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Chef’s Choice: KYU’s Michael Lewis dishes on his favorite Miami restaurants

Virginia Gil

If you don’t know of chef Michael Lewis, there’s a high chance you do know his food. His cooking has made smashing successes of Wynwood restaurants KYU and LAID Fresh, he’s cooked at the James Beard House in New York and single-handedly introduced Miami to the Asian barbecue trend that’s swept the country. And this month, he teams up with Michael Pirolo of Macchialina to host two culinary mash-up events.

On Monday, August 12, the two will convene in South Beach for $10 cocktails, from Asian piña coladas and classic Negronis to playful punches, and complimentary bites—think short rib and stuffed ravioli. Then on August 26, the two will cook a multi-course feast celebrating both their culinary styles. “The ideas we’ve come up with are going to be tasty AF and a true collaboration of ideas, flavors and techniques,” shares Lewis of the menu he and Pirolo have put together.

Ahead of what’s set up to be a busy month for Lewis, we caught up with the chef to find out where he goes on his ever so fleeting downtime. From making pasta runs with the family and exploring his neighborhood to going on sandwich pilgrimages to Broward, here’s where you’ll find him. 

On what he’d rather buy than make himself:  

Fresh pasta. Though I love making fresh pasta and gnocchi at home with my family around, listening to some good music and probably a glass a wine in hand; the clean up after is never fun. We love Macchialina for their pasta. Mike Pirolo has a deft hand and a perfect balance of Italy meets NY-Italian. So light and fresh with just a hint of NYC childhood food memories.

On his favorite drunk food: 

With two young children at home, the amount of drunken/ late-night meals for the wife and I has declined significantly. The closest we get is the brisket tacos at La Santana Taqueria in the Proyecto Tulum. They’re close to KYU and LAID fresh, fresh and tasty AF.

On his neighborhood haunts:

Living in Miami Shores; there are not many options worth discussing. That said, Wynwood is really my ’hood and other then the obvious choices of KYU and LAID fresh my go-to would be Le Chick. The guys there are so nice and professional and make one of the best burgers in town.

On the only restaurant he’ll travel for: 

Panna Café in Weston. Because the cachito de jamón is to die for

On his go-to cocktail order: 

Japanese whiskey high ball at KYU, hands down. Such a simple cocktail but our bar team puts a subtle yet interesting twist on it that the cheekily named Hi Paul is super crushable.

On his guilty pleasure:

Prime rib and baked potato. I honestly really love my vegetables but sometimes (not that often) I crave steak and potatoes. When we get that craving the family and I head to Houston’s. It’s close, family-friendly and consistently good. 


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