the cab ride I think....Tavarna Opa is awesome....We had our corporate Christmas party there last year for 35 and we had a great time...The good was quite good...and it is a ROWDY party destination.....If you're looking for something quiet and romantic...this is not the place....EVERYBODY dances on tables and they do have belly dancers too...We did have a GREAT time there....Frod, chime in at any time.....I always enjoy your input.....

            EMac

            2 Replies
            1. re: LargeLife

              Um there is a novecento on 9th and alton so no need to go to the one on Biscayne if you are on the beach already. I have also heard many many bad things about the food at the Biscayne location and would never go. Also the food at Taverna Opa is not one fraction as good as Sardinia. It is quite a bit rowdier though. I will admit that.

              Frod may feel free to post but Lax and I gave the top two choices.

              1. re: tpigeon

                As I have read through stuff on each of these, I definitely think Sardinia is our best choice. Not looking for rowdy at all, and the menu at Novecento doesn't look nearly as interesting as Sardinia.

                Having said that, love to hear from Frod too with his feedback!

            2. Appreciate the shout-out, but the only one of these places that I've eaten at is Sardinia - which I would happily recommend. Any other comments would be hearsay, with one additional note - I only recently figured out that the chef/owner from River Oyster Bar, David Bracha, is the same guy that ages ago was at a short-lived restaurant called 411 on South Beach (in the space which is now apparently Harrison's Steakhouse), and from there went to Fishbone Grill for some time. I still remember a dish of his that appeared in various guises on both menus - crabcakes w/ a smokehouse almond tartar sauce. The guy can definitely cook and so I need to figure out why I haven't gotten myself to River Oyster Bar yet.

              Unlike the others, though R.O.B. will take you off South Beach.

              10 Replies
              1. re: Frodnesor

                Since you are a ceviche purist, you will really like River Oysters Ceviche. Other than that, go for their bbq stuff, it is better than their seafood (I like their seafood too though).

                1. re: Frodnesor

                  Frod hasn't been to River, Frod hasn't been to River, nah, nah, nah-nah, nah.

                  Sorry, couldn't resist. I'm surprised you haven't been either. I think you'd quite enjoy it. It's got a Michael's vibe but before Michael's existed. I agree with t in that the ceviche is very old school (he prepared it on the River episode of Check Please!) and extremely tasty. And as t mentioned, their grilled stuff is good but if there's a choice between steak or seafood I always go for the latter and there are some seafood dishes that are worth it, in particular the whole pompano when available. And don't laugh, but the crabcakes that you mentioned from 411 are on the menu and they're delicious (accompanied with a dried cherry slaw that goes great with the smokehouse almond sauce). OK, go ahead and laugh, it's kinda funny.

                  1. re: lax2mia

                    The crabcakes on the menu are what clued me in, I then went back and looked at the chef's bio and made the connections (I had always thought someone at Fishbone had just stolen the idea, never figured out it was the same chef - doh).

                    I'm actually not a ceviche purist at all, I like the many varieties they do at Jaguar and Ola, for instance, many of which are pretty untraditional. Just not a big fan of the way at Francesco the fish is absolutely drowned in the sauces, which to me obscures rather than enhances the star ingredient. I tried to get the traditional style at Francesco on my last visit but was outvoted by the rest of the table. While on this off-topic diversion, I should add that Yakko-San has been doing a ceviche of local octopus my past couple visits that I think is fantastic.

                    The R.O.B. ceviche did look good (in fact I think that was the point during the show that I said "Why haven't I gone there yet?").

                    1. re: Frodnesor

                      Geeezzz......Now I'm thinking we'll have to consider ROB. The wine menu looks amazing, and so does the menu. I like the idea of the little plates.....I have to think about this one...Sardinia.....River Oyster Bar......hmmmmmmm - even if the cab ride is farther....what do you think?

                      1. re: Food on the brain

                        Maybe as a tourist, I would be more intrigued to try River Oyster Bar more than Sardinia simply because it's more "Miami." But really, they both are good places - just go with something that you may not have back at home.

                        1. re: Food on the brain

                          Just to further confuse things - if you like eating "small plates" style, the vegetable antipasti, cheeses and salumi at Sardinia are excellent (usually about a half-dozen or so choices of each, and you can put together plates of either 3 or 5 of each for a pretty reasonable sum). And Sardinia has an interesting, predominantly Italian wine list (including wines from a much broader selection of Italian regions than you'll typically see elsewhere).

                          1. re: Food on the brain

                            Your cab ride will be at least $25 each way for river oyster. You might be able to get a cab back to sobe easier now that mary brickell is there but I would not guarantee it.

                            Foodwise, though they are very different, I like sardinia a little better, but you can't go wrong with either. If you decide on ROB, you must get the bbq ribs there.

                            1. re: tpigeon

                              Looking forward to trying Sardinia given the great reviews. Can't believe I missed that place! Gotta get there. I will respectfully disagree with tpigeon on the comments about Novecento...and I presume you're talking about the 1414 Brickell location....I've eaten there many, many times....Both by myself....and entertaining parties of 20 or more...and the food they've turned out for us has been nothing less than oustanding.....I do think service there can be improved and it's a bit slow / laidback at times....But the food has always been outstanding......That's all!

                              EMac

                              1. re: LargeLife

                                All your thoughts and reviews are much appreciated! We're usually in Miami once every few months, so we'll try both! For these gift certificates, I think we will go with Sardinia, as we'll only have 1 night in town this time. Next time we'll have a car and will definitely try ROB!

                                "Back home" is Nassau, so there is lots we don't find here! Glad that we had the options, though, or I would never have learned about ROB. Hey, maybe we'll do ROB for lunch and Sardinia for dinner! Hmmm......

                                Thx again!

                                1. re: Food on the brain

                                  Mmmm, I just checked out the wine list at Sardinia more carefully - some really nice Amarones on there - perfect for hubby's bday....:-)

                                  My mind is made up, I'm entering my selection now....