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Om Garden, Casale Take Their Critical Hits

Victoria Pesce Elliott clicks her heels and says "There's no place like Om for fresh food." The former Roads area diner is tough to find and tough to find a seat in, but the "health-food-store chic" decorated space "may be a bit divey, but the food is fresh and vibrant." That said,Elliott gives the place three stars thanks to a hearty red lentil puree and the nori rolls. "One of the best is the so-called rainbow roll combining dried figs, sweet mango, shredded carrot and avocado in a sushi-like roll with a swath of creamy cashew pate and a zippy carrot-ginger dipping sauce." Elliott also sings the praises of the grain-based Happy Cow burger. But "don't expect a finely tuned restaurant experience" just yet. In the meantime, says Elliott, "Give me some raw and vegan dishes every so often and I feel like chanting. Om." [Miami Herald]

Lee Klein thinks the world's best pizza is found in a dusty mountain town in central Sardinia, not necessarily in South Beach's burgeoning Purdy Ave. warehouse district. But that doesn't mean he hates Casale. "Pizza is not what makes Casale a great place to eat. It doesn't even look like a pizzeria," Klein says. "There's plenty more going on gastronomically." Besides the wood burning pizzas, a "plethora of fresh vegetable offerings sets Casale apart from many other eateries." The menu's 45 meatless items impressed him. "Not all of the food is vegetarian," he says, "But all vegetarians should consider eating here." Klein hones in on sharp service, simplicity, freshness and meticulous execution," however, he writes, "If only [owner] Pietro can re-create that pizza from Oliena." [Miami New Times]

Om Garden

379 SW 15th Rd., Miami, FL