There’s an old saying in restaurants: good food, good service, good ambiance—pick two. In Miami, it’s often: good food, clubby scene—pick one. There are exceptions, of course, and Doya is one, a place where the indoor-outdoor space is as lively as an Italian house party and trays of excellent and shareable Aegean dishes fill tables.
Those plates come from a kitchen run by chef Erhan Kostepen, formerly of Mandolin Aegean Bistro, one of Miami’s longtime favorite restaurants. At Doya, Kostepen took Mandolin’s concept of creating simply prepared meze dishes that serve to highlight a few well-sourced ingredients. The tomato and feta salad, for instance, is little more than just that, dressed in olive oil with oregano and capers, and just perfect because it doesn’t try to be anything more. Then there’s the eggplant, sliced lengthwise and roasted until almost candied, served room temperature with labneh yogurt and pomegranate.
Move on to the hot section and start with the pide that’s filled with cheese and sliced black truffle—$22 for this killer little pizza boat seems like a steal in Wynwood. While most of the dishes here are meant to be shared, there are entree-sized items too, like lamb chops or wood-fired kebabs, and grilled Turkish kofte meatballs. The fisherman’s seafood stew comes served for two, with mussels, shrimp and branzino in a spicy and thick tomato broth plus a couple of grilled slices of toast ready for dipping.
We’d go to a Davie strip mall for dishes this good but, thankfully, Doya’s dining room looks like an upscale Parisian bistro, with massive paned mirrors on the walls, artful wicker-like light fixtures and a mishmash of tables and chairs giving the place the feel of a fancy living space. Come on a good night and they’ll push open a wall of windows to bring the outside in, or just grab a seat in the charming garden, where scattered potted plants make it feel as if you’ve arrived at a cozy backyard get-together.
Doya, it seems, managed to do the thing so many restaurants just can’t seem to achieve: excellent food in a space that makes it feel like a special night out.