By Mitchell Nover,
Tucked away on Giralda Avenue, just off the crowded sidewalks of Miracle Mile, a heavenly dining experience awaits in the form of Zielo Restaurant. With its bright, modern décor, this relative newcomer to the Coral Gables restaurant scene offers diners a refined and refreshing take on International fare.
At the helm is Head Chef William Hernandez, a Dominican native raised in Miami. Better known by his fans as “Chef Willy,” his eclectic menu fuses together the best of Mediterranean, Latin, Caribbean and Asian flavors.
After making a selection from the more than 90 fine wines and champagnes our culinary adventure began with a Tuna “Tostone” appetizer ($13), consisting of seared ahi tuna served over avocado salad on a crispy tostone. The crunch of the plantain, coupled with the creaminess of the avocado, proved to an outstanding vehicle for the tuna. Considering the courses that were still to come, this was a perfectly light beginning to our meal.
Taking a cue from the traditional Italian dining style, Zielo offers a rice and pasta section on their menu meant to be eaten as a second course, after the appetizer and before the entrée. While somewhat nervous to indulge, especially knowing that a full main course still awaited, our waiter advised that we could pick one dish to split. Thanks to his recommendation, indulge we did, deciding on the Prawn and Pine-nut Risotto ($25). We would have been remiss to let this opportunity to pass us by, as this delectably creamy concoction of champagne-toasted pine nuts, goat cheese risotto and grilled prawns was the star of the night.
For the mains, we selected the Grouper Mustard Style ($27) and the Florida Yellow Tail ($24). If I’m being honest, these dishes did not totally live up to expectations, albeit having an extremely tough act to follow. The grouper, served over smashed sweet plantains with a flambeau Ancienne mustard cream sauce, was the better of the two entrees with the crispiness of the fish pairing nicely with the sweetness of the plantains and the tartness of the mustard sauce. On the other hand, the yellow tail, topped with fresh tomatoes and oregano over steamed asparagus, was simply overwhelmed by an off-putting fishy flavor.
Despite this slight misstep, we were not to be deterred from trying dessert. Redemption came in the form of a Guava Flan ($8). The delightful acidity of the guava cut through the lusciously creamy flan, coming together for a sweet, but not too sweet, dessert course – and an amazing end to a delectable meal.
Next time you’re in Coral Gables and looking for some fine dining without the pretense, take a step off the Mile and head over to Zielo Restaurant. With their great food, good wine and friendly service, you won’t be disappointed.
Hours of Operation: Monday – Wednesday: 11:30am to 3:00pm; 5:00pm to 10:00pm
Thursday – Saturday: 11:00am to 11:00pm
Closed on Sundays