One of only a handful of James Beard Award-winning chefs in Miami, Michelle Bernstein carries some serious gravitas in the local culinary scene. So when news of a potential new restaurant hits our radar, we pay attention—even if she isn’t the one doing the cooking.
Opening today at the Bayside Marketplace, Caribbean restaurant La Cañita comes to us from Bernstein, her business partner and husband, David Martinez, David Borgia and Orestes Pajon. The four partnered on the Latin-American/Caribbean concept that brings together cuisines from Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Puerto Rico, among other sun-soaked islands. While the team enlisted someone else to go behind the line, Bernstein is very much in charge of what you’ll see on the menu. She’s peppered in her signature empanadas, an assortment of sandwiches and substantial Cuban plates, like the chicken fricassee and arroz con pollo. Other standouts include conch fritters, jerk-kissed chicken wings, snapper filet and a 305 rum cake.
“La Cañita is quintessential Miami,” says Martinez, who also owns co-owns Sweet Liberty and Café La Trova, where Bernstein devised the menus. “We are so fortunate to have this melting pot of cultural and culinary influences in this city, and we hope to put them front-and-center with our new concept-driven restaurant.” The restaurant’s indoor/outdoor design plays heavily into its tropical image, including its pastel hues, cement finishing and waterfront views. According to the press release, architects intended to evoke the industrial feel of a Caribbean distillery and, judging by the restaurant’s first images, they succeeded. We’re sure the slew of craft cocktails, like the five different types of mojitos on the menu, will really drive the point home.