THE VILLAGES OF CORAL GABLES
ART IN PUBLIC PLACES
PLUS THE NEW CITY COMMISSIONERS THE ART OF AGING WELL RESTAURANT OPENINGS
MAGAZINE MAY 2023
Alirio Torrealba, CEO of MG Developer, looking over The Village at Coral Gables
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I THINK THIS VOTE ADDRESSES THE RESIDENT’S CONCERNS THAT THEY ARE NOT REPRESENTED AT CITY HALL... ”
6 coralgablesmagazine.com May 2023 INSIDE THIS ISSUE Departments EDITOR’S NOTE Listen to the Tea Leaves READERS’ LETTERS Readers’ Feedback STREETWISE The New City Commissioners LIVING “El Huracán” Comes to GableStage BITES The Italian Experience at Tullio PEOPLE Notable Coral Gables Residents HOME & GARDEN A Walk About Our City Beautiful DINING GUIDE The Best in Gables Dining CITY LIFE Photo Quiz... What is This Now? 10 37 88 12 47 15 84 96 27 27 15
SUE KAWALERSKI OF THE CORAL GABLES NEIGH-
ASSOCIATION. SEE STREETWISE, PAGE 18. “ 37
ART FOR EVERYONE
The Art in Public Places program celebrates the culture and beauty of our city. The program seeks to elevate the pedestrian experience through the commissioning, acquiring, and exhibiting of a variety of artworks throughout the Gables.
UNRAVELING MERRICK’S VILLAGES
One of the unique architectural elements of the city’s fabric are the seven themed ‘villages’ planned – and partially executed – by city father George Merrick.
THE 8TH VILLAGE
George Merrick planned many more villages than those he built. Is the new Village at Coral Gables, developed by Alirio Torrealba of MG Developer and designed by De La Guardia & Victoria Architects & Urbanists, heir to his vision?
THE ART OF AGING WELL
Today’s Coral Gables senior living communities are much more than yesterday’s “retirement homes,” with activities and programs scientifically designed to keep older folks engaged, healthy, smart, and happy.
8 coralgablesmagazine.com INSIDE THIS ISSUE Vol 6. Issue 5
54 62 74 68 54 62 68
Why It Matters: Jacky and Matthew Horowitz
Jacky Horowitz suffered from frequent headaches for nearly 10 years. But when she began to experience blurred vision and numbness in her face, she knew something was seriously wrong. After several tests, she received the diagnosis: a brain aneurysm.
Jacky was treated by Italo Linfante, M.D., director of interventional neuroradiology at Baptist Health. Dr. Linfante, whom Jacky describes as “the most calming person I ever met,” inserted a stent via a minimally invasive endovascular procedure, alleviating the aneurysm and preventing a dangerous rupture. Now an advocate for taking control of your health, Jacky is immensely grateful for the lifesaving treatment and compassionate care — what she calls “science and support” — she received.
This kind of care is available thanks to the generosity of donors to Baptist Health Foundation. Philanthropy is helping fund research, enhance patient care and recruit the best minds in medicine – physicians like Dr. Linfante. “We’re lucky we’re in Miami with an excellent hospital and all these resources,” Jacky says. “I’m very grateful to the donors, because without them, the resources really wouldn’t be there.”
Generosity supports the science that saves lives.
Photo by Lynn Parks
You can help provide life-changing care for patients like Jacky. BaptistHealth.net/GenerosityHeals or 786-467-5400
Listen to the Tea Leaves
One of our features this month is about the Village at Coral Gables, a new development that will occupy an entire block just north of the War Memorial Youth Center. It is a low-rise collection of beautifully designed Mediterranean-style buildings, designed by the Coral Gables-based, award-winning firm De La Guardia Victoria Architects & Urbanists.
What makes the project so appealing is not just that it is scaled correctly and designed in a style that is perfectly compatible with Coral Gables, but that it is also built within the zoning code, no exceptions asked or granted.
As we look at the remarkable election for two new city commissioners which just took place (see page 18), the salient motivation for voters was the issue of over-development. As Coral Gables Neighbors Association president Sue Kawalerski notes, “We are not against development, just over-development that does not stick to the zoning code. It’s there for a reason.”
Time and time again, the Coral Gables City Commission has voted for exceptions to the city’s code. Sometimes these exceptions are benign, like granting Armando Codina 14 extra feet in height –mostly for a distinguished looking cupola on top – for his new Regency Parc building, in exchange for providing a public park next door. Other times the exceptions are egregious, resulting in monstrously large
structures like the LifeTime building on US-1, or height variances granted under the Mediterranean Ordinance, even if the buildings are not remotely Mediterranean in appearance.
This has become the No. 1 issue for voters, who were not happy with the two candidates endorsed by the commission and every former city mayor, largely because both had war chests supplied by developers. In a National Community Survey conducted by POLCO, a national polling company that collected data from 369 Gables households 18 months ago, respondents said that the single most important issue facing the city was the “overall layout of residential and commercial areas.” Only 56 percent thought the overall quality of new development was good, and less than half (47 percent) felt that commercial growth in the city was well-planned.
So, even if the two candidates endorsed by city commissioners declared themselves to be against over-development (as they did), the optics that both were funded by developers spelled doom against two candidates who accepted no money from developers. Sometimes, to mix metaphors, you must read the tea leaves to know which way the wind is blowing.
JP FABER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF CORAL GABLES MAGAZINE
CEO & PUBLISHER
EVP / PUBLISHER
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Monica Del Carpio-Raucci
CIRCULATION & DISTRIBUTION
Adam Brand / Frames USA
Coral Gables Magazine is published monthly by City Regional Media, 1200 Anastasia Ave. Suite 115, Coral Gables FL 33134. Telephone: (305) 995-0995. Copyright 2023 by City Regional Media. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part of any text, photograph or illustration without prior written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. Send address changes to firstname.lastname@example.org. General mailbox email and letters to editor@ coralgablesmagazine.com.
On the cover: Alirio Torrealba, CEO of MG Developer, looking over his latest project, the Village at Coral Gables. Photo by Rodolfo Benitez.
CORAL GABLES MAGAZINE MAY 2023 Alirio Torrealba, CEO of MG Developer, looking over The Village at Coral Gables THE VILLAGES OF CORAL GABLES ART IN PUBLIC PLACES PLUS THE NEW CITY COMMISSIONERS THE ART OF AGING WELL RESTAURANT OPENINGS 10 coralgablesmagazine.com EDITOR’S NOTE
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Each month, we print letters we receive from our readers. We encourage all commentary, including criticism as well as compliments, and any thoughts about our community. If you are interested, please send your thoughts to email@example.com. Letters are edited for brevity.
Just Say No to a Bad Project
In 2005 I started investing in development in the City of Coral Gables because I was excited about its potential. My partners and I envisioned the city’s bright future and we wanted to leave a legacy. Consequently, we developed the classic “Town House Zoning” in the Biltmore Subdivision. All we wanted to do was to build upon our founding father George Merrick’s extraordinary vision.… For years, this city has enjoyed the benefit of having inherited the best urban planning foundation in Miami-Dade County. However, in recent years, the city has been moving backwards from its original vision. The initial advantage in planning, which made us unique, is disappearing. The city has lost “the big picture,” and its leaders lead blindly. Developers follow their lead, and residents are being forced to fight unreason-
able projects on a block-by-block basis to protect their quality of life.
As an investor, I have fought several projects in the past to protect my investments. My most recent battle and the worst project I have yet to combat is being proposed right on the street where I live, at 110 Phoenetia Avenue, where the Garden of Our Lord is situated. The developer for this project is not reasonable, thoughtful, or respectful of the city, its land, or the character of the neighborhood. Among some of the reasons why this project should not be built as proposed are:
The developer is asking for a radical change of zoning from institutional religion to commercial MX2 (mixture of residential and commercial) which is not appropriate for the street. The project does not integrate the Garden of Our Lord in the plan. There is no infrastructure for the capacity and density
proposed. The project does not include livable and functional green spaces. The design resembles a Russian bunker due to its large out-of-scale volume and poor site plan. It is not compatible with the adjacent street buildings, including the Historic Women’s Club
The proposed project at 110 Phoenetia Avenue is another example of how developers are entitled to ask for unreasonable changes of zoning that dismiss the intrinsic value of our land and our quality of life. Our elected officials must take a strong stand against irresponsible development.
Maria Cristina Longo
I enjoy the magazine. I am sharing an observation that may be of interest to you. I observed that the April issue contains a homogenous skin color. There may be an
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opportunity for the magazine to benefit from dimensions that diversity adds. These omissions are often not deliberate or conscious.
Dr. Anesa Ahamad, MD
A Cuban Tradition, But So What
I realize it is tradition, but we live in a time where many are incredibly sensitive to the cruelty animals face. The fact that your magazine would depict a roasted whole pig with its legs spread apart and proudly displaying the hanging skin is horrific. [“Whole Hog Rooftop,” Feb. 2023 issue]. How can an empathetic, compassionate soul support this proudly? One should consider that maybe most of your audience would be disturbed by such images, tradition or not. There are many traditions which are violent and would not be acceptable in our society today. We need to move forward in a humane way and violence against anything living is violence. Please consider the obvious changes in mindset so very apparent these days. We want a peaceful world....
EVs Won’t Save the Globe
In reference to the cover feature, “Sustainability and the City,” the opening paragraph under the “Reduce” section states, “one of the city’s crowning sustainability achievements is its use of electric transportation.” This is nice to know, and the City means well, but let’s not “crown” EVs just yet. Studies show that electric vehicles may reduce “energy consumption,” but at a high cost to the environment. According to experts, an electric car creates 10 to 20 tons of carbon before one drives the first mile.
The issue is not to question the energy-saving effect of electric cars. The issue is to understand the before-effect of mining for lithium, an indispensable ingredient in electric car batteries. This is the elephant in the room. Research shows that mining for lithium is far from environmentally friendly. A report by Friends of the Earth states that lithium extraction inevitably harms the soil and causes air contamination. As demand rises, the mining impacts are “increasingly affecting communities where this harmful extraction takes place, jeopardizing their access to water” and contaminating nearby rivers. Lithium extraction hurts natural resources and ancestral
territories all over the world.
A new poll shows that 75 percent of U.S. adults cite saving money on gas as the main benefit of an EV, not environmental sustainability. Accordingly, EVs are more about economics and less about the environment. In my opinion, it is important to pay attention to all the issues that adversely affect the planet. In the case of EVs, before one car hits the road, it has already created tons of carbon and depleted significant natural resources. EVs may save us on gas, but at what cost to the globe?
Dr. Karelia Martinez Carbonell
Street Sign Blues
Oh Coral Gables bright and fair
Of streets lined with trees to spare Where NO PARKING signs stand bold But most it seems are over-sold They mark the swale with strict command But it’s often hard to understand What useful purpose do they serve Is it really to help or to unnerve?
So let us hope that those who place The signs will do so with most grace
Not clog-up roads with needless rules
From mindless bureaucratic fools
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from, and not
Streetwise Talk of the Town Page
IN HONOR OF AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH, A RAISING OF THE AUTISM ACCEPTANCE FLAG
WAS HELD AT
From City Hall
A Maverick and an Outsider
A PERFECT STORM LEADS TO AN ELECTION UPSET
BY J.P. FABER
The turnout was low, the weather was bad, and the mayor was not on the ballot at the crucial moment. These were some of the reasons that two under-funded, populist candidates won in what amounts to an unprecedented rebuke of the establishment by highly motivated voters.
This past April 11, and then in a subsequent runoff on April 25, Ariel Fernandez and Melissa Castro were elected to four-year terms as city commissioners, despite their opponents Alex Bucelo and Ivette Arango O’Doski receiving vastly more campaign funding and the endorsements of virtually every mayor past and present, and all of the existing city commissioners.
First Fernandez won, drubbing Bucelo with 58 percent of the vote (to Bucelo’s 42 percent) in the April 11 election. In that round, Arango O’Doski won 47.25 percent of the vote, compared to 39.44 percent for Castro. However, since 50 percent or more of the votes is required to win, the two went to a runoff, in which Castro easily beat Arango O’Doski with a 59 to 41 percent margin. Mayor Vince Lago, who was also running for re-election, went unopposed after candidate Jackson Rip Holmes switched from running for mayor to running for the same seat as Arango O’Doski and Castro. Because he was running unopposed, Lago was declared the winner before the election took place.
So, if Bucelo and Arango O’Doski were better funded and more heavily endorsed, why did they lose? The answer, says Sue Kawalerski of the Coral Gables Neighbors Association (which forcefully backed both winning candidates), is the perception that our city commission is not listening to the voices of residents. “I think the depth of distrust in our current administration is remarkable,” says Kawalerski. “I think [this vote] addresses the resident’s concerns that they are not represented at City Hall.” While it was not the only issue, she says, the commission’s willingness to permit development beyond the current zoning code was at the top of the list.
“The Coral Gables Neighbors Association has been mischaracterized by the current administration as being anti-development,” says Kawalerski. “That is far from the truth. This association is for the right kind of development, which means it has to be according to the zoning code. We are not in favor of [breaking] what has already been compromised in favor of the developers. You either have a zoning code or you don’t.”
Coral Gables United, the political action arm of the Association, came up with the idea of framing the election as anti-establishment,
sending out emails showing a raised fist that came right out of anti-establishment movements of the past, like the Vietnam War protests. And that message resonated with voters.
Even so, the unlikely upsets by both Fernandez and Castro depended on other unique aspects of the election.
Paramount was the absence of the mayor on the ballot. One of the reasons why the mayor runs for election every two years in Coral Gables, while commissioners run only every four years (two at each election), is that many more voters turn out if the mayor is on the ballot. When Vince Lago won unopposed, the voter turnout dropped precipitously. The 6,903 ballots cast April 11 represented only a 21 percent turnout, the lowest in a decade. By comparison, when Lago was on the ballot in 2021, there was a 29 percent turnout.
This was a huge benefit to Fernandez, whose dedicated, core followers braved stormy weather to make sure their votes counted. As with any election, even small numbers of voters can make a huge difference if most of the voters don’t show up. Had more voters gone to the polls, the outcome could have been quite different – especially had they showed up to vote for Lago. Despite voter unease with the perceived pro-development direction the Commission as a whole has seemingly taken on, Lago remains a highly popular mayor. According to a public opinion poll taken in January by McLaughlin & Associates of 300 random Coral Gables residents who said they were likely to vote in the April 11 elections, Lago’s approval rating was an astounding 69 percent. Had those voters gone to the polls, Lago’s coattails might have carried both Bucelo and Arango O’Doski to victory.
Even more surprising than the election of Fernandez, whose blog Gables Insider has built him a small but dedicated core of supporters, was the election of Castro. Unlike Fernandez, who has a history of involvement in city politics [including running campaigns], Castro was a complete outsider. She had never voted before in a city election, and she had not even heard of Gables Insider or the Coral Gables Neighbors Association before she decided to run for office.
The key to her victory was the runoff, which occurred only because Arango O’Doski fell slightly short of the 50 percent required for a firstround win. The spoiler here may have been Jackson Rip Holmes, whose switch from the mayoral race to the commission race led to the early Lago victory that took him off the ballot. And had Holmes’ 6.65 percent of the commission vote been evenly split between Arango O’Doski and Castro, the former would have won. Meanwhile, in the runoff, Castro enjoyed the backing of both Fernandez and the CGNA with their dedicated followers, while Arango O’Doski lost more than 800 voters who supported her in round one but failed to show up for round two.
The lesson here? As the great anthropologist Margatet Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it›s the only thing that ever has.” ■
STREETWISE / POLITICS
Photo by Tiege Dolly
MAYOR VINCE LAGO, WHO RAN UNOPPOSED, BEING SWORN IN APRIL 27
Q&A with New City Commissioner
Why did you decide to run for city commissioner?
I’ve always had a love for humanity and for my community. As I like to say, in my past life, that’s what I did. I worked in group homes, I went into schools, I was all about the children, and I sacrificed a lot of my personal life for my community. I came into permitting [as CEO of M.E.D. Permitting] and that was a completely different field.
Why did you become a permit expediter?
My mom would always tell me come [to work for the family business] and I would be like, ‘Are you kidding? Never.’ And then my mom passed away. And so here I was, doing this. But what’s in my heart didn’t go away. I’m a community person, a people person. What really fills me with joy is to help others.
When did you decide to run for commissioner?
Fairly recently. This was never a dream of mine. In fact, if you would have told me this a year ago, I would have said, ‘No way.’ I’ve never been into politics. [But] the idea came to me of being in a position where I had a little more leeway to help. I was involved with the Community Foundation, the Woman’s Club, the Chamber of Commerce, with a lot of volunteer hours and sponsoring events, all in Coral Gables. Really, I felt like this was the next step.
Why do you think you won the election?
Because I was able to connect with the residents. I do a lot of handshaking and one-on-one stuff, like kissing and hugging. I want you [as citizens] to connect with me, I want you to tell me what’s wrong, I want you to feel like I am part of your family, [and] that you can count on me.
What are your ambitions as a City Commission?
The first thing is to be a voice for the residents. I want to be that person who is in their favor. And when something’s wrong, they can come to me, and I can actually represent them. That’s number one for me. Besides that, I have little pet projects, like [improving] the building department, which I have a lot of experience with.
Q&A with New City Commissioner Ariel Fernandez
Why did you decide to run for city commissioner?
There have been a lot of issues that have been discussed from a community standpoint over the last few years, and we’ve noticed they’ve kind of just fallen on deaf ears when it comes to the commission and when it comes to city staff. I had been feeling the same concerns, and [the] opportunity presented itself when Vice Mayor [Michael] Mena decided not to seek reelection. I thought it was a good opportunity to raise some of [those] concerns.
What are some of your short-term goals?
We need to start by discussing the city manager [Peter Iglesias] and whether he’s the right person to continue to lead our city. I think we need to do a full forensic audit of our city’s finances to ensure that our money’s being spent the right way. I’m concerned with the fact that Coral Gables was one of the few municipalities that did not offer a reduction of the millage rate this year when we did have increased revenue.
What about long-term goals?
Long-term, we need to find a way to enforce our zoning code. Developers have been coming in with projects, and they’re purchasing massive amounts of properties to try to build something bigger. And residents have been clear – they want us to be responsible for what’s going to happen in the city. We don’t have the necessary infrastructure to support a lot of the major projects that developers would like to build. And we need to make sure we enforce the zoning code. If a developer is allowed to build 45-feet, that’s what they’re allowed to build. Don’t come to us with a proposal that’s a lot bigger, or even two-feet bigger.
You’ve been vocal in your criticisms regarding certain city officials. How do you anticipate handling that now?
The commission does not have the power to hire or fire, except for the city manager, city clerk, and city attorney. I have been vocal about my distrust in the ability of the [city] manager… [so] one of my priorities is having a discussion with my colleagues about his role and his future with our city. As far as staff, if we bring in a new manager, that person may want to change some of those people.
STREETWISE / POLITICS
Photos by Tiege Dolly
Real Estate Advisor 305.785.4491 email@example.com Not intended to solicit currently listed property. © Compass Florida, LLC. Equal Housing Opportunity. All information furnished regarding property for sale or rent or regarding financing is from sources deemed reliable, but Compass makes no warranty or representation as to the accuracy thereof. All property information is presented subject to errors, omissions, price changes, changed property conditions, and withdrawal of the property from the market, without notice. Navigating You Home 1001 San Pedro Ave Gables by the Sea 100’ Direct Ocean Access 2021 Complete Renovation $9,900,000 | 8 BD | 8 BA | 6,357 ASF 1125 San Pedro Ave Gables by the Sea 100’ Direct Ocean Access 2008 Complete Renovation $6,390,000 | 5 BD | 4.5 BA | 4,569 ASF 1036 Lugo Ave Gables by the Sea | Short Term Rental 100’ Direct Ocean Access Fully Furnished $29,000/M | 6 BD | 6.5 BA | 3,564 ASF Nancy Sanabria UNDER CONTRACT UNDER CONTRACT 1627 Brickell Ave, #2301 Best Water and Skyline Views in Miami at The Imperial $1,060,000 | 3 BD | 2.5 BA | 1,792 SF UNDER CONTRACT UNDER CONTRACT
Talk of the Town
Flying the Flag
April was Autism Awareness Month, and the Coral Gables community made the most of it. Events included the launch of the “hueman exhibit” at the Coral Gables Museum, a Coral Gables Chamber breakfast on autism, an autism awareness caravan of some 40 vehicles, the announcement of new classrooms serving students with autism, and the raising of an Autism Acceptance flag at City Hall.
“It has been an amazing month,” said Maria Palacio, the founder and president of the Crystal Academy Coral Gables, the city’s premier therapy center and school for children with autism. “Before, when people started talking about autism awareness, it was a walk here and there. Now, it’s a caravan, a flag in the city, public places [such as parks] that are autism-friendly…. We are now moving from awareness to inclusion.”
Palacio, a long-time advocate for incorporating neuro-diverse individuals into the workforce and allowing them to lead independent lives, says the need is greater than ever. Whereas in 2004, one in every 150 Americans was diagnosed with autism, that number has now reached one in 36. Programs to help these individuals join the workforce now include the Miami-Dade public school system’s Project Victory, which places students with autism as interns in area businesses; the Gables’ city government already has a program for such interns.
Palacio’s latest challenge is to find a new home for the Crystal Academy, which currently resides in space provided by the St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church. The church land has been purchased by developers and will be demolished if the City Commission rezones the property (see following story).
Bonnie’s Battle Moves to Court
Bonnie Bolton says she is not done yet in her fight to save The Garden of Our Lord from being uprooted and replaced by a nine-story condominium project. In a 26-page petition filed April 13 with the Appellate Division of Miami-Dade Circuit Court by attorney David Winker, Bolton says the city violated due process in March when the City Commission unanimously affirmed the Historic Preservation Department’s decision not to declare the garden historic. The petition asks the court to quash the commission’s decision.
In seeking a judicial review, the petition asks the court to block any efforts by the developer to demolish the garden at 110 Phoenetia Avenue or the adjacent St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church. “The garden is a memorial to American war heroes,” said Bolton. “They didn’t give up when things got tough. So, I can’t give up.”
Bolton, a language teacher who lives down the street from the garden, said she decided to follow the example of her mother, pioneer feminist Roxcy Bolton, into community activism after developer Sergio Pino’s Century Homebuilders Group bought the 1.5-acre property from St. James for $9.75 million in 2021. According to plans submitted to the city, Pino’s project would include 177 condos, 16 ground floor live-work units, a “rooftop amenities deck,” and more than 300 parking spaces. The project also includes constructing a new home for Crystal Academy, a private school for children with autism that now uses the church offices for classrooms and the open space adjacent to the garden. Pino’s condo project would require a zoning change from religious/institutional to mixed use. (cont.)
20 coralgablesmagazine.com STREETWISE / TALK OF THE TOWN
In July 2022, Bolton filed a 130-page application seeking historic designation, arguing that the garden, opened in 1951, was a burial ground, a botanical treasure of plants mentioned in the Bible, a repository of plaques commemorating military and civic heroes, and a key component of the “green corridor” that runs from East Ponce de Leon Boulevard to the Douglas Entrance. But the nine-member Preservation Board and the city commission said no.
In an email, City Attorney Cristina Suarez said “the decision not to designate the property historic was supported by competent, substantial evidence. Should the court order the city to file a response, the city will respond to the petition accordingly.” Pino and Century Homebuilders did not respond to an email request for comment. – Mike Clary
pez, the Sanctuary has produced more than 40 concerts and events that have collectively been attended by more than 25,000 people. “Can you believe that?” asks Maldonado-Lopez. “[Everything] is fully operating now and surpassing all our expectations and goals with regards to programming and outreach.”
Among the performances that have been staged are ones by the Miami City Ballet, Dance NOW, the New Canon Chamber Collective, Cuban Classical Ballet, St. Carlos Institute, Peter London Global Dance, and Joshua Bell. “So many more have graced us with their talents on stage,” says the managing director, including most recently a performance by the chamber ensemble of London’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; this month, the auditorium will hold several of the Mainly Mozart concerts of the Miami Chamber Music Society (see Best Bets on page 28).
It has been one year now since Coral Gables attorney and preservationist Mike Eidson launched his ambitious Sanctuary of the Arts project, transforming the historic 1942 Church of Christ Scientist building across from City Hall (on Andalusia Avenue) into a 314seat performing arts auditorium, complete with an expanded stage. Since then, says Principal Managing Director Rafi Maldonado-Lo-
The Foundation Resurgent
Coming off its latest success to attract more visitors to the city (they were behind the Umbrella Sky installation on Giralda Plaza), the Coral Gables Community Foundation is bent on expanding its reach. The foundation, which raises money for scholarships each year through signature events like the Tour of Kitchens and its annual Foundation Gala, also manages charitable funds for scores of local philanthropists. This past March, it drew more than 28,000 people to its “Moon Over Coral Gables” installation on Ponce Circle, a giant replica of the moon funded by sponsors that included Bacardi, FPL, and Location Ventures, among others. Lead sponsor of the three-weekend event was Mosaicist, Ray Corral’s company which creates complex mosaics for homeowner’s pools.
Corral, a local philanthropist, businessman, and artist in his own right, has also donated $100,000 to the Foundation to create the Corral & Cathers Artist Fund to grant awards of $5,000 each to local professional artists. (The Cathers part of the title refers to the city’s Art & Culture Specialist Catherine Cathers – see story on page 54).
“The Foundation is doing great right now,” says president and CEO May Snow. “We are at a crucial, exciting time in our history where we are taking this organization to a new level as the philanthropic cornerstone of the community.” Snow says the Foundation will continue to focus on its donor-advised fund, which makes it easier and more affordable for local givers. They are also expanding their annual scholarship program to $500,000 this year from $400,000 last year, having received a record 500 applications (versus 151 last year).
“Our fundraising has increased, our annual budget has increased, and we’ve moved into new offices,” says Snow. “We just finished our strategic plan to grow our organization to a $50 million fund.” The Foundation currently has $10 million in assets.
22 coralgablesmagazine.com STREETWISE STREETWISE / TALK OF THE TOWN
BONNIE BOLTON AT THE CHURCH
MIKE EIDSON AND RAFI MALDONADO-LOPEZ
FOUNDATION CHAIR VINNEY TORRE , MARY SNOW, ALINA MELEDENA, RAY CORRAL
Streamlining the System
One of the perennial complaints from Coral Gables citizens has been the painfully slow process of obtaining building permits. The good news? The city has now completed its overhaul of the system, moving from paper to digital, and from sequential reviews by different departments to simultaneous reviews, with the entire process now transparently online. The result is a vastly quicker process. By comparison, in January of this year, 25,183 permits were reviewed, compared to 9,035 reviewed in January of 2022.
Another upgrade is that the entire Development Services Department, which oversees the Building, Planning & Zoning, Board of Architects, and Code Enforcement divisions, has relocated from their cramped quarters on the third floor of City Hall to their own adjacent building at 427 Biltmore Way. Here, citizens can apply for permits or request help, with an average wait time of three minutes.
“On the third floor of the old building, there was always a crowd,” says Suramy Cabrera, Director for Development Services. “I had to go out as director and help with people who were waiting.” Now, she says, “We have the best turnaround of any city [in the county].”
Because the old system relied on paper plans that had to work their way through the system, permitting could take weeks. or even months. Now, “I can set the date for all the reviews [simultaneously], and people should be able to turn it around in two or three days,” says Cabrera. About the only thing that creates delays at this point, she says, is when approval is required from the county’s environmental department, over which the city has no control. Those who are applying for permits can check on the progress of their applications online to address any delays.
The acceleration also includes speeding up inspections that are required for final approval of building projects. “We can look at all the inspections that everyone is doing – mechanical, electrical, plumbing, etc. – and see what is going on,” says Cabrera. “We started [the new system] with more than 2,000 overdue inspections because we had no way to track code enforcement. We are now down to 20.”
UVA Gallery Opens
It’s always cause for celebration when Coral Gables gets a new gallery, and one owned by two South Florida-based women is even better. Sisters and Miami natives Diana and Carolina Sarmiento recently relocated their gallery, named after the Spanish word for “grape,” to 305 Alcazar Ave., where it “aims to serve as the cultural liaison between generations and a world audience to unify humanities near and far.” Most of the artists represented by UVA are Latin, including Alberto Jorge Carol, whose work is pictured above. Their next exhibition, “Go Where Your Feet Will Take You On The Unknown Road,” premieres on May 5 from 6 to 10 pm and features artwork curated by Abel Remon of the Paragon Gallery in Wynwood. – Kylie Wang ■
24 coralgablesmagazine.com STREETWISE / TALK OF THE TOWN
SURAMY CABRERA (CENTER) AND HER TEAM
WORK BY UVA ARTIST ALBERTO J. CAROL
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LOCAL BREWERIES FIGHT TO FREE THEMSELVES FROM STATE RESTRICTIONS
BY KYLIE WANG
On December 5, 1933, the 18th Amendment was officially repealed and Prohibition ended, much to the joy of most Americans. The new legislation allowed individual states to create their own laws regarding the reintroduction of alcohol to the country. In Florida, that meant a “Three Tier System” to prevent monopolies. It said, in essence: you can brew beer, you can sell beer, and you can distribute beer… but you can’t do all three.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the unintended consequences have hurt independent craft breweries, of which there are now 374 in Florida, including our hometown breweries Titanic and Bay 13. Those independents were not around back when the law was created to dampen any monopolistic tendencies by 1930s-era mainstays like Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Coors.
Currently, independent breweries in Florida that wish to distribute their wares, even if it’s to a restaurant or bar across the street, must use a distributor to do so. These contracts are also deemed permanent, meaning that virtually nothing can be done for the brewer to get out of them – even if the distribution company is sold or can no longer work locally. If a bar down the block ran out of Bay 13’s “Merv” pilsner, for instance, the brewery couldn’t just pack up a keg and bring it over. The distributor must come get it, process it at their facility (wherever that may be), and then bring it to the bar. This can take days, if not weeks, and isn’t cheap either.
Bay 13 Brewery’s head brewer, Greg Berbusse, is from Arkansas, where laws have been updated to allow brewers to distribute up to 60,000 barrels of their own beer. Thirty-eight other states have made their own changes, but Florida is not one of them. “That’s proof that it can be done in the state of Florida and the economy won’t collapse,” Berbusse says. “As far as everything else, we’re just asking for stuff to be cleaned up and to be able to negotiate with our distributors.”
Bay 13 is a member of the Florida Brewers Guild, which is advocating for four main changes:
1) self-distribution, allowing local breweries to distribute their own beer; 2) franchise law reform, which will eliminate “contracts for life” with distributors; 3) brand registration reform, which will make it unnecessary for every single variation of a beer recipe to be registered in the state – a costly expense; and 4) equitable licensing fees, so that “money will be collected from [smaller breweries] on a level commensurate with what we’re actually producing,” says Berbusse.
The proposed updates would allow breweries to save considerable costs, meaning that consumer prices could go down. “It’s going to keep more money that you spend at your favorite brewery there,” says Berbusse. “It could help lower the cost [of beer]. And it’s money [we] can use to hire somebody else, make improvements, and open the door for more economic development in our local community, as opposed to that money going out of state.” So, if you want cheaper beer, visit the QR code and write to your representative to support Bay 13, Titanic, and other small, independent Florida breweries. ■
GREG BERBUSSE, BAY 13 BREWERY’S HEAD BREWER, IS IS FROM ARKANSAS, WHERE LAWS HAVE BEEN UPDATED TO ALLOW BREWERS TO DISTRIBUTE THEIR OWN BEERS.
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“ THAT’S PROOF THAT IT CAN BE DONE IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA AND THE ECONOMY WON’T COLLAPSE...”
Photo by Tiege Dolly
Living Best Bets for May Page 30
MOTHER’S DAY IN THE GARDEN: PAMPER THE SPECIAL MOMS IN YOUR LIFE THIS MONTH AT FAIRCHILD TROPICAL BOTANIC GARDEN’S MOTHER’S DAY EVENT.
Best Bets for May
The event, benefitting Beaux Arts Miami, will be held on Miracle Mile on May 10 from 5 to 8 pm. Participants will be able to taste wines from around the world while shopping at their favorite Downtown Coral Gables boutiques. Tickets are $45. Check-in will be at McBride Plaza. 150 Miracle Mile. coralgables.com/events/spring-sip-shop
FROST LIVE PRESENTS MARIA JOÃO PIRES
In a rare Miami appearance, Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires will be performing at the University of Miami’s Gusman Concert Hall on May 13 at 7:30 pm. Hailed by The New York Times as “an elegant technician and probing interpreter,” Pires is known for her recordings of music by Mozart, Chopin, and Schubert. Tickets to the performance are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $15 for students and children. 1314 Miller Dr. frost-music-live.miami.edu
MOTHER’S DAY IN THE GARDEN
Pamper the special moms in your life this month at Fairchild
Tropical Botanic Garden’s Mother’s Day event. Roam the garden on May 14 from 10 am to 5 pm, and enjoy an outing filled with picnics, plants, mimosas, and more! Members have free entry, with nonmember adults paying $24.95, seniors $17.95, students $15.95, and children $11.95 (kids six and younger are free). For an additional $24, treat mom to a refreshing specialty mimosa tasting. 10901 Old Cutler Road. fairchildgarden.org
“BUT I WANT TO FLY!” BOOK LAUNCH
Raised in Miami, entrepreneur-turned-author Michelle Villalobos is returning to Coral Gables to celebrate the publication of her new illustrated book for adults, “But I Want to Fly!” On Thursday, May 18 at 6:30 pm, Books & Books will host the author for the launch, which is free to attend, complete with a reading and display of the book’s original artwork. Villalobos wrote “But I Want to Fly!” after realizing the corporate rat race wasn’t for her. She now works with others to help them “honor their dreams” through programs and workshops, including the one for which the book is named. 265 Aragon Ave.
SPRING SIP & SHOP
Celebrate the spring season and find some Mother’s Day gifts by joining the City of Coral Gables for an evening of sipping and shopping.
MAINLY MOZART AT THE SANCTUARY
May marks the return of the Mainly Mozart Festival of the Miami Chamber Music Society, now in its 30th year. Two of the concerts to put on your list take place at the Sanctuary of the Arts, across the street from City Hall. On Saturday, May 13 at 4 pm and on Sunday May 14 at 2 pm, violinist Liana Gourdjia will lead the ensemble in Mozart’s “A Little Night Music” and Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings.” On Saturday, May 27 at 4 pm, the Amernet String Quartet, with Marina Radiushina on piano, will perform string and piano quartets by Mozart and Dvorak. Tickets are $10 to $30. 410 Andalusia Ave. sanctuaryofthearts.org
“PROOF” BY ACTORS’ PLAYHOUSE AT MIRACLE THEATRE
David Auburn’s “Proof,” a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, will receive its first professional production in Miami in over 20 years. Stop by Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre between May 17 and June 4 to experience an elegant and engaging story of passion, genius, and family bonds. The story combines elements of mystery and surprise with old-fashioned storytelling. Performances
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will be held Wednesday to Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets range from $40 to $75. 280 Miracle Mile. actorsplayhouse.org
GABLES BIKE TOUR: MONTGOMERY BOTANICAL CENTER
Enjoy the beautiful spring season with a bike tour at The Montgomery Botanical Center on May 21, presented by Bike Walk Coral Gables, the Coral Gables Museum, and the Dade Heritage Trust. Explore the lush garden of international palms and cycads while chatting with other local residents. The group will meet at the Botanical Center at 10 am. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for museum members and children under 12. 11901 Old Cutler Road. coralgablesmuseum.org
FINAL SING: FLORIDA GRAND OPERA
Enjoy an evening of arias and scenes from the world’s most beloved operas performed by the Florida Grand Opera (FGO) Studio Artists at the Miracle Theatre on May 14 at 5 pm. This is the last opportunity to hear the 2022-23 Studio, which spent the full season performing principal and comprimario roles alongside FGO’s roster of acclaimed directors, conductors, and musicians. They will showcase their artistry and work from throughout the season. Tickets are $10 general admission and free to Florida Grand Opera donors and subscribers. 280 Miracle Mile. fgo.org.
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When individuals choose the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation Donor Advised Fund, they agree to make a gift of cash or other non-cash assets to Nicklaus Children’s, with a portion of the gift allocated to a sub-fund that can be granted to other IRS approved charitable causes they care about.
BEST REASON TO LEAVE THE GABLES: BROADWAY IN MIAMI
Don’t miss your chance to catch the last musical of this season’s Broadway in Miami touring series, presented by the Adrienne Arsht Center. “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations” is the electrifying Broadway musical that follows The Temptations’ extraordinary journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The musical will be held at the Ziff Ballet Opera House from May 9 to May 14, with performances Tuesday to Saturday at 8 pm, an additional performance on Saturday at 2 pm, and two performances on Sunday at 1 and 7 pm. Tickets range from $35 to $130. 1300 Biscayne Blvd. arshtcenter.org ■
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Zen and the Art of Pottery
A NEW EXHIBIT AT THE LOWE EXPLORES CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE CERAMIC ART
BY DOUGLAS MARKOWITZ
Out of all the Japanese pottery by master Kondo Takahiro, it’s the ones that came after the largest earthquake in his country’s history that feel particularly resonant. 3/11, as the disaster became known, marked the largest loss of life in Japan since World War II, with nearly 20,000 dead. The chain reaction caused by the tremor on March 11, 2011, included a massive tsunami and a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
Takahiro reckoned with the disaster through his own artistry, beginning his “Reduction” series that same year. He created 20 sculptures of his own likeness, seated in Zen meditation. One of these statues forms the centerpiece of the Lowe Art Museum’s latest exhibition, “Transcendent Clay – Kondo: A Century of Japanese Ceramic Art.” One-fifth the size of the artist, the statue is made of porcelain with a marbled exterior and covered in fine silver beads, with an unusual gold embellishment: kintsugi, a traditional technique that uses gold-dusted lacquer to repair broken pottery.
Guest curator Joe Earle says the kintsugi “gives marvelous emphasis to the whole point of the work, this notion of fragility, breakability – it reminds us to be mindful of our place in the universe.” It also forms a powerful metaphor of Japan’s recovery from 3/11. Takahiro’s likeness is covered with brown and black streaks, as if recently buried in the earth, yet its pose remains solemn and strong, the damage repaired.
If there is any focus on history in the show, it’s that of the Kondo family itself, which over three generations developed, refined, and revolutionized Japanese porcelain art. Four members of the family are represented in the show: Takahiro (born 1958), his father Hiroshi (1936-2012), uncle Yutaka (1932-1983), and grandfather Yuzo (1902-1985), named a Living National Treasure by the Japanese government in 1977. Descended from a samurai family, it was Yuzo’s decision to train in ceramic arts that set the family down its fateful path. Yuzo became a master of sometsuke, a blue-and-white porcelain style brought from Asia by Korean artisans in the 17th century.
In the 1950s, Yuzo began to add multi-color pigments. Some of the most distinctive works in the show are marvelous porcelain vessels from the ‘70s and ‘80s. His sons both became ceramicists, but while Hiroshi continued the blue-and-white style of his father, his elder son Yutaka broke with tradition. He became particularly fascinated by buncheong, a stamped stoneware style from Korea. The works from him in the exhibition show its influence, and they appear both ancient and modern, with dark colors and patterned markings that evoke some lost, alien civilization.
Then came Takahiro. Yuzo’s grandson had never intended to join the family business; his original career path was table tennis. Yutaka’s early death in 1983 changed things, however, and Takahiro adopted his uncle’s craft. First, he experimented with metal glaze, resulting in an iconic, patented technique called “ginteki” (“Silver Mist”), where tiny beads of metal form on the exterior of the porcelain. These pieces feel especially appropriate for glitzy Miami.
Throughout his career, Takahiro experimented with dozens of new techniques and forms, pushing ceramic art beyond the confines
LOWE ART MUSEUM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI, 1301 STANFORD DR. 10 AM-4 PM, WED.- SAT. FREE. CALL 305-284-3535 OR VISIT LOWE.MIAMI.EDU
of the vessel, creating abstract forms that broke with the Kondo tradition of representation.
Eventually, he began to create self-portraits, incorporating his entire arsenal of techniques in a series of slip-casted statues of his own head titled “Reflection.” But 3/11 caused Takahiro to shift his priorities. He began volunteering in Tohoku, his wife’s home region, to aid its recovery. He worked actively there, creating raw, ash-glazed stoneware from local materials. His “Reduction,” on display, epitomizes that period. ■
Douglas Markowitz writes for ArtburstMiami.com, a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music, and performing arts news.
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“TRANSCENDENT CLAY – KONDO: A CENTURY OF JAPANESE CERAMIC ART” IS ON DISPLAY THROUGH SEPT. 24
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LOOKING FOR A SLICE OF AUTHENTIC SPANISH DANCING? THE GABLES IS THE PLACE
BY KYLIE WANG
The history of flamenco is a long and complicated one, with much of it lost to the ages. Born of the ostracized Romani people in the south of Spain, the art form was long denigrated by the Spanish elite, who viewed the dancing, singing, and music-making as unduly vulgar. Today, flamenco has been recognized by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and is performed worldwide. The fluctuating fortunes of the art are now seen as symbolic of Spain’s historically complicated national identity.
In Coral Gables, however, flamenco is much simpler: it’s an entertaining way to enjoy a night out over a glass of wine and a good meal. At La Taberna Giralda, the performances are intimate, held inside on a small stage, with audiences encouraged to participate. At Bellmont Spanish Restaurant on Miracle Mile, performances are held outside, drawing a large crowd. Each comes with its own unique atmosphere, but both are wonderfully entertaining, offering up a masterclass in a relatively rare art form.
La Taberna’s flamenco night is weekly, held on Saturdays at 8:30 pm. Crammed onto a small wooden stage at the back of the restaurant, a singing guitarist and drummer complement the dancing of a bailarina de flamenco as she spins and stamps under the dark red lights. The deep-throated, rich voice of the male guitarist, combined with the occasionally sultry dancing, gives the performance a slightly intoxicating air – an exclusive experience for only the 20 or so people in the room. The atmosphere is lively, with couples often standing up to dance themselves, emboldened by the dry red wines so common in Spain and by the bailarina, who whirls around the room, clapping her castanets and encouraging the crowd to sing and dance along. To get a good view, call ahead and request a table near the stage.
At Bellmont, the “Pasion Flamenca Under the Stars” dinner show is held bi-weekly on Saturdays at 8:30 pm outside the restaurant. The stage is slightly bigger to accommodate two dancers who perform together and individually throughout the night. Slightly less interactive but more nuanced, with the opportunity to see how two flamenco dancers can collaborate, this show is also more of a shared experience, as passersby on Miracle Mile stop and stare, entranced by the rapid-fire drumming of the dancers’ heels and the lilting voice of the female singer. Almost all of the outdoor tables afford a good view here, and dancing is always encouraged.
Of the two shows, we couldn’t pick a favorite, so you’ll just have to decide for yourself. Whereas Bellmont’s show is more refined and formal, with a larger stage and the dramatic (even sexy) interaction between the male and female dancers, La Taberna’s feels more like a family outing. At both, however, you’ll have to be prepared to “Olé!” all night – and if you’re coming in a large group, it’s worth looking into both restaurants’ whole roasted pig, ordered hours in advance and able to feed a whole family. ■
TOP: BELLMONT SPANISH RESTAURANT 339 MIRACLE MILE 786.502.4684
NEXT PERFORMANCES: MAY 6 AND 20
ABOVE: LA TABERNA GIRALDA 254 GIRALDA AVE. 786.362.5677
PERFORMANCES EVERY SATURDAY
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Photos by Rodolfo Benitez
A Miami Story Whose Time Has Come
LOVE AND LOSS, FURY AND FORGIVENESS ARE AT THE HEART OF “EL HURACÁN”
BY CHRISTINE DOLEN/ARTBURST MIAMI
After a successful world premiere at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2018, “El huracán” had several other productions, but like nearly everything else in theater, its momentum was disrupted by the pandemic.
But maybe the “rough magic” referenced in “El huracán” and William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” an inspiration for former Miamian Charise Castro Smith, was working overtime to get it to a theater in the playwright’s hometown at just the right time with just the right people involved. Certainly, the result is magical and as fine a production as you’ll see in South Florida all season.
“El huracán” is a 100-minute play in two parts, with a glamorous Cuban origin story at the beginning and a linking interlude in the middle. It is written in English, but certain words, phrases, or speeches are in Spanish. Not a stretch for Miami-area audiences, but the playwright has other characters translate or restate much of that content.
In the first part, set in 1992, Hurricane Andrew is roaring toward Miami on its path of unfathomable destruction. In the second, 25 years have passed. Some characters have died, only to resurface as spirits; others have been born, or matured, or now face a frightening future.
When we first meet Valeria (Barbara Bonilla), she’s a beautiful up-and-coming magician in pre-revolutionary Cuba, with the handsome Alonso (James Puig) as her assistant (the younger versions of those characters are played by Thais Menendez and Gabriell Salgado).
The play then shifts to Miami and pre-Andrew urgency, as Valeria’s middle-aged daughter Ximena (Adriana Sevan) and granddaughter Miranda (Menendez) try to quickly pack Valeria’s most important things – the items used in her magic act, especially – to keep them safe at Ximena’s.
Three things become evident: Alonso, Valeria’s devoted husband, is nowhere to be found; Ximena and Miranda, a student at Harvard, squabble frequently over their different agendas for Miranda’s life; and Valeria is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Near the end of the first section, as Hurricane Andrew is about to pulverize so much of the world outside Ximena’s home, Castro Smith expertly propels the action from lust to tragedy. Miranda and Fernando (Salgado), a neighbor’s son who was a high school crush, have their own Cuba Libre-fueled hurricane party, one that will have life-changing consequences.
After they’ve retired to Miranda’s bedroom, Valeria awakens, grabs her hat and bag, and walks out the front door into that peculiar green light that can transform the sky during hurricanes. Hers is the ultimate vanishing act, though she and Alonso surface as spirits unseen by the living after the play jumps to 2017. Now it’s Ximena, fierce as ever, who is facing Alzheimer’s.
Castro Smith, coauthor of the Oscar-winning Disney animated movie “Encanto,” mixes realistic dialogue with evocatively poetic imagery, sometimes crossing into the terrain of magical realism. One small example, as Alonso is translating what Valeria says in Spanish: “As old age floods your mind, hidden away boxes and trunks float to the sur-
face. The things that the river of memory brings back to you sometimes feel random. But they are yours, and they’re home. Love is the only real magic. Although it is sometimes tricky, it is not a trick.”
Miami-born director Dámaso Rodríguez, who first brought “El huracán” to the attention of GableStage producing artistic director Bari Newport, has done a superb job of staging a piece with myriad challenges. They include time jumps and characters that are visible to some and invisible to others while making certain that lines spoken in Spanish are contextually clear. And the performances he has helped shape? They are exquisite and tonally cohesive.
“El huracán” is a made-for-Miami play. It will resonate here most deeply, and it’s a thoroughly engaging story being given a great production. It will be at GableStage through May 14 – and then “poof,” like Valeria, it will be gone. ■
ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit source of theater, dance, visual arts, music and performing arts news.
36 coralgablesmagazine.com LIVING / THEATER GABLESTAGE AT THE BILTMORE HOTEL 1200 ANASTASIA AVE. WED. 2 PM AND 7 PM; THURS.-SAT. 8 PM; SUN. 2 PM (ADDITIONAL MATINEE MAY 13) STREAMING VERSION AVAILABLE DURING PERFORMANCES $45-$75 (STREAMING TICKET $27) 305.445.1119 OR GABLESTAGE.ORG.
TOP: BARBARA BONILLA AND JAMES PUIG ARE MAGICIANS ABOVE: THAIS MENENDEZ, EMMA GARCIA SEEGER, AND BARBARA BONILLA
New Places. Page 40
CHALLAH BREAD PUDDING AT THE NEW MOTEK CAFE, 45 MIRACLE MILE. SEE NEW PLACES, PAGE 40
CLEAN AND CRUNCHY
You would think that a Greek salad consisting of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, black olives, sliced green peppers, and chunks of feta cheese would be something that any restaurant could offer with a reasonable assurance of quality. If you believe that, you owe it to yourself to try the Greek salad at Sea Grill, the Mediterranean restaurant in the Shops at Merrick Park. Fresh, crisp, delightful, unbeatable – who knew it could be so good? (Small $15, large $22) 4250 Salzedo Street. 305.447.3990
ROLL INTO SPRING
A far cry from the Asian appetizer that inspired The Globe Cafe’s Crispy Black & Black Spring Rolls, these rolls are more closely related to Mexico than China. With blackened chicken, black beans, and cheddar cheese, each one is soft and gooey inside, wrapped in a crunchy shell, and served with a small selection of greens and a savory dipping sauce ($16). We highly recommend having a plate on Saturday night while The Globe’s live jazz band, Entre Amigos, gives you a reason to spring to your feet and roll around the restaurant. 377 Alhambra Circle. 305.445.3555
FLAN DE COCO
What makes a flan? Mostly just egg, milk, and sugar. At Bulla, however, they add a little something extra, bringing coconut into the mix alongside a scoop of passionfruit sorbet. Topped off with fresh berries, Bulla’s version of this Latin dessert has the perfect consistency: soft and succulent, with a sweet flavor any South Floridian could identify after a single bite. Available off the regular menu ($9.50) or at brunch as your third course. 2500 Ponce de Leon. 786.810.6215
MEXICAN STREET CORN
It’s not the place you’d expect to find elote, but John Martin’s version of the classic Mexican on-the-cob treat is both a surprising and fun addition to their Irish-American fusion menu, great for sharing – as long as you don’t mind flossing later. The small cobs of “street corn” ($5) are dusted with chili powder and cheese and coated in a creamy mayo-based sauce, garnished with micro cilantro. A light snack while having drinks at the bar or a good precursor to the ever-satisfying Guinness Burger. 253 Miracle Mile. 305.209.0609
RIGHT OUT OF THE WATER
It seems like an appropriate dish to eat while sitting next to the largest pool in the State of Florida. Regardless, the seared snapper at the Biltmore Hotel’s Cascade Poolside Café would be a delight in any setting – a handsome filet of our local fish, caught fresh and enhanced by a pool of coconut curry that is tasty without being overbearing. Making it extra special is a bed of “forbidden rice,” blackened by squid ink. And nothing beats the breeze, even on a warm day. 1200 Anastasia Ave. 305.913-3189. Service 11:30 am to 7 pm. ■
38 coralgablesmagazine.com BITES
TOP TO BOTTOM: SEA GRILL: GREEK SALAD THE GLOBE CAFE: SPRING ROLLS BULLA: FLAN DE COCO JOHN MARTIN: ELOTE CASCADE: SEARED SNAPPER
START DISHING stop searching
PERRY’S STEAKHOUSE / YARD HOUSE / VILLAGIO RESTAURANT PERRY’S STEAKHOUSE / YARD HOUSE / VILLAGIO RESTAURANT
PERRY’S STEAKHOUSE / YARD HOUSE / VILLAGIO RESTAURANT
DINING AT TULLIO IS AS MUCH ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE AS IT IS ABOUT THE FOOD
BY ANDREW GAYLE
Of all the dining categories in Coral Gables, none is more competitive – not to mention plentiful – than Italian. There are more Italian fine dining establishments in the city, by far, than any other – places like Zucca, Fontana, Luca Osteria, Portosole, Caffe Abbracci, and Fiola, just to name a few. Why, then, would we want another?
The answer is Tullio, the new restaurant adjacent to Fleming’s on Andalusia, just in from Ponce de Leon. The brainchild of Lucio Zanon and his son Sebastiano – who previously launched Portosole – Tullio is a refreshing twist on Italian cuisine, with a northern sensibility, a focus on seafood, and some very inventive dishes.
More than that, Tullio is dining as theater, or at least as “experiential hospitality.” The level of service is cinematic, with Lucio presiding over everything with an effervescent presence. Many of the dishes are prepared at your table on a rolling sideboard, such as filleting a Dover sole, or tossing hot pasta in a wheel of pecorino cheese.
Lucio, always the warm and welcoming host, will be the first to tell you that Tullio is named after his father, and that the restaurant specializes in Italian seafood partly in deference to this “jeweler of seafood” in the Rialto fish market in Venice. He was, naturally, the first to greet the fishing boats coming in with their catch at dawn. And Tullio’s fish is exceptionally fresh, the branzino flown in from the coastal waters of Italy, the shrimp from the coastal waters of Argentina, and the lobster from the coastal waters of Maine.
Among the results is a lovely homemade paccheri pasta with chunks of Maine lobster and a creamy lobster sauce, richly flavorful. Other fish/pasta combinations include a classic linguine with fresh clams and a more adventuresome black tagliolini with cuttlefish,
TOP: LUCIO ZANON, FOUNDER OF TULLIO ABOVE: LUCIO, THE WELCOMING HOST, IS THERE TO ENSURE A PERFECT DINING EXPERIENCE.
ABOVE LEFT: PANNA COTTA MADE FROM WHITE CHOCOLATE WITH A PASSION FRUIT GLAZE
TOP LEFT: FRESH TAGLIOLINI WITH MASCARPONE CHEESE AND CAVIAR
TOP RIGHT: PACCHERI WITH MAINE LOBSTER
MIDDLE RIGHT: SPAGHETTI WITH PISTACHIO
PESTO SCAMPI TARTARE
MIDDLE RIGHT: SHRIMP SCAMPO, A SINGLE
LARGE PRAWN WITH CEVICHE
BOTTOM RIGHT: PAN-SEARED OCTOPUS
TULLIO $$$$ 160 ANDALUSIA AVE. 305.926.4208 TULLIOMIAMI.COM
40 coralgablesmagazine.com BITES / FINE DINING
Photos by Rodolfo Benitez
peas, and bottarga (cured fish roe).
Tullio does not stop there, however, and the intention is not just to offer classics (like a superb burrata salad and among the best frito misto we have ever tried) but to stretch the taste palate. “We are trying to do things a little differently, to make it interesting,” says Lucio. One direction is with seafood, serving a shrimp carpaccio (crudo of the day) and a shrimp scampo, a single large prawn with head and arms intact and a body of shrimp ceviche. Another stretch is their pan-seared octopus served on a bed of chickpea puree stained black with octopus ink, the salty chew of tentacles balanced by the smoky flavor of the puree.
On the pasta front, you can likewise stick with a safe comfort dish like spaghetti with pecorino cheese, pepper, and black truffle; or beef ravioli with mushroom sauce; or you can venture to taste their fresh tagliolini pasta with mascarpone cheese and Oscietra caviar. Or better yet, you can try their spaghetti with pistachio pesto and Sicilian red shrimp crudo. Both take the Italian dining experience to new places, and both take advantage of their pasta, which is made fresh daily.
Another fresh, “just made” specialty of the house is the gelato, produced in what Lucio calls the “Ferrari” of gelato machines. It is incredibly creamy, and comes straight to the table from the machine, a different flavor every day (vanilla, pistachio, or hazelnut). Their other dessert is a panna cotta made from white chocolate with a passion fruit glaze. Neither is to be missed.
The ambiance, meanwhile, could not be more pleasant. The space has an enormously high, 18-foot ceiling, with tall arched windows and hanging lamps. The music is subdued rather than being overpowering, and the lighting is muted to a warm glow. Everything about Tullio speaks understated elegance, from its service to its interior – a perfect fit for old-school Coral Gables. ■
BY KYLIE WANG
Surprisingly enough, this Israeli-inspired restaurant has taken home the prize for the best burger at Burger Bash twice in a row now, an unexpected feat explicable only by a bite of the sandwich itself. But as popular as the Arayes Burger is, it’s not why you should visit Motek, which opened in late March in the Miracle Mile spot that formerly housed Forte by Chef Adrianne. You come here for the Eastern Mediterranean food: a smorgasbord of shish kebabs, mezzes (the Middle Eastern version of tapas), shawarma, and hummus. There are spreads inspired as much by Spain as by Lower East Side Jewish immigrants, veggie burgers with tahini, and generous schnitzel platters served with pita and hummus. We estimate you could come to Motek at least 10 times and never run out of new things to try.
The space itself is gorgeous, as it has always been, with an outdoor patio featuring breezy white curtains and warm ambient lighting. The inside is similarly arranged in a Grecian style with white brick walls, comfortable booths, and a large bar situated beneath hanging vines. A great place for date night and to expand the palate beyond Coral Gables’ prodigious Italian scene.
In 2023, at least 20 restaurants are expected to open in Coral Gables, ranging from well-known local franchises like Bodega Taqueria y Tequila (opening in September on Miracle Mile) to the highly anticipated Sra. Martinez by the famous Chef Michelle Bernstein (opening later this year in the former Open Stage Club space on Galiano). What follows are four of the newest openings in the City Beautiful.
Located in the old Swensen’s building, Johnny Pappagallo replaced The One on Sunset, a casual restaurant-slash-comedy club which lasted less than a year. We sincerely hope Johnny stays longer.
The Italian restaurant comes from the ownership duo behind Calista Taverna on Giralda, and they’ve maintained much of the original Swensen’s décor, including the iconic stained glass ceiling lamps. Everything else, however, is Italian – from the menu, which is full of Italian wines and authentic cuisine made with a spin, to Chef Yardley Barroso, who’s half-Italian and half-Cuban.
Take the filetto su canoe bones, a basic beef tartare that’s amplified with grilled bone marrow instead of the usual quail’s egg – a unique version of the classic dish. Or the tortellini in salsa rosa, which is stuffed with veal, of all things. Nothing, however, beats the alcoholic ice cream for dessert. You read that right. Sourced from Quore Gelato in Wynwood, there’s tequila-infused dulce de leche, bourbon-infused vanilla, and vodka-infused pistachio, each more scrumptious than the next and each featuring just a slight kick to them – not enough to be stumbling home, but enough to taste the liquor. It’s worth a trip to Johnny Pappagallo just for the ice cream alone.
1586 S DIXIE HWY. 786.332.2417
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ABOVE: MOTEK ARAYES BURGER
LEFT: MOTEK LAMB SHAWARMA BOWL
B R E A K F A S T F O R 2 D A I L Y R O O M U P G R A D E S U P O N A V A I L A B I L I T Y W E L C O M E A M E N I T I E S P E R S O N A L I Z E D T O Y O U R L I K I N G P R E F E R R E D C H E C K - I N / O U T O N P R I O R I T Y B A S I S H O T E L C R E D I T S F O R F & B , S P A & M O R E Richie Massa Director, Luxury sales visit whatahotel.com to view our full portfolio L E T U S W R I T E Y O U R T R A V E L S T O R Y . L O R R A I N E T R A V E L | 3 7 7 A L H A M B R A C I R C L E | C O R A L G A B L E S , F L | 3 3 1 3 4 3 0 5 4 4 6 4 4 3 3 | I N F O @ L O R R A I N E T R A V E L C O M a curated collection of the world ' s finest hotels & resorts. exclusive, complimentary perks on every journey. Celebrating 75 Years in Business!
I M A G E C R E D I T : A S S O U L I N E V I L L E G G I A T U R A L o r r a i n e T r a v e l b y
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CHESTERFIELD, WITH PULLED PORK, CHEDDAR, HICKORY BBQ, AND CARAMELIZED ONIONS
Another Middle Eastern restaurant has come to the Gables: Levant, named after the Mediterranean region of Western Asia that includes Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and most of Turkey (also Cyprus, depending on who you ask). At the Coral Gables restaurant, which opened in late April, all the chefs are Turkish and the owners hail from Iraq. The food is similarly eclectic, featuring dishes from across the Levant, including Lebanese batata harra (spicy potatoes), Grecian Saganaki cheese, and Turkish baklava. It’s a family-run business, located at the site of the now defunct Crudos ArtHouse and taking much of its interior décor from the former tenant.
Many a restaurant has tried (and failed) to reign supreme over the rectangular space just off Miracle Mile, but the owners say Levant is different. Their family “specializes in cursed spaces,” says Mohammed Ahmed, who operates the business alongside his sister and father. “We take those locations that nobody else wants because it’s changed hands so many times, and we breathe life into it…. Not a lot of our people know our food, and a lot of people view the Middle East as a chaotic, crazy place…. But the one thing that makes everybody shut up is the food. When it comes to food, that’s when everyone says, ‘No, no, no.’ We sit down, we eat, we drink, and we party.” And it’s true – even your most reviled enemy would mend fences with you over that baklava. Bon appétit ■
2415 PONCE DE LEON
Grilled Cheese Gallery
One of the most interesting things about this specialty hole-in-thewall is its founder’s story. Jeffrey Thompson spent the early part of his career operating a fine dining restaurant in West Palm Beach, but then decided to leave the world of haute cuisine to make grilled cheese for a living. The rest is history. “It’s comfort food, it’s for everybody, and there’s a lot you can do it with it,” says Thompson. This is apparent when you consider the Gallery’s menu, which consists entirely of affordable grilled cheeses, salads, and poutine. The sandwiches range from $8 to $15 and feature a wide range of unexpected ingredients, from kimchi to truffle oil to fresh lobster (remnants from Thompson’s fine dining days). Some of the heartier options are stuffed with macaroni and cheese and each can be ordered with a $2 side of tomato basil soup, perfect for dipping.
The Grilled Cheese Gallery now has five Florida locations and one in Massachusetts, but the Coral Gables iteration is the newest, opening just over a month ago. The heavenly comfort food is also available through most food delivery platforms, great for a lazy night at home on the couch.
1573 SUNSET DR. 786.953.4056
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No passport. No problem.
Here in The Florida Keys & Key West, we love making new discoveries. Fortunately for us, one of our favorite places to explore is right in our own backyard. With hundreds of miles of warm, clear water, world-class boating, fishing, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, ecotours, wildlife and countless other diversions, there really is no place like home.
Key Resort & Marina
Experience this extraordinary, vibrant waterfront resort in the heart of Old Town Key West. 866-790-2197 opalcollection.com/opal-key
Sunset Key Cottages
Situated on an exclusive 27-acre island off Key West with a complimentary launch to luxurious 2-4 bedroom cottages. 855-995-9799 opalcollection.com/ sunset-key-cottages
Reefhouse Resort & Marina
Embrace the laid-back luxury of our beautiful Key Largo Resort & Marina. 866-384-9814 opalcollection.com/reefhouse
Key West Beach Resort
Experience the best Key West lifestyle with casual oceanfront luxury, spacious rooms and suites, terrace dining, and a lagoon-style pool. 305-292-9800
History of Diving Museum
Dive in for family fun, scavenger hunts, special themed activities, events, exhibits & more. Find unique items in Museum Store. 305-664-9737 divingmuseum.org
Drew Kern Closes a Sale EVERY 4 DAYS
305.329.7744 | KERN.D@EWM.COM | WWW.DREWKERN.COM DREW KERN Sr. Vice President BHHS EWM Realty
Townhome in Royal Harbour Yacht Club 6226 Paradise Point Drive 3 BR | 3 FULL BA | 3 HALF BA | 4,111 SF OFFERED FOR $1,850,000 Metropolis Condo by Dadeland 9055 SW 73rd Ct # 1506 2 BR | 2 BA | 1,350 SF OFFERED FOR $459,900 Spacious Home on Corner Lot 7910 SW 170 Street 4 BR | 3.5 BA | 3,969 SF OFFERED FOR $1,295,000 15121 SW 69 Court 4 BR | 2 BA | 1,942 SF OFFERED FOR $1,200,000 Spacious Home in Cul-de-sac 16671 SW 79 Court 5 BR | 4.5 BA | 3,684 SF OFFERED FOR $1,399,932 Stunning, 1923 Spanish Style Home 1116 Asturia Avenue 5 BR | 3.5 BA | 4,263 SF OFFERED FOR $3,395,000 Now, more than ever, it’s important for sellers to hire a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent to negotiate the best possible deal for their home. Contact me today and I would be happy to prepare a complimentary market analysis for your home. Modern and Open Concept Home 15725 SW 89 Avenue 4 BR | 2 BA | 2,158 SF OFFERED FOR $1,050,000 Lovely home in North Palmetto Bay 7012 SW 149 Terrace 3 BR | 2 BA | 2,149 SF OFFERED FOR $1,180,000 Sprawling Estate in the Redland 17205 SW 256th Street 4 BR | 4.5 BA | 5,655 SF OFFERED FOR $2,500,000
Featuring: Katie Meier & Jim Larrañaga
BELKYS PEREZ, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, CITY OF CORAL GABLES
Katie Meier & Jim Larrañaga
Both of University of Miami’s head basketball coaches have had long, illustrious careers going back to their college days. Women’s basketball coach Katie Meier is considered one of the greatest athletes ever to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference, earning numerous accolades as a basketball player at Duke University in the late ‘80s. In 2005, she joined the Hurricanes, continuing an impressive NCAA coaching run, and is now UM’s winningest coach of all-time in either the men’s or women’s basketball programs with 324 wins. Meier was AP’s National Coach of the Year in 2011 and has now coached five All-Americans-turned WNBA draft picks over the course of her time at Miami.
Men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga graduated from Providence College in 1971 and immediately began a robust career coaching various NCAA men’s basketball teams. In 2011, he came to Coral Gables to coach the Hurricanes, leading them to six NCAA tournament appearances and an ACC tournament title in 2013. He is the winningest coach in the UM men’s program’s history and a twotime ACC Coach of the Year.
During the 2022-23 season, Coach Larrañaga led the men’s team to the Final Four for the first time in program history on top of winning the ACC Championship for only the second time ever. Coach Meier, meanwhile, led the women’s team to the Elite Eight for the first time during the same year, garnering the twelfth postseason berth in her 18-year Hurricanes career. As a result of this historic success (no other school has had both teams make it to the Elite Eight), both coaches are set to receive contract renewals in the coming weeks.
WHAT THEY SAY
“The most enjoyable aspect of my job is being around young men who are highly dedicated to the game of basketball, devoting their time to their passion, and helping them reach their goals,” says Larrañaga. “We accomplished so many firsts in Miami basketball history… I’m constantly asked if I’m going to retire. Instead of retiring, I’ve signed a contract extension. I love coaching and I’m going to be here a long time.”
“It’s like lightning in a bottle when you make a run like that,” says Meier about her team’s playoffs journey. “Your players’ confidence goes up. Our backs were against the wall and we just kept kicking the door down. The gutsy performances in close games, in [those] big moments… it was awesome. As tough of a schedule as we always have, if you win three games in a row anytime in the season, it’s a great run. But to do it in March and to pick up a game in the ACC tournament as well… that’s [memorable].”
48 coralgablesmagazine.com PEOPLE
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI HEAD BASKETBALL COACHES
Given the stress in recent times, there are likely many who feel and look tired. But if you aren’t actually tired but look it, it can be annoying to have others inquire about your sleep status. Maybe it’s time to consider some aesthetic improvements to get you looking closer to how you feel.
In many patients, some Botox® and filler therapy or other non-surgical procedure may already do the trick. But as the years advance, a tired facial appearance may result from a variety of factors not so easily injected away.
Excess upper eyelid skin, for one, makes the eyes appear heavy, and understandably so, as the excess skin weighs down on the eyelid. An ‘Upper Blepharoplasty’ (Eyelid Lift) removes the skin redundancy, allowing the eyes to appear more open and no longer tired. This, along with the occasional Botox®, is effective for many.
Some patients develop significant ‘bags’ under their eyes lending the appearance of not having slept or being overworked. This can be improved with a ‘Lower Blepharoplasty’ to reduce or redistribute the bulging fat below the eyes. It needs to be done conservatively as the lower lid is more sensitive than the upper. Often, skillfully utilized filler therapy in this area can produce enough improvement and avoid surgery.
Another contributor to a tired look, though considerably less common, might be your brows: they may have become droopy, especially on the sides. A ‘Lateral Browlift’ lifts the outer, droopy area of the brow while Botox® is assisting in the frown and crowfoot areas. Only rarely is a full browlift needed. In the past, before Botox®, these were common but at times created a less than desirable surgical or ‘surprised’ look.
Beyond eyes and brows, sagging cheeks with jowls, as well as a droopy neck, can certainly make you look tired and aging. The ‘Lower Face/Neck Lift’ will effectively address these concerns and restore a younger, more youthful, and re-energized look with a clean jawline - a key characteristic of youth.
Often, it is a combo of some of the above to create the desired effect. What is most beneficial for a particular patient requires an honest aesthetic assessment, along with a realistic discussion. The overall goal is to end up looking like yourself, but a better, fresher and natural-looking version of yourself, without the ‘tired’, and without signs
of surgery. That’s the art part. The least that gets you there, the better, and often, ‘less is more’.
As always, optimal results and happy outcomes require much expertise and experience. So, research carefully and become well informed before proceeding.
... the overall goal is to end up looking like yourself, but a better, fresher and natural-looking version of yourself...
Stephan Baker MD
Plastic Surgery of the Face Breast and Body Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery 305.381.8837 | www.drbaker.com 3850 Bird Road Suite 702, Miami, FL 33146
At the age of 34, University of Miami’s Sophie Mok has already accumulated a long list of degrees and experience in the classical music realm. Originally from Hong Kong, Mok always gravitated towards instruments, starting with the piano and then the oboe. She pursued her passion and earned a bachelor’s degree in classical music from Hong Kong Baptist University. In 2020, she came to the United States to complete her master’s degree in oboe performance at the University of Colorado.
Mok then visited her homeland, where she pushed herself to attend workshops and master classes in conducting with the goal of turning it into a career. She completed her master’s in conducting at the University of Cincinnati but was hungry for more. She took on various gigs – such as conducting for the Orchestre Métropolitain, the Orquesta de Cámara del Municipal de Santiago, and the New Symphony Orchestra, to name a few – before landing at the University of Miami as one of four students in the year-long Artist Diploma in Instrumental Conducting at the Frost School of Music. Here, she has had extensive access to Maestro Gerard Schwarz’s knowledge and resources, gaining independence and confidence as the assistant conductor for the Frost Symphony Orchestra.
Mok was recently appointed as the assistant conductor for the Asian Youth Orchestra. Every year, the orchestra’s organizers audition tens of thousands of the finest pre-professional musicians from all over Asia and the selected 100-plus members go on a tour. This summer, Mok will be rehearsing and performing in Italy, Germany, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, and Japan. In her role, she will conduct sectional rehearsals and assist the principal conductor with sound balance and additional musician rehearsals. Mok says she’s extremely excited to work with highly skilled players and gain the same hands-on experience as a professional assistant conductor.
“As a conductor, our instrument is the orchestra,” says Mok. “When I was an oboist, I remember multiple times just sitting thinking, ‘I don’t think the piece should go like this.’ The urge was growing in me to do music the way I wanted to. [Conducting] is like having a conversation with the composer… I learn so much about [their] style, about the technique. When you merge that information and knowledge together, you can come up with your own understanding of the piece. To then be able to execute it with the orchestra – to connect with musicians and have some kind of spiritual connection – is very rewarding.”
50 coralgablesmagazine.com PEOPLE
ASSISTANT CONDUCTOR, FROST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA/ASIAN YOUTH ORCHESTRA
“THE URGE WAS GROWING IN ME TO DO MUSIC THE WAY I WANTED TO...”
2817 Columbus Blvd, Coral Gables
Boasting a unique combination of character and history, stunning designer updates, and a highly-coveted location on storied Columbus Blvd, this property is an absolute dream. The modern upgrades throughout the interior perfectly complement the character & charm of the original 1925 architecture, resulting in a flawless blend of old and new. The private primary suite includes an office, sitting room, & luxurious bath, while 5 additional en-suite bedrooms, a dedicated office, & full guest/in-law quarters provide ample space for family & friends Outside, you'll find a beautiful pool, brick patio, and summer kitchen, perfect for relaxing or entertaining guests Impact windows & doors, newer roof, and stunning canopy of banyan trees provide the finishing touches on this impressive Gables home.
Real Estate Advisor 305.608.8750 email@example.com
6 BD 6 BA 4,496 SF $4,950,000
Not ntended o sol c cur ent y l sted p ope ty © Compass F or da LLC Equal Hous ng Opportun ty A nfo mat on fu n shed regard ng property for sa e or rent or regarding f nanc ng s rom sources deemed rel ab e but Compass makes no wa ranty or represen at on as to the accuracy thereof A property nfo mat on is p esented sub ect to e o s o ssio s p ce cha ges cha ged p ope ty co d t o s a d thd a a o the p ope ty f o the a ket w thout not ce
Belkys Perez joined the City of Coral Gables in 2006, following her career as an Emmy-nominated news reporter at several television news stations in Florida. She also assisted the City of Miami Beach’s government television channel in delivering strategic messaging. Since 2006, Perez has worked in the city’s economic development department, initially as a marketing and events specialist. Among other projects, she oversaw the marketing and public relations efforts for the Miracle Mile and Giralda Plaza Streetscape Project, a multi-million dollar construction project which included developing media, community, and business outreach. She also managed the year-long celebration marking the City’s 90th anniversary to increase awareness and appreciation of Coral Gables.
After serving since last August as the acting director of the Economic Development Department, her confirmation to the role of director was recently made official by the City Commission. Prior to accepting this position, Perez was highly active as the assistant director, developing programs to help small businesses in Coral Gables and helping craft and implement the city’s economic development strategies for business recruitment, retention, expansion, and engagement.
WHAT SHE SAYS
“There are four things I am going to focus on this fiscal year [which ends Sept. 30],” says Perez. “The first is to bring more international and foreign companies here. We believe that large corporations and multinationals have a multiplier effect, that every job they bring in adds two more jobs in support capacities.” The second thing, says Perez, is to make sure that we have a clean and inviting downtown “with the amenities and events that attract the business [employees] so they will spend more time here.” The third thing is to focus on the South Gables to “make sure it feels like Coral Gables and feels connected” with the rest of the city. “Fourth,” she says, “is to emphasize that we have a smart city, and make sure we leverage that for recruiting tech companies.”
52 coralgablesmagazine.com PEOPLE
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, CITY OF CORAL GABLES
“THE FIRST IS TO BRING MORE INTERNATIONAL AND FOREIGN COMPANIES HERE. WE HAVE AN INTENTIONAL PRESENCE, BUT WE MUST INCREASE IT… ”
MA S TER S
A Tribute to the Centennial of Jesus Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz Diez
Experience Pioneering Works of Two Universal Op and Kinetic Artists
Members Preview : Thursday June 1st, 6-9 PM
General Opening: F riday June 2nd, 6-10 PM Gallery Night
T H A T CH A N GE D T H E C IT Y
Become a Member Learn More
AVILA / Atelier Soto - Paris
Curated by Yuni Villalonga, Director of Curatorial Programs, Coral Gables Museum On view through October 22nd, 2023 in the Carole A. Fewell Gallery
BY NATALIA CLEMENT / PHOTOS BY RODOLFO BENITEZ
Asignificant part of what makes Coral Gables beautiful is our commitment to enhancing the outdoor experience – from preserving the lush canopy that makes it pleasurable to stroll in the otherwise punishing South Florida heat to the strict adherence to architectural guidelines that differentiate our homes and public
THE ART IN PUBLIC PLACES PROGRAM CELEBRATES THE CULTURE AND BEAUTY OF OUR CITY
“STORM” AT PASEO
PUBLIC ART IS, BY DEFINITION, OF THE PUBLIC REALM, THEREFORE IT’S ARTWORK FOR EVERYONE... ”
CATHERINE CATHERS, CORAL GABLES ARTS AND CULTURE SPECIALIST
buildings. The city’s Art in Public Places Program seeks to build on that idea, elevating the pedestrian experience through the commissioning, acquiring, and exhibiting of a variety of artworks throughout the Gables.
The program was first proposed as an ordinance in 2007 (and went into effect in 2010) in part to comply with Miami-Dade’s art in public places requirements for municipalities. The county requires 1.5 percent of municipal construction projects to be allocated towards public art. Coral Gables took it a step further by requiring the allocation of one percent of private development projects valued at or over $1 million. By having its own program, the city has more participation and control over what art goes where. According to the city’s Arts and Culture Specialist Catherine Cathers, this provides added flexibility that allows Coral Gables to focus on museum-quality artists and artwork.
The overarching goal is to display public art that not only preserves the city’s artistic heritage, but also enhances its character and identity. The carefully curated roster of high-level art adds beauty and interest to our outdoor spaces, increasing public opportunities to experience the arts. Between works owned by the city (on public property) and those owned by developers participating in the program (on private property), over 30 artworks are scattered throughout various neighborhoods in Coral Gables.
Cathers sees public art as a way to enhance community spaces with a range of styles, sizes, and materials, creating opportunities for interaction, education, and discourse. “Public art is, by definition, of the public realm, therefore it’s artwork for everyone,” Cathers says. “The same piece is often perceived in different ways…. For me, it’s one of the most interesting and engaging things about it and what it
“MEMOIRS” (2020, BLESSING HANCOCK) is composed of two stainless steel companion sculptures that explore the patterns of language and collective memories of the residents in the Golden Gate and MacFarlane neighborhoods. Blessing Hancock is known for her large-scale, illuminated, and site-specific sculptures that she creates by working with the local community. The open design is made up of phrases – the memories and histories of the residents across the street. “You can spend a lot of time walking around it and reading it,” says Cathers. “It not only informs people about the community and about Coral Gables in general, but it’s also very personal.”
The artwork was commissioned by real estate investment and development company Nolan Reynolds International through the Art in Public Places program. The developer was originally going to donate one of the two pieces to the city, positioning it on the section of The Underline next to the Lifetime building, with the companion piece on the property’s plaza. However, due to The Underline’s delays, both pieces were placed in the plaza.
brings to the community.”
Because art is subjective, determining its beauty is up to the observer. Cathers says the city’s public art pieces usually engender zealous resident feedback. “There are as many experiences and opinions, and loves and not loves, as there are people,” she says. “What I love is the passion people show for certain artworks and hearing about what their favorite – and not so favorite ones – are. That kind of passion demonstrates that a work is really a success. In the art world, there’s nothing worse than a piece that has no response, that people walk by and don’t notice.”
A prime example of one of the city’s more controversial pieces
is “Passion/Passiflora Incarnation,” the larger of two metallic flower installations located on the roundabouts on Segovia Street just west of City Hall. “This is a piece that people either really love or they don’t,” Cathers says. “I seldom, if ever, hear somebody go, ‘Eh.’ It’s definitely a piece that’s embraced strongly on both sides of the spectrum.”
Like everything else in the Gables, potential featured artists and their works go through extensive screening processes. A piece can be acquired in several ways: through open competition, where artists apply for consideration after meeting qualifications and submitting proposals; through limited competition, where a shortlist of artists are asked to submit proposals; or through direct selection by a city committee. These proposals are first vetted by the city’s Arts Advisory Panel; those which are recommended go to the Cultural Development Board. Both are volunteer boards made up of local artists, residents, and art experts, appointed by the city commission and city manager. The proposals are ultimately presented for a final decision to the city commission.
Cathers has a hand throughout the whole process, being the staff liaison for both panels and the city’s go-to art expert. She’s
“MEAN AVERAGE” (2013, TONY CRAGG) is the landmark piece for The Plaza Coral Gables. The 19-foot abstract bronze sculpture is the work of prominent contemporary sculptor Tony Cragg. Cathers describes it as a welcoming feature with its fluidity in shape creating a sense of familiarity and warmth. It was originally located on Park Avenue in New York City before being moved to Germany, where it was purchased for $1.24 million by Agave Holdings, the owner of The Plaza, and ultimately brought to the Gables.
“ THIS IS A PIECE THAT PEOPLE EITHER REALLY LOVE OR THEY DON’T. I SELDOM, IF EVER, HEAR SOMEBODY GO, ‘EH...’
CATHERINE CATHERS, CORAL GABLES ARTS AND CULTURE SPECIALIST ON “PASSION/PASSIFLORA INCARNATION,” SHOWN ABOVE
“A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM” (2018, R&R STUDIOS), located in Balboa Square, is a prime example of enhancing our outdoor spaces. This large scale, coral rock sculptural bench is approximately 30-feet long and four-feet high; its immensity can be seen if you’ve ever sat on it. Creating the sense of an outdoor living room, the bench is framed by 14-foot-high lamps and complemented by a second piece, “Coral Carpet,” composed of inlaid terrazzo. Cathers highlights the welcoming aspect of this public art piece and how it encourages picnics and outdoor play in what was once just a plot of grass. An added bonus is the plaza’s Wi-Fi, which can provide a change of scenery for visitors who work from home. This piece was the first donation from a developer under the Art in Public Places Program, gifted by MG Developer to the City of Coral Gables.
“CABEZA XVII” (2018-2019, ARTURO BERNED) is located near “Memoirs” and also commissioned and owned by Nolan Reynolds International. Arturo Berned, an architect and sculptor, conceives and develops works based on mathematical laws and the golden ratio associated with the Fibonacci sequence. This piece, which looks like some sort of brain teaser or puzzle, was assembled on-site and then welded together.
The corten steel material changes with time due to outdoor elements, dripping into the ground beneath it. Cathers highlights the extensive thought process that went into deciding how to display this piece. Instead of placing it directly on concrete, which would have caused the piece to stain the ground with rust, they went with an elevated position over plants.
TRANSCENDENT CLAY KONDO: A CENTURY OF JAPANESE CERAMIC ART
on view through September 24, 2023
Kondo Takahiro (b. 1958), Large White Porcelain Vessel, 2019. Glazed porcelain, 20 1/2 × 21 7/8 × 17 3/4 inches. Collection of Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz. Photo: Mugyūda Hyōgo. © Kondo Takahiro
worked 15 years for the city, 12 of which have been as the administrator of the Art in Public Places program. The scope of her job covers the acquisition of art from start to finish, from reviewing and approving major construction projects and building permits for program compliance, to drafting legislative material and presenting it to the city commission, to project management and communication with artists.
“I get to work with so many different people on so many different projects; I cannot do what I do alone,” says Cathers. “I’m very grateful for those interactions and relationships and the expertise that the artists, their teams, and city staff provide. I literally work with every department in the city, along with the cultural institutions, residents, business owners, and civic organizations. I love my job.”
In terms of upkeep, the Art in Public Places Program allocates funds for restoration work and extraordinary maintenance, while regular maintenance (like cleaning the pieces) is covered by the city’s Public Works Department. Recently, 14 pieces were restored through a combination of work by professional conservators and a public works team. Cathers says that as Coral Gables’ collection has grown, the city has had to figure out best practices and guidelines for maintenance. Some pieces may require more specific upkeep than others, such as “Passion/Passiflora Incarnation,” which requires a biannual visit from the fabricator to make sure it’s up to par and that the water misters are working.
Cathers is excited for the program’s further expansion, teasing that multiple projects are in the works but have not yet been made public. One potential acquisition that’s been receiving lots of buzz is a piece by Frank Stella, a major contributor to modernism and abstract expressionism who is considered one of the greatest living American artists. In March, the city commission voted 5-0 to pursue the purchase of a $1.25 million piece, the funds of which will come
RUTH (EXUBERANT PINK)” (2018, HANK
WILLIS THOMAS) is part of the series “The Truth Is I Welcome You,” consisting of four artwork benches and 22 speech bubble-shaped signs by Hank Willis Thomas. Owned by the city, the four benches are scattered throughout Coral Gables, with this one accompanying the signs on Miracle Mile. Thomas is a conceptual artist who focuses on exploring identity, place, history, and pop culture. His works are collaborative projects that involve the community; case in point being the speech bubbles, which display messages of truth and personal connection in 23 languages spoken throughout the Gables.
Cathers describes the art bench as “sitting in your own thoughts – literally.” The piece encourages viewers to think about what it’s like to inhabit their own speech and beliefs. The bright colors used in all four benches reflect the Gables’ tropical environment, and Thomas includes a personal element by including the names of his extended family as the works’ titles.
entirely from the Arts in Public Places Program. Cathers says the program aims to maintain a balance in the types of artworks it acquires, focusing on the variety and quality of the pieces. “As we build the collection, we are striving for works by significant artists that will build on the identity of the city as a place of world-class art.” ■
FOR AN INTERACTIVE GUIDE TO ALL PUBLIC ARTWORKS IN THE CITY, USE THIS QR CODE.
THE CHINESE VILLAGE IS THE MOST COLORFUL OF THE GABLES’ VILLAGES, LOCATED IN A WALLED COMPOUND JUST SOUTH OF US-1 ON RIVIERA DRIVE.
OPPOSITE: DETAIL OF THE EAVE OF A CHINESE ROOF DECORATED WITH A PROCESSION OF FIGURES, WITH THE TAIL BEING THE IMPERIAL DRAGON AND THE HEAD OF THE PROCESSION BEING A MAN RIDING A PHOENIX
ONE OF THE UNIQUE ARCHITECTURAL ELEMENTS OF THE CITY’S FABRIC ARE THE SEVEN THEMED ‘VILLAGES’ PLANNED – AND PARTIALLY EXECUTED
– BY CITY FATHER GEORGE MERRICK
BY KAREN F. BUCHSBAUM
They were building faster than anywhere else in America, sometimes getting houses under roof within two weeks of breaking ground, completing exotic and magnificent homes within six to 12 months. It was the beginning of the expansion of Coral Gables in 1925. The “Riviera Section” was planned to feature 1,000 thematically designed home styles of “most countries in the tropical belt around the word,” as reported in the 1929 Miami Herald. Only 80 would ever be built.
Builders and architects from around the country joined the Coral Gables design team led by artistic director Denman Fink, architect and color expert Phineas Paist, and designer Paul Chalfin of
Vizcaya fame. Twelve architects were working on various styles planned to “harmonize with the Mediterranean styles now in use.”
Organized and very specific plans for the city were spelled out in warranty deeds during the ’20s. Overall building styles were restricted to those of “Spanish, Venetian, Moorish, Italian, or other similarly harmonious types.” The architectural exceptions were spelled out, block by block, lot by lot, to include 15 “types”: Italian Village, Javanese, Italian Country, Chinese Compound, Spanish Bazaar and Town, Neopolitan Baroque, Tangier Village, Persian Village, Dutch South African, Florida Pioneer, Mexican Village, Tang-
ier Bazaar, (North) African Bazaar, French Eighteenth Century, and Persian Canal.
Details included how homes should be positioned on each lot with required dimensions for perimeter walls and fences (which were not allowed on regular homesites). In the deeds, three additional distinctive types, without specific boundaries, were identified: Venetian Country, French Country House, and Venetian Town or Canal homes. Homes in some of these styles do exist outside any Village boundaries, many with their own historic designation.
Advertising and news articles contributed to our current confusion about exactly how many thematic villages were planned and what they were called. Much of the publicity referred to 13 themes, which may have been due to combining styles such as Italian Country and Italian Village. The promotional effort also played loose with the thematic names using the more logical “Colonial” for “Florida Pioneer,” for example, or referring to “French Farmhouse and cottage types” as “Algerian” and “South Sea Isles” styles. Adding to the mash-up is the fact some of the designated historic district Villages have been renamed for clarity’s sake by more contemporary historians.
The plans in Coral Gables were not static. They evolved as the fortunes of the area, and the country, changed. A planned bayside hotel was never built, land in Key Biscayne was returned to the county, and plans to build islets just off Tahiti Beach (now in Cocoplum) and homes as far south as Chapman Field never came to pass.
WHAT IS A FLORIDA PIONEER HOME?
Among the first under construction were five stately “colonial” homes along the Biltmore Golf Course (now the Riviera Country Club course) on Santa Maria Street. Today, these homes comprise “The Florida Pioneer Village” designated a Historic District in 1989 by the City of Coral Gables. There is often confusion about this Village – anyone looking for small, traditional, cracker-style cabins is in for quite a surprise to discover these large, two-story Colonial and Greek Revival-style homes.
Designed by John and Coulton Skinner, grand porticos with commanding columns and picket fences are common features. Interiors were promoted as having vaulted ceilings, winding stairways, great arches, four to six bedrooms, servants’ quarters, guest suites, and many bathrooms. It made perfect sense that ads for this Village began using headlines announcing a “Colonial” style.
They proclaimed that “visitors from New England, Virginia, or Georgia” would “find homes which reflect the beauty and charm of the best cultured life at home.”
A rendering of an Italian Country House under construction was featured in The Miami News in the fall of 1925, built by Meyers-Cooper Co. of Cincinnati and designed by architects Frank Wyatt Woods and John Tracey. Other architects who contributed to
various Italian-style homes included Alfred L. Klingbeil, John and Coulton Skinner, R.F. Ware, and Robert Law Weed. This area of the Gables, loosely defined by San Antonio and San Esteban Avenues, and Monserrate and Segovia Streets, is the largest and most undefined of the Villages. In 1992, Coral Gables designated the area containing 17 thematic homes, the Italian Village, as a Historic Landmark District. Sometimes also referred to as Italian Country and Tuscan-style, these freestanding homes vary from bungalows to villas, and are spread
THE FLORIDA PIONEER VILLAGE, DESIGNATED A HISTORIC DISTRICT IN 1989, CONSISTS OF FIVE STATELY COLONIAL HOMES ON THE RIVIERA COUNTRY CLUB GOLF COURSE (FORMERLY PART OF THE BILTMORE COURSE) ON SANTA MARIA STREET.
THE ITALIAN VILLAGE, TOP LEFT, DESIGNATED A HISTORIC DISTRICT IN 1992, CONTAINS 17 HOMES LOOSELY DEFINED BY SAN ANTONIO & SAN ESTEBAN AVENUES AND MONSERRATE & SEGOVIA STREETS. IT IS THE LARGEST AND MOST UNDEFINED OF THE VILLAGES.
THE CHINESE VILLAGE, BELOW, THE FIRST DESIGNATED HISTORIC DISTRICT IN 1986, IS THE MOST OBVIOUS AND COLORFUL OF THE GABLES’ VILLAGES, FEATURING EIGHT HOMES WITHIN A WALLED COMPOUND LOCATED JUST SOUTH OF US-1 ON RIVIERA DRIVE.
among various blocks with no common walls.
As with other styles, some of these homes are outside the historically designated area and may have historic designation on their own merits. Examples include Italian Country homes on Santa Maria and Pinta Court described in a 1927 Miami Herald article.
DRAMATIC CHINESE ADAPTATION
The first of eight planned homes in the Chinese Village were quickly completed in 1926, and no others were ever built. The American Building Corporation from Cincinnati, the largest builder working in the Riviera District, brought in America’s foremost authority on Chinese architecture, Henry Killam Murphy, from New York. Murphy had spent considerable time in China, including as a visiting professor with the Yale-in-China program. His design is the most obvious and colorful of the Gables’ Villages, located just south of US-1 on Riviera Drive. Having stood the test of time with thoughtful renovations throughout the years, it may be the only such architectural example in the country. With features more often associated with very ornate Chinese temples and public buildings, the compound also brings to mind the disappearing hutong courtyards once so common in multigenerational Chinese homes.
In this first Gables’ Village Historic District, established in 1986, the Chinese Village homes are bound together by an external wall broken up by openings featuring lattice and bamboo-style inserts, bright doorways, and two-car garages. Interiors feature ample living spaces, servants’ quarters on the first floor, and five bedrooms and
two baths on the upper level. You can’t miss the richly glazed upturned rooftops in blue, green, and red, and with closer inspection you can spot Chinese guardian dogs watching from roof corners to protect the homes and residents.
DUTCH SOUTH AFRICAN INTERPRETATION
Not as much has been written about “The Dutch South African Village” by architect Marion Syms Wyeth, designated a Historic District in 1987. Located between Le Jeune Road, San Vincent Street, and Maya Avenue, the five completed homes include four within a common walled compound and one free-standing.
Inspired by the Cape Dutch style of homes built by wealthy Boers who settled in South Africa in the 1600s, and still seen in the South African wine country, the homes have distinguishing scrollwork, ornately rounded gables, and steeply pitched gabled roofs. Their white-washed walls and distinctive spiral chimneys are easy to spot.
Wyeth was also the architect who designed the never-built Persian Canal Village.
FRENCH, FRENCH, & MORE FRENCH
There are three French Villages in Coral Gables. Only one was ever described when built as simply the French Village, off Le Jeune Road on Viscaya Avenue. Somewhere over the years, but well after the Villages were built, the “Normandy” title became associated with this group as a way to distinguish it from the other French architectural styles. “The French Normandy Village” was designated a Historic District in 1987, containing 11 original homes, of which two have currently been combined into one larger residence. The design was inspired by the intimate scale and cozy appearance of provincial European villages, complete with picturesque half-timbered ornamentation, gabled roofs, and dormers.
These townhouses were the smallest of the villages and were constructed with two bedrooms on the second floor and a bed-closet (a closet containing a pull-down bed) on the first. Eleven of the planned 71 were completed. The Skinner brothers, who designed the Colonial Village and some Italian-style homes, were the architects and focused on cross-ventilation, casement windows, and screened porches. Houses were built right up to the street with garages opened to the front and French-style gardens in the back.
The second batch was under construc-
TOP: THE DUTCH SOUTH AFRICAN VILLAGE, DESIGNATED A HISTORIC DISTRICT IN 1987, FEATURES FIVE HOMES ON LE JEUNE ROAD BETWEEN SAN VINCENT STREET AND MAYA AVENUE.
ABOVE & LEFT: THE FRENCH NORMANDY VILLAGE, DESIGNATED A HISTORIC DISTRICT IN 1987, CONTAINS 11 TOWNHOUSES, OF WHICH TWO HAVE BEEN COMBINED INTO ONE LARGER RESIDENCE. LOCATED OFF THE WEST SIDE OF LE JEUNE ON VISCAYA AVENUE.
tion after the devastating hurricane of 1926, and newspaper ads proclaimed, “They are built under Coral Gables’ new building code, with hollow tile walls, poured reinforced concrete foundations, lintels reinforced, and general construction in keeping with the demands of all tropical experience.”
By 1930, the project was in foreclosure, after which it housed University of Miami fraternities in the mid-1930s and soldiers during World War II. The homes then returned to individual ownership.
FRENCH CITY & FRENCH COUNTRY STYLES CLARIFIED
Hardee Road is home to the other two French-inspired Villages. The original plan called for a “French 18th Century” Village to be built along Hardee Road and its surrounding streets. Eventually, 28 homes were built. Because the Village was never completed, and several blocks of non-conforming home styles broke up the concept, this area was designated as two historic districts, although with many architectural similarities.
Sixteen of the homes are in the more formally named French City Village, and can be found on the north side of the 1000 block with 11 homes behind a common wall featuring corner pavilions. Nine are free-standing, and two homes are described as a duplex with a shared wall. Originally, they were planned to share a manicured open courtyard with pique assiette mosaic paths, as well as private gardens. The large homes were designed by Mott Schmidt as a reproduction of an 18th century townhome (not townhouse) community. They have extensive detailing and symmetry, with each residence having between four and seven bedrooms. Servants were accommodated with two additional bedrooms and a separate dining room. This group was the last Village to be named a Historic District by the city in 2002.
Across the street, on the south side, are five homes designed by Philip L. Goodwin, two resembling French farmhouses, with others in a more formal, classical style. Although appearing as a free-standing home, again, two share a wall and are technically a duplex.
Just down the road around the 500 block of Hardee Road and Caligula Avenue is the “French Country Village,” designated a Historic District in 1989, with 12 homes (including another duplex). Sometimes described as the French Farm Village, these homes were conceived as more rural country
TOP: FRENCH CITY VILLAGE, DESIGNATED A HISTORIC DISTRICT IN 2002, CAN BE FOUND ON THE 1000 BLOCK OF HARDEE ROAD. ON THE NORTH SIDE, THERE ARE 11 HOMES BEHIND A COMMON WALL. FIVE HOMES ARE ON THE OPPOSITE (SOUTH) SIDE OF THE STREET.
estates. Historians began to call this section “Country” to distinguish it from the more formal homes in the 1000 block, but “Country” does not imply small or primitive, and in France a large country house is a château. These charming château-inspired properties are on both sides of the street and have a distinct appearance with gabled, steeply pitched slate roofs, carved wood, red brick, iron balconies, and round and square towers. Architect Goodwin was joined by Frank Forster and Edgar Albright in designing these homes.
ABOVE: FRENCH COUNTRY VILLAGE, DESIGNATED A HISTORIC DISTRICT IN 1989, HAS 12 HOMES ON THE 500 BLOCK OF HARDEE ROAD AND CALIGULA AVENUE.
A Miami Herald article just a few months shy of the 1929 stock market crash wrote about the architectural zones in Coral Gables and concluded, “Throughout this fascinating city on the fringe of Miami, you will find charming examples of many foreign types, yet all conforming to the general artistic plan.”
For a free, self-guided driving/biking tour of the Seven Villages of Coral Gables, the author has put together a route for The Villagers historic preservation group at: theclio.com/tour/1928. ■
“ IT’S MORE OF A CONNECTION WITH THAT MERRICK PHILOSOPHY. IT’S ABOUT CREATING A COMMUNITY WITH MEDITERRANEAN ASPECTS, DONE IN A CONSERVATIVE MANNER... ”
ALIRIO TORREALBA, CEO OF MG DEVELOPER
The Village 8th
THE VILLAGE AT CORAL GABLES AND MERRICK’S VISION
BY J.P. FABER
Photo by Rodolfo Benitez
Alirio Torrealba would be the first to tell you that calling the Village at Coral Gables the eighth Village envisioned by city founder George Merrick is a somewhat fanciful concept. True, Merrick did plan to build many more of his iconic villages beyond the seven that were actually begun, expanding from the Dutch South African, Chinese, and French villages to even more exotic concepts like Persian Canal and Tangier Bazaar villages. But the idea of a Coral Gables Village was not on the drawing board.
“It’s more of a connection with that [Merrick] philosophy,” says Torrealba. “It’s about creating a community with Mediterranean aspects, done in a conservative manner of maintaining urbanism in balance. It repeats the original vision of the city.” That philosophy, of building in a conservative, Mediterranean style that fits within the fabric of the Gables, has been a hallmark of Torrealba’s projects. As the CEO of MG Developer, he has completed a series of elegant, low-rise townhomes – Beatrice Row, Biltmore Row, Alethea Row, and Biltmore Parc – that together form what he calls Biltmore Square, buildings grouped around the intersection of Valencia Avenue and Anderson Road a few blocks west of City Hall. Together, they help transition the high rises of Biltmore Way, like the David William condominium, to the adjacent single-family homes.
TOP LEFT: POOL IN THE COURTYARD.
TOP RIGHT: VILLAGE CLUBHOUSE
ABOVE LEFT: LOFT LIVING ROOM
ABOVE RIGHT: TOWNHOUSE AND KITCHEN
The Village at Coral Gables is something else, however, and came to Torrealba almost by accident. In 2019, he was approached by a Colombian architect who had assembled all but two of the properties in a city block bounded by Malaga Avenue, Santander Avenue, Segovia Street, and Hernando Street, just north of the War Memorial Youth Center. “He came to me to see what we could do with these properties,” says Torrealba. “He was motivated by what we were doing, and wanted his properties designed in a similar way.”
Torrealba acquired the properties from the architect and negotiated to purchase the remaining holdouts – including buying a comparable home for one of the owners. He then immediately turned to the award-winning architectural firm De La Guardia Victoria Architects & Urbanists, which had designed his townhouses. For principals Teofilo Victoria and Maria de la Guardia, it was a dream opportunity.
“The idea was of bringing certain types of design, a certain co-
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herence, to the urban block, which is what a village is,” says Victoria. “Urban blocks are marvelous in that sense, to form something very beautiful and coherent.” As far as considering it Merrick’s eighth Village, Victoria says that is not too far off the mark. “We thought that, as an idea, it was a self-reference [to the city]. The title of Village at Coral Gables, like the Chinese Village, is a reference to ourselves and to our history.”
“I do see it as a continuing of the American tradition of building villages,” says de la Guardia. “And whereas in [Merrick’s] tradition of building villages, each really referred to an architectural style, either French, Chinese, Norman, or Dutch South African, the Village at Coral Gables is referring not to a style of architecture from other places, but back to Coral Gables itself.”
De la Guardia and Victoria also embraced the Merrick concept of enriching the urban fabric by creating public spaces on which private property would front – like the homes facing the DeSoto Fountain, the Granada Golf Course, or the open greens of Country Club Prado. “The effort is to create a series of common spaces inside the block, which private residences front... so we have courtyards, gardens facing the townhouses, tree-lined alleys, open spaces to organize your buildings, and not just building out the block in its entirety.”
This concept, of creating spaces around which residences were built, “was how Merrick sold lots,” says de la Guardia. However, whereas all the “villages” referred to exotic architecture from far away, “the Village at Coral Gables refers back to Coral Gables and the balance of the City Beautiful movement and the Garden City movement.”
The design of the Village at Coral Gables has, consequently, won accolades from city officials who applaud the effort to design low-rise housing in the Mediterranean style. “We have never seen
a project of this magnitude receive such praise since it was first introduced to the city,” said Mayor Vince Lago. “MG Developer understands the importance of building residences that fall in line with our city’s rich history, tradition, and aesthetic values, which our city is known for.”
The $50 million project, which recently broke ground after being approved by a unanimous city commission, will consist of a mix of townhouses, multi-family lofts, and single detached residences, with prices from $2 to $4 million. It is expected to be completed by the summer of 2025. Beyond the physical beauty of the village, which was scaled back from 52 to 48 units to create more open space, it is designed within the low-rise building code for the area – something for which Torrealba is proud. “We used the correct zoning in each area and joined it all together,” he says. “For the Santander side, we could only build to four floors. For the Malaga side, we could only build two floors. So, we combined those [restrictions] and joined it all together… For this project, we didn’t ask for any exceptions from the city. We designed a product that was adapted to the city [codes].”
As for the details, and what residents – and anyone else who wants to walk through the various public spaces – will experience, Torealba says he was as fastidious as his architects. “For this to work, it’s something you have to be very dedicated to. It’s an art form that had to be detailed as to how it functions. Everything was important and relevant, right down to the garden spaces.”
The entrances to the Village from Santander, for example, will include covered arches similar to those in the city’s Douglas Entrance complex at Douglas Road and SW 8th Street. Care was also taken to provide garages on alleyways behind each building, so that no cars would park in the open, green areas. For the final touch, the Village at Coral Gables will incorporate its own street lighting. “The idea is to call it something like a ‘passage of lights,’ surrounding the entire project,” says Torrealba. “It’s going to be very beautiful, for the City Beautiful.” ■
“ WE THOUGHT THAT, AS AN IDEA, IT WAS A SELFREFERENCE TO THE CITY. THE TITLE OF VILLAGE AT CORAL GABLES, LIKE THE CHINESE VILLAGE, IS A REFERENCE TO OURSELVES AND TO OUR HISTORY.”
ARCHITECT TEOFILO VICTORIA, ABOVE, WITH PARTNER MARIA DE LA GUARDIA
AN EARLY DESIGN SKETCH OF THE GABLES VILLAGE FROM DE LA GUARDIA VICTORIA, ARCHITECTS & URBANISTS
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Aging Well The Art of
Photo by Jonathan Dann
Today’s Coral Gables senior living communities are much more than yesterday’s “retirement homes,” with activities and programs scientifically designed to keep older folks engaged, healthy, smart, and happy.
BY KATELIN STECZ
Dolores “Lola” Domit sits at the bar of The Palace chatting with her friends. Soft jazz plays in the background as the ladies discuss everything from politics to their plans for the week. Other residents enter the foyer and take their seats as happy hour begins. The buzz of conversation falls over the room. Snippets of discussion about a recent lecture on ChatGPT emerge while a
THE LOUNGE AT THE PALACE
debate about medical marijuana continues a few tables over.
Domit orders another glass of pinot grigio and smiles. After working as a diplomat for many years, there’s nothing she loves more than good conversation. In fact, it’s probably one of her favorite things about living at The Palace. There’s never a shortage of good conversation or good company.
According to the CDC, isolation and loneliness can be deadly for seniors. Self-reported loneliness is associated with an increased risk of dementia, stroke, and heart disease, along with other health complications. That’s why senior living communities like The Palace are so vital to healthy aging; they foster social interaction and reinforce a sense of community and belonging among seniors.
“You can hire a chef. You can hire a
nurse. You can hire a housekeeper, a driver, whatever. But you can’t hire friends. That is why this community exists,” says Haim Dubitzky, principal and vice president of performative excellence at The Palace Group. “Socialization, talking to people, interacting... that is the number one thing that keeps people healthy, active, and stimulated.”
Patricia Will, founder and CEO of Belmont Village, agrees with Dubitzky. She also believes that consistent social interaction contributes to a longer and higher quality lifespan. “It’s not just the mental aspect of health that loneliness affects. We have research that shows that isolation actually impacts the immune system and cognitive function,” says Will, who also sits on the board at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California. “When you’re in an environment where you’re fully engaged, firing on all cylinders, you’re much more likely to stave
“IT’S NOT JUST THE MENTAL ASPECT OF HEALTH THAT LONELINESS AFFECTS. WE HAVE RESEARCH THAT SHOWS THAT ISOLATION ACTUALLY IMPACTS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION...”
PATRICIA WILL, FOUNDER AND CEO OF BELMONT VILLAGE ABOVE LEFT: BELLMONT VILLAGE AND THE SCREENING ROOM.
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off the effects of cognitive decline.”
The Palace, like other senior living communities, seeks to make social interaction as easy as possible for its residents. This means removing some of the prohibitive barriers to interaction that seniors living by themselves might encounter making plans, driving, walking longer distances, etc. “It’s just easier for residents. They’re already going to come down and eat dinner, and at least here they may bump into 30 people on their way down. Then they have someone to eat with,” says Dubitzky.
Daily happy hours, organized brunches, water aerobics, pottery classes, farmer’s markets, speed dating events, and lectures on everything from WWI to the latest iPhone are just a few of the ways Miami’s senior living communities create a sense of community among their residents.
EXERCISE AND NUTRITION
Some communities like East Ridge at Cutler Bay try to combine social interaction with physical activity. Lauren Pazo, in charge of community outreach marketing at East Ridge, says the community’s walking club is a hit among residents.
“Sometimes in the mornings when I’m pulling up, I see all of the residents walking, and you know some of them have said to me, ‘Oh, I’d never get up this early and do this on my own.’ But here they have something that keeps them accountable and active,” says Pazo.
Staying active is just as important when it comes to a longer and healthier lifespan – AKA one’s “healthspan.” Something as simple as taking a daily walk can significantly reduce seniors’ risk of bone density-related issues and chronic disease. Preventive measures like stretching and resistance training can also improve the quality of seniors’ lives. The Watermark, for example, has a full-length, rooftop pool for aquatic workouts. However, as Belmont’s Will emphasizes, exercise programs must take its participants’ age and limitations into account to be effective. For Will, this means including a healthy dose of physical rehab in the Belmont Village’s exercise programming.
“You’re not going to have an 85-yearold on the floor doing push-ups, but we do have really skillful rehab staff that carefully analyze physical limitations that can be worked on, things like mobility, gait, working on the musculature around your joints, and increasing your physical strength,” says Will. “It’s these things that will contribute to a better lifespan and keep them active.”
Nutrition also contributes to a longer
ABOVE: THE COMMUNITY IS THE HEART OF EAST RIDGE AT CUTLER BAY, WITH PROGRAMS THAT INCLUDE BARBECUES BY THE POOL AREA OR GROWING HOUSEPLANTS IN THE GREENHOUSE
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SENIOR FACILITIES OPTIONS
4201 SOUTH LEJUENE RD. 305.446.7171
EAST RIDGE AT CUTLER BAY
19301 SW 87TH AVE. 305.256.3545
THE PALACE 1 ANDALUSIA AVE. 786.441.8800
WATERMARK AT CORAL GABLES 363 GRANELLO AVE. 786.688.6010
healthspan. Even though there seems to be a different fad about the best diet every other day, most experts agree that a diet based on whole foods with lots of fruits and veggies, and with a limited amount of processed foods, is best. For some people, that means the Mediterranean diet. For others, keto. Regardless, the benefits that come out of these diet trends stem from limiting processed foods and focusing on nutrients.
“I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it,’” says Dubitzky. “Well, it’s true.”
Another pillar of healthy aging involves cognitive engagement. As you age, neural plasticity and the number of neural pathways in your brain decreases significantly, and the only way to slow this process is to remain cognitively active. In fact, some studies show that you can continue to create new neural pathways regardless of age; multiple studies show that seniors who continually challenge their brains with reading, writing, and other stimulating activities have a much lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
To safeguard against cognitive decline, most senior living communities have extensive programming centered around retaining cognitive function, which usually means classes and opportunities for learning.
The Watermark at Coral Gables has a program called Watermark University that allows its members to share their professional pasts and teach a class to other members. Given the professional history of its members, this gives way to some interesting classes.
“Classes are different at every Watermark community and reflect the unique interests of its members and associates. Some communities have seen members who are
fluent in French lead a French class to fellow members, chefs lead a sushi-making class, or even a maintenance associate lead a floral arranging class,” says Rene Sanz, executive director of the community.
The Palace, East Ridge, and the Belmont Village also offer a variety of classes that cater to their residents’ interests and promote lifelong learning. Attending classes and learning more not only keeps residents’ brains active and staves off degenerative brain disease, but it also opens the door to new hobbies.
“The period between 65 and 105 is a gift. You have the opportunity to take up new pastimes, find new interests, and try the things that you otherwise didn’t have time for when you were younger,” says Will, whose Belmont Village – due to open this
fall – is almost like a small college campus, with different rooms devoted to art, music, classes, and film screenings. There is also a library with computers and a grand piano in the “Great Room.”
Although every senior living community is different and offers its own sort of unique amenities, there seems to be a consistent philosophy among all of them. The best way to maintain health in the later part of your life is to remain social, stay active, and keep learning. Or, as still-vibrant actor Dick Van Dyke, now 97, puts it, “You just have to keep moving.” ■
ABOVE: THE WATERMARK AT CORAL GABLES HAS EXTENSIVE FACILITIES, INCLUDING A LUXURY ROOTOP POOL AREA
SENIOR LIVING REDEFINED
By Belmont Village and Baptist Health.
At Belmont Village, senior living goes beyond luxury amenities and hospitality – it’s anticipating your every need, so you can enjoy life. You can rely on best-in-class care with licensed nurses on-site 24/7, in-house fitness and therapy, and a unique partnership with Baptist Health that offers our residents support from the most awarded healthcare system in South Florida.
Live Healthy by Baptist Health at Belmont Village Coral Gables offers a holistic approach to healthy living in a spa-like setting on our ground floor. With preventive care, quick access to Baptist Health practitioners, virtual wellness programs and telehealth options, health has never been closer to home.
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SEPTEMBER 2023 INDEPENDENT LIVING | ASSISTED LIVING | MEMORY CARE CO RA L GA BLES
THE RANCH-STYLE HOUSES OF CORAL GABLES
BY KARELIA MARTINEZ CARBONELL & BRUCE FITZGERALD PHOTOGRAPHY BY LAURA MULLANEY
Between Neo-Classical and Contemporary, there’s an overlooked South Florida house style that’s been gaining attention (and respect) as an exemplar of America’s optimistic Post-WWII suburban lifestyle. And it’s been hiding in plain sight in Coral Gables for over 75 years.
We’ve all driven, jogged, walked, or bicycled past these modest one-story houses in and around the City Beautiful. They blend seamlessly – indeed, almost imperceptibly – into the fabric of 21st century life, quietly co-existing in today’s residential environment: the Ranch House.
In the early 20th century, South Florida’s visionaries tapped into a wealth of architectural styles they readily adapted to suit the exigencies of our subtropical climate: Italian Renaissance, Mediterranean, American Colonial, Mission, and Arts & Crafts, followed in due course by Art Deco, Art Moderne, Mid-Century Modern... and Ranch House. The mix was always the message.
In the 1920s, George Merrick became the real estate impresario who inspired a supremely gifted team of creators in the development of thematic “villages” based on Italian, Chinese, French, Dutch South African, and Florida Pioneer design precedents (see story on page 62). No doubt attracted by the artistic possibilities inherent in Merrick’s groundbreaking master plan, our first “starchitects” truly let it rip, in the process embedding their names and accomplishments in the city’s emerging sociocultural identity. A brand was born.
Our design pantheon includes traditionalists like Phineas Paist, Denman Fink, Kiehnel & Elliott (designers of the Coral Gables Congregational Church and Coral Gables Elementary School), Schultze & Weaver (designers of The Biltmore Hotel), and John & Coulton Skinner. Then came the transitional modernists like H. George Fink, Russell Pancoast, Marion Manley (South Florida’s first registered female architect), William Merriam, and Alfred Browning Parker – among the many who made Coral Gables... well, more beautiful.
In the aftermath of WWII, a more simplistic design aesthetic took root across the country, finding its apotheosis in suburban developments where the desire to connect indoor and outdoor living spaces resulted in single-level, affordable homes with then-innovative features like sliding glass doors opening to spacious backyards. “America created a consumer product that people wanted to buy,” says Alan Hess, author of “The Ranch House.” Clifford Edward Clark, Jr. (author of “The American Home”) estimates that over a million such houses were built by the mid-1950s, all designed to fulfill the dreams and aspirations of a new generation of home-buyers.
Fast-forward to 2023, and it appears that the Coral Gables Ranch House is emerging from obscurity. Is history repeating itself? Or is the next wave of Coral Gables residents seeking a lifestyle that’s “informal yet gracious” – as Sunset Magazine described suburban living in 1946? Once again, the Ranch House seems to embody this ideal –reimagined, reinvigorated, and just waiting to be rediscovered. ■
FROM THE TOP: GRANADA BOULEVARD HOUSE DESIGNED IN 1951 BY ALFRED BROWNING PARKER
PALMARITO STREET HOUSE DESIGNED IN 1948 BY GERARD PITT
HISTORICALLY DESIGNATED BAYAMO AVENUE HOUSE DESIGNED IN 1954 BY ALFRED BROWNING PARKER
82 coralgablesmagazine.com HISTORIC PRESERVATION
HISTORICALLY DESIGNATED CANDIA AVENUE HOUSE DESIGNED IN 1950 BY H. GEORGE FINK
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A Walk About Town
A MONTHLY SERIES IN WHICH A FORMER MAYOR SEEKS THE SOUL OF THE CITY
BY DON SLESNICK
Recently, Mitch Kaplan (the proprieter of Books & Books) introduced me to a captivating book entitled “American Ramble – A Walk of Memory and Renewal,” describing Neil King’s cross-country hike from Washington, D.C. to New York City. In it, he describes the places and people that made this experience a unique look at a slice of America as it emerges into the mid-21st century (a modern-day Alexis de Tocqueville).
Not being a fan of cross-country backpacking, I found myself inspired to take a relaxed sojourn through our community to glean from our landmarks, culture, and citizens what makes Coral Gables “tick.”
All journeys begin with the first step, and what better place to begin than on the front steps of my home, “Gumbo Grove” on North Greenway Drive, which has been the Slesnick family homestead for the past 35 years since purchasing it from the son of former Mayor Bob Searle. The property contains a historic 1938 house (designed by the most prolific member of Merrick’s team of architects, George Fink) surrounded by fourteen Caribbean Gumbo Limbo trees planted by my wife Jeannett (obviously a devoted member of the Garden Club). And as many of our neighbors know, “historic” can be interpreted as “old, requiring constant upkeep and restoration!”
The environment in this sector of the city is akin to that of Central Park, full of golfers, cyclists, joggers, skaters, walkers, baby carriage pushers, dog walkers, and scooters – oh, let’s not forget motor vehicles. The backdrop features that embrace all this activity are the graceful palms and towering banyans along the fairways of Granada Golf Course, the oldest nine-hole links in Florida.
During almost any hour of any day, diverse elements of our South Florida population pass by our residence. No wonder – where else would they rather be but immersed in the welcoming environment of our City Beautiful. However, the complicated combination of so many different forms of leisure activity and transportation can prove to be dangerous, such as the time my daughter, Kathleen, was seriously injured by an errant hook shot off the first tee and the fatal accident when a cyclist and a jogger collided.
Jeannett and I were sitting in our front yard enjoying a magnum of “Red Schooner Voyage 10” purchased at the last Commu-
nity Foundation charity wine auction, in order to entice passers-by to stop and talk. In no time at all, we’d attracted some neighbors to mingle with us for some good wine, cheese, and conversation.
Joining our casual get-together were Gables citizens who, while dedicated to and active in the community, are people whose voices are not often heard above the roar of the crowd. The group swelled to include Gay Bondurant, docent coordinator at the Merrick House; Susi Davis, president of the Gables Good Government Committee; Pat Morris, director of Civic & Philanthropic Partnerships for the county mayor; Ramona Busot, member of the City’s Landmarks Advisory Board; Ginger Jochem, member of the Coral Gables Garden Club; and Russ Borden, third-generation president of his family’s business Tri-City Electric Company (founded locally as World War II ended). Another participant was Alexa, who graciously provided a background soundtrack of ‘70s soft rock.
Unsurprisingly, talk turned to our hometown and its future. Everyone agreed that we live in an unmatched South Florida garden spot. At the same time, however, there was unanimous concern expressed that the “charm” of Coral Gables is significantly challenged by the proliferation of taller and bulkier commercial buildings accompanied by the intrusion of traffic and congestion into residential neighborhoods. Finally, as the sun set over the Everglades, the table and chairs were folded and stored, ending a memorable moment amongst friends.
The magazine editors have declared that the allowable word count for this article has been exceeded, so hopefully you’ll join me next month as I “meander” to one of our public spaces to unearth some historical tidbits and visit some of our fellow residents. ■
Don Slesnick served as mayor of Coral Gables from 2001 to 2011.
84 coralgablesmagazine.com DON’S RAMBLES
ABOVE LEFT TO RIGHT: SUSI DAVIS, PRESIDENT OF THE GABLES GOOD GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE; GAY BONDURANT, DOCENT COORDINATOR AT THE MERRICK HOUSE; DON SLESNICK; ISA BORDEN (SEATED); ALDO BUSOT, CHAIR OF THE JOHN T. MACDONALD FOUNDATION; RUSS BORDEN, THIRD GENERATION PRESIDENT OF HIS FAMILY’S BUSINESS TRI-CITY ELECTRIC; PAT MORRIS, DIRECTOR OF CIVIC & PHILANTHROPIC PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE COUNTY MAYOR; RAMONA BUSOT, MEMBER OF THE CITY’S LANDMARKS ADVISORY BOARD.
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The 5th Anniversary
At the end of April, Coral Gables Magazine celebrated its 5th Anniversary at the Coral Gables Museum. Some 250 attended, with food by Zucca, spirits by Bacardi, and music by Mama Fuma. Sponsored by MG Developer, Amerant Bank, BHHS/EWM and Mosaicist.
1. Amy Donner, Mayda Cisneros, Alina Meledina
2. Gail Scott, Mark Trowbridge, Monica Del CarpioRaucci, Patrick O’Connell
3. Tere Bernace, Jenny Ducret, Fernando Pinto
4. Juan del Busto, Richard Roffman
5. Mary Snow, David Evensky, Michael Walsh
6. Anne-Laure de Roode, Leslie Lott, Michael T. Moore Sherry Adams, Alex Pagan
7. Doris and Alirio Torrealba
8. Pat San Pedro, Martha Pantin, José Valdés-Fauli
9. Patrick O’Connell, José Valdés-Fauli, Kirk Menendez, Nic Cabrera
10. The band, Mama Fuma
11. Tom Prescott, Mary Snow, JP Faber
12. Victoria Verdeja
13. Vanessa Sanchez, Kylie Wang, Gail Feldman
14. Sam Verdeja, David Lawrence
86 coralgablesmagazine.com SEEN
Coral Gables Dining Guide
TOP RESTAURANTS IN CORAL GABLES
The New Year is here, and what better way to celebrate than by dining in one of Coral Gables’ many fine dining establishments. What follows is our list of the best of the tried and true, and the best of the innovative and new. We dine at all locations anonymously, and we list only the places where we love to eat.
$ ............ Under $25
$$ .......... $25-$40
$$$ ........ $35-$75 $$$$ ...... $70-$100+
Prices are per person for appetizer and entrée, without tax, tip, or drinks. Prices are approximations.
Maybe it was the lure of pastries by world-renowned chef Antonio Bachour, but this airy, industrial-chic spot has become the new power breakfast place in town, with amazingly good eggs benedict and challah French toast. Also open for lunch and an early dinner, with great Greek salad and roast chicken breast. $$
2020 Salzedo St. 305.203.0552
Cebada Rooftop & Raw Bar
It’s hard to pigeonhole this new rooftop restaurant by Chef Jorge Ramos (fresh from his acclaimed Barley restaurant in Dadeland). He calls it “contemporary American with a Latin overlay,” which means roast bone marrow with salsa verde and baby back ribs with pimiento marmalade. A good raw bar, a great view. $$-$$$
124 Giralda Ave. 786.409.2287
We still don’t know how they can offer over 250 menu items, but there is something for everyone here, from Thai peanut lettuce wraps to chicken salad sandwiches on toasted white bread. Their cheesecake is still a calorie overload, but now balanced by their “SkinnyLicious” menu. Still, our favorite: Godiva chocolate cheesecake. $$
2418 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.529.0703
You may have to unhinge your jaw
to take in some of their burgers, but they are the best. Most of the burgers hover close to $20 because they’re made with quality Wagyu beef. The “Clutch” is the cheeseburger of the house, but our favorite is “My Boy Bleu.” They also specialize in craft beers brewed here in Miami. $$
146 Giralda Ave. 305.400.8242
Doc B’s Restaurant + Bar
Doc B’s Restaurant + Bar serves craveable American fare dishes made from scratch daily. Offering brunch, lunch, dinner, and a solid happy hour, signature dishes include the Wok Out Bowls, but our favorites are the candied bacon, the grilled artichokes, and the Southern fried chicken. $$
301 Miracle Mile. 786.864.1220
The Globe is a Gables icon, and one of the coolest places to eat in the city – assuming you like a smart, Euro-style bistro. Decorated with classic paintings (and globes over their old-world bar), the menu is mostly American dishes – salads, burgers, fish, steaks, etc. – perfected over the years. Best conch fritters. $$
377 Alhambra Cir. 305.445.3555
They meant it to be over the top, and they succeeded. To us, it feels a little like a bordello in New Orleans, circa 19th century. But this is now the singles hot spot, replacing Tarpon Bend. Good sushi counter, interesting sides, and Wagyu hamburgers, but happy hour is where they shine. $$$-$$$$
65 Miracle Mile. 786.747.4854
There are very few restaurants in the Gables where clients will wait in a line outside. Hillstone is one of them. A power lunch spot, a happy hour singles anchor, and a family restaurant at night, the food and service are consistently top notch,
with an elegant interior that is both comfortable and sophisticated at the same time. $$$
201 Miracle Mile. 305.529.0141
Lion & The Rambler
At Lion & the Rambler, everything is made from scratch, from the créme fraîche down to the finishing salts, which are extracted from Miami seawater and hand-delivered to the restaurant by a local fisherman. The inventive restaurant serves up a menu as much inspired by the three-Michelin-star Denmark restaurant Noma as the humble Cool Ranch Dorito. Try an infladita and see what we mean. $$-$$$ 804 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.603.7612
Located in the same building as Mamey (THēsis Hotel), Orno is Chef Niven Patel’s latest creation, focusing on “New American” cuisine with farm-to-table local produce. An eclectic menu lets Patel stretch his culinary imagination, using a wood-burning oven and a wood-burning grill. Be prepared for new and fascinating flavors. $$$ 1350 S. Dixie Hwy. (THēsis Hotel) 305.667.6766
The restaurant for healthy eaters who enjoy quality as well. The menu, changing four times a year with each season, is always full of inventive treatments for fresh veggies, soups, and salads. Their fish and meat dishes are great values, and the flatbread menu is a nice touch. It’s a chain, but we forgive them. $$
321 Miracle Mile. 305.442.8552
Tap 42 is big, noisy, and fun, with a huge island bar and lots of booths. Reliably good ribs, steaks, and burgers, plus shines in the sides (roasted Brussels sprouts with maple mustard, truffle mac & cheese with parmesan crust). Nice random Asian
dishes (grilled salmon Zen bowl, Asian coleslaw). $$-$$$
301 Giralda Ave. 786.391.1566
A cavernous space with huge screens for sports fans, oversized paintings, classic rock in the background, and large booths, all making for a comfortable space in which to pick and choose from an immense and reliable menu of American classics with Asian dishes interspersed. Literally something for everyone. $$ 320 San Lorenzo Ave. 305.447.9273
Why there are not more Chinese restaurants in the Gables remains a mystery, but Canton has been serving reliably good Cantonese-style food for decades. Feels like you are in New York’s Chinatown, with sweet and sour pork, chicken chop suey, barbecue spareribs, and wonton soup. Plus, the best lunch deals in town. $$
2614 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.448.3736
This off-Mile eatery has developed a cult following, with diners content to stand and wait just for the opportunity to eat Ichimi’s Japanese noodles and rice bowls. And the wait is worth it. Delicious, rich, and faraway flavors in dishes you can’t find just anywhere, in a raw, cool space. $-$$ 2330 Salzedo St. 305.960.7016
Located across the street from the Colonnade building, this tiny, bustling Japanese restaurant serves a great bento box – along with an impressive array of daily specials that are posted on the wall in chalk. Super popular lunch spot, for good reason. $$
159 Aragon Ave. 305.445.2584
Formerly Bangkok, Bangkok, this
88 coralgablesmagazine.com DINING
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Giralda Plaza mainstay – with plenty of outdoor tables – has reinvented itself as the new home for Thai street food. Think you know Thai food? Be prepared for new and delicious flavors. $$
157 Giralda Ave. 305.444.2397
KAO Sushi & Grill
Not sure of the vibe here – the décor inside feels oddly like you’re in Las Vegas – but the outside seating on the Mile is quite nice. Menu-wise, it has specialty rolls with an interesting Peruvian spin that includes a wide selection of ceviche, along with empanadas and chorizo. $$ 127 Miracle Mile. 786.864.1212
Malakor Thai Isaan
This eatery on Miracle Mile prides itself on delivering true, tasty Thai food. That means pork skewers with sticky rice, grilled fatty pork neck sliced and tossed with lime juice, or the Gang Aom, a Thai curry with fish sauce, dill, and herb paste. $$ 90 Miracle Mile 786.558.4862
Repeatedly voted the best Vietnamese restaurant in Miami by the readers of New Times, Miss Saigon serves the kind of vegetable-rich food that makes you feel light and clean afterwards. Excellent seafood choices, and any of their crispy rolls or dumplings make great starters. Their clear, hearty soups – what they call Pho – are the big winners here. $$ 148 Giralda Ave. 305.446.8006
Moon Thai & Japanese
Can’t decide between Japanese or Thai food? No problem. Here, you can have a Japanese house salad or miso soup as an appetizer and pad thai as an entrée. Truly the best of both worlds. Comfy booths inside and umbrella-covered outdoor tables. Across the street from UM’s campus. $-$$ 1118 S. Dixie Hwy. 305.668.9890
Hidden on a side street off Ponce, the last standing Indian restaurant in the Gables is small and humble (“namaste” means “I bow to you”), yet superb in its rendering of classic Indian dishes, from tandoris to biryanis. Our favorite is the mango curry chicken, followed by the chef’s special black pepper shrimp. $$ 221 Navarre Ave. 786.534.2161
A vast menu for rolls, along with selections of noodles, yakitori, katsu, tempura, teriyaki, etc. But they serve some of the best sushi and sashimi in town if raw fish is your thing. We also love their seating – a half dozen alcoves that line the walls and provide a sense of private space. $$
440 S Dixie Hwy. 305.665.7020
Delicious take on Japanese flavors served in parallel with Lebanese Mediterranean, Sawa offers seating inside or outside at Merrick Park. A vast selection of sushi rolls and tapas that range from chicken yakitori to octopus ceviche, along with super fresh Middle Eastern comfort food. World’s best lamb chops. Also has a doggy menu. $$$
360 San Lorenzo Ave. (Shops at Merrick Park) 305.447.6555
Just one block south of Sushi Maki, Sushi Sake is the latest contestant in the battle for sushi fans, with an upscale edge and a menu that stretches past sushi, sashimi, and handrolls to hibachi, katsu, and noodle dishes. A full bar gives them happy hour honors (weekdays 4 to 6 pm) with half-off drinks, appetizers, and Thai donuts. $$-$$$
202 Miracle Mile. 786.636.8125
Brought to you by Chef Pablo Zitzmann of No Name Chinese fame, this “pop up” restaurant off the huge lobby of the 396 Building is here to stay. The result of a year-long pandemic dive into dim sum by Zitzmann, the dumplings (dinner only), hand-rolled daily, are superb. Other menu items are highly inventive and flavorful. $$-$$$
396 Alhambra Cir. 786.409.6920
Secretly owned by Pascal’s on Ponce, this restaurant is half inside, half outside in the courtyard of the Shops. A typical French bistro with wonderful onion soup, fresh bread, and superb paté. Everything on the menu is fresh, French, and all you would expect from Pascal. Lots of little French touches. $$-$$$
320 San Lorenzo Ave. (Shops at Merrick Park) 786.536.9388
Chef Sucre Café
“A French restaurant bistro with a Latin Twist,” this inexpensive café serves breakfast all day – including great croque madams and croque monsieurs. Good sandwiches, lovely croissants, and a flourless chocolate cake to die for. $
475 Biltmore Way. 305.444.2025
This restaurant and bakery is a breakfast and lunch hotspot. Lunch is a steal with most sandwiches priced around $11 with a side salad and cornichons – those mini pickles
the French are famous for. Don’t forget the French pastries and desserts, ready to go. $-$$
248 Andalusia Ave. 305.461.3200
It looks like an all-American diner (which it once was), but this is pure French cooking in a small but comfy setting. Frenchie himself is usually there. Some items on the menu can get pricey (filet mignon, $34) but the onion soup ($9) and escargots ($11) are great values, and the croque monsieur ($14) for lunch is a meal unto itself. $$$
2618 Galiano St. 305.442.4554
Launched by a couple of friends with a track record in Paris, Gustave’s a light-filled, lovely addition to the local French cuisine scene. With a good selection of baked goods, this is a Paris-style café with good coffee and solid fare. Good to know where you can get a croque monsieur for lunch and boeuf bourguignon for dinner. $$-$$$
366 Miracle Mile. 305.640.5675
Pascal’s on Ponce
Elegant, quaint, and delicious, the home and culinary canvas of owner-chef Pascal Oudin, who brings authentic French cuisine to the heart of the city. Oudin excels in seafood, soufflés, and foie gras. Try the diver sea scallops and tomato tartin. $$$-$$$$
2611 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.444.2024
Small Italian spot with a half dozen tables and umbrellas outside. A wide selection of pastas, including pumpkin and lobster ravioli, and fagottini de pera – pasta stuffed with mascarpone and pears. Great homemade gnocchi. Nice service, reasonably priced, good house wines. $$ 94 Miracle Mile. 305.200.3216
Bugatti prides itself on its pasta –and for good reason, since the restaurant started as a pasta factory. The décor is simple and contemporary with lots of booths, and the service is crisp and superb. The dinner menu is straightforward, with pasta dishes mostly under $20 and entrees mostly under $30. And as many dessert listings (12) as pasta choices. $$ 2504 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.441.2545
A Gables icon, the late Nino Pernetti’s Italian restaurant is both a power lunch favorite for the business elite
and a cozy evening gathering place for families and couples. Abbracci is quiet and elegant, and the food is so consistently good that Pernetti had to publish his own cookbook. $$$ 318 Aragon Ave. 305.441.0700
Not a huge menu, but when it comes to risotto, pappardelle, fettuccini, and ravioli, they do it right. And we love their Wednesday and Thursday “family” dinners for $100 that serve four or five diners. Reservations required, always full. $$$
4019 Le Jeune Rd. 305.446.5659
Brought to you by Washington, D.C. chef Fabio Trabocchi, this is fine dining at its finest. From the place settings to the artwork to the innovative cuisine, Fiola offers an exquisite dining experience. Among their must-try dishes are the porcini mushroom soup, sea scallops ceviche, and the signature lobster ravioli. Beautiful presentations. $$$$ 1500 San Ignacio Ave. 305.912.2639
The ambiance is as elegant as it comes: the Biltmore’s famed fountain courtyard. You can sit under the stars, in a covered archway, or inside to enjoy classic Italian dishes. Fresh ingredients, from the salads to the pasta that is made daily. Excellent seafood, pastas cooked perfectly. One of the most romantic restaurants in the Gables. $$$
1200 Anastasia Ave. (Biltmore Hotel) 305.913.3200
They will tell you they serve “continental” fusion cuisine, and yes, there is a touch of French and Spanish cooking here. But the chicken florentine, ravioli aragosta, ravioli zucca, golden calamari, and veal ossobuco say otherwise. Well prepared dishes in an intimate setting make this a romantic choice. $$$-$$$$ 325 Alcazar Ave. 786.420.2910
Small, family run, with a fanatically loyal fan base, brilliant Italian comfort food. The long narrow set up with tile floors, wooden chairs, and tablecloths makes it feel like New York’s Little Italy. Their calamari, in any variation, is superb, as is the fettuccine with prosciutto, mushrooms, and green peas. $$$
264 Miracle Mile 786.452.0068
Local celebrity chef Giorgio Rapicavoli (Eating House) made Luca Osteria an overnight, reservations-only hit for dinner on Giralda Plaza.
His inventive take on classic Italian food is fresh and new; the Pasta al Limone and mortadella toast with fig balsamic are just the beginning. Great Italian cocktails. $$-$$$$
116 Giralda Ave. 305.381.5097
Chef Consiglio, along with partner-chef Gianluca Canna, makes a point of offering an array of dishes that include veal ossobuco, 10 varieties of pizza, fresh “al dente” pastas, and starters, including a wickedly delicious plate of truffle oil-laced prosciutto with baby artichokes ($16). But for us, the trip is worth it just for the branzino. $$
130 Miracle Mile. 786.391.1276
When they bring the pecorino cheese wheel to toss your pasta, you’re in heaven. Short of that, they do a fine job with the fritto misto, a mixture of calamari, shrimp, filet of sole, tiny artichokes, and zucchini, all lightly fried. Equally appetizing is the fresh burrata with heirloom tomatoes, a deceptively simple salad of tomato and burrata cheese. $$$ 2530 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 786.359.4275.
Tratorria-style Salumeria is now two years old with a loyal clientele, especially at lunchtime. Partly because the food and ambience is authentically Northern Italian and rustic. It may also be thanks to their inventive pastas and sandwiches of artisan cured meats, always fresh and flavorful. Those sliced salumi meats are buono! $$ 117 Miracle Mile. 305.640.5547
Surprisingly good prices in this cavernous restaurant in the Shops at Merrick Park, with lots of outdoor seating. Even the dinner menu serves pasta entrees for less than $15, and the amazingly extensive selection of meat and fish mostly runs in the mid to low twenties. Also – randomly enough – the best apple pie anywhere. $$
358 San Lorenzo Ave. (Shops at Merrick Park) 305.447.8144
Located at the elegant Hotel St. Michel, this is a star in the galaxy of Italian eateries in the Gables. Distinctly northern Italian, with recipes that chef Manuel Garcia developed in a career that included the legendary Casa Tua on Miami Beach. Modern Italian design, sophisticated, with great service. $$$-$$$$
162 Alcazar Ave. 786.580.3731
LATIN AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN
The food here is authentically Colombian. Try their pescado camaronero, a seafood showstopper of grilled white fish filet topped with garlic cream and large shrimp, served with coconut rice and fried plantains. Also good: the sancocho de costilla, a beef rib stew with corn on the cobb, yucca, potatoes, bananas, onions, and beef broth – a meal in itself. $$
205 Aragon Ave. 786.401.7189
Aromas del Peru
Yes, they serve a dozen types of ceviche here. But it’s the breadth of the menu that impresses, with traditional soups, grilled meats, wok stir fries, and signature dishes such as aji de gallina (shredded chicken in yellow pepper sauce) and seco de res (beef stewed in beer and cilantro, with vegetables). Good service, good prices, nice ambiance. $$
1930 Ponce de León Blvd. 305.476.5886
Bringing a taste of Peru to Giralda Plaza, Divino Ceviche is known, as you might guess, for its ceviche. From the Ceviche Tradicional to Ceviche de Mercado to Ceviche
Nikkei, there’s no shortage of the stuff. The restaurant also has notable non-ceviche dishes like octopus croquetas and a tasting of three different causas (layered potatoes with chiles, avocados, tuna, boiled eggs, onion). $$
160 Giralda Ave. 786.360.3775
Brought to you by the folks at nearby Sawa, Ecléctico is an open, airy, Latin-fusion restaurant that serves “light” and inventive variations on Latin small plates with a Mexican overlay – and a truly awesome selection of mezcal and tequila. A fun place for dinner. $$
320 San Lorenzo Ave. (Shops at Merrick Park) 786.615.5735
This large, popular Gables mainstay is true Argentine. A deep selection of Argentinian wines (which line several walls) go with beef slowly roasted over a quebracho wood fire, old school style. They have seafood, pasta, empanadas, and salads, but come here for the meat, a carnivore’s delight. $$$
394 Giralda Ave. 305.774.3599
Chef Niven Patel, who is fast gain-
ing a national reputation, hits it out of the park with this restaurant, heir to the creative Caribbean cuisine of Ortanique, but with its own unique and refreshing overlay of Polynesian, Thai, and Indian gastronomy. If your taste buds seek a new adventure, this is the place. $$$
1350 S. Dixie Hwy. (THēsis Hotel) 305.667.5611
Talavera Cocina Mexicana
High ceilings and ceramics make this a pleasant place to dine, but it’s the authentic fare that shines. The place for Mexicans homesick for cooking that’s not Tex-Mex. The chicken mole poblano is a winner at $20, and their huarache grill – masa flatbreads that are really haute tacos – are great at $17. $$
2299 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.444.2955
Calista Greek Seafood Taverna
Fun and bright inside, comfortable outside (seating on Giralda Plaza), they serve all the Greek classics, such as moussaka (ground lamb with a top layer of mashed potatoes), which they do exceptionally well, and spanakopita, a spinach pie with feta and phyllo dough. Our favorite is the keftedes, beef meatballs with tzatziki. $$ 150 Giralda Ave. 786.310.7660
Inside, the impression is Turkish, thanks to paintings of men wearing the Fez (made popular by the Ottoman Empire). Even the tea glasses, which sit in brass holders, feel Turkish. The food, however, is Pan-Middle Eastern, which means dishes like falafel with tahini sauce, lamb kababs, baba ghanoush, and hummus. $$-$$$
223 Valencia Ave. 305.476.9800
While the menu has a huge selection of well-crafted Japanese sushi and rolls (plus yakitori and dumplings), for us, the play here is their parallel Lebanese menu, with freshly made baba ganoush, falafel, tabouli, lamb lollipops, kefta, kibbe, kebabs, etc. Also, good burgers, salads, pasta, fish and duck, but who does baklava better? No one. $$-$$$
360 San Lorenzo Ave. (Shops at Merrick Park) 305.447.6555
A wonderfully inventive menu of Mediterranean cuisine, courtesy of Chef Christian, who plates beautiful dishes that combine the flavors of Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, and Egypt. Best pork tenderloin and
créme fraîche. Elegant seating under arches along Giralda. $$$-$$$$ 259 Giralda Ave. 786.483.8014
Gringo’s Oyster Bar
A great selection of oysters at this neighborhood favorite. And they change sources twice weekly – like malpeques from Canada, or wellfleets from Main, or steamboats from Washington state. Also, great lobster rolls, crab cakes, and conch ceviche. Specials include Lobster Tuesdays and a daily oyster happy hour from 3 to 6 pm when prices drop by half. $$ 1549 Sunset Dr. 305.284.9989
Some of the best – if not the best –seafood in the Gables with inventive fusions between Peruvian and Japanese cuisine. Their fish is caught daily in local waters and brought to your table for inspection. The whole fried fish is a marvel. Also, make sure to try the lobster tacos. $$$ 264 Giralda Ave. 305.640.8448
Sea Grill is a popular weekend destination for lovers of Mediterranean seafood. A large, brightly lit and futuristic space with lots of energy, it serves fish that is caught in the Aegean Sea and flown to the Gables. Their octopus, which takes two days to prepare, is simply the best. Lots of outdoor seating. $$$
4250 Salzedo St. (Shops at Merrick Park) 305.447.3990
Modern décor meets traditional Spanish dishes. Their house specialty is the roast suckling pig. If you want the whole pig ($230 for 4) you need to order four hours in advance. If it’s just you ($49), you’ll need to wait just 50 minutes. As for the rest: authentic Spanish cuisine with great seafood dishes, fantastic paella. $$$ 339 Miracle Mile. 786.502.4684
As valued for its cocktails as for its tapas, Bulla is also something Coral Gables needs – an informal, smart neighborhood hangout with a young, boisterous vibe. Great “small plates” and refreshing sangria. Yes, it is a national chain, but it still feels local. $$
2500 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.441.0107
La Taberna Giralda
Routinely rated among the top tapas places in South Florida, La Taberna
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What Am I Now?
As part of our ongoing series of contests for locals to identify particular objects “in plain sight” somewhere in the city, we now present this photo of the original 1925 offices of the Miami News. What business now occupies this space? Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. The first two winners will receive two tickets to a performance of their choice at the Miracle Theatre. The second two winners will receive two tickets to a performance of their choice at GableStage. The next 10 winners will receive two tickets to the Coral Gables Museum. Photo from the city archives.
Last month’s photo was of three busts outside the Peruvian Consulate at 1401 Ponce de Leon Blvd.
96 coralgablesmagazine.com CITY LIFE