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Lingering Feelings on Mai Tardi; The Urbanite Bistro: Location, Location, Location!

Photo: Greg Clark, GC VisualsLee Klein likes lingering at Mai Tardi in the old Brosia space, "with the idea. . . being the stort of place where patrons tarry for a while." That tarrying, however, is mostly done outside, which is swell, except for one thing. "The only downside to the ambience is the maddening Miami restaurant soundtrack of thumping club beats. As a diner, you probably won't get up and dance, but the turbulent tunes might inspire your digestive tract to do the jitterbug." On a positive note, Klein compares the place to Joey's in Wynwood, "meaning a casual menu of brick-oven pizzas, homemade pastas, and a few rustic Italian meat, poultry, and fish entrées." Prices, he says, are "even friendlier" than those at Tardi's modest Design District competitors. In fact, Tardi's "pizza rates with the rest of the best in town." Klein praised the pasta, too, but thought the grouper "gratified in basic fashion crown of sautéed onions and fried leeks, a pool of thin Cabernet sauce, and soft if charmless mashed potatoes. It needed another component to lend a salty spark." Double lamb chops delivered on moistness, but failed elsewhere, "with its flabby, colorless exterior, the meat might as well have been poached in water." Despite that and with help from a "well-valued, easily navigated wine list with strong Italian accent [that]offers deals you can't refuse," Klein suggests you "linger as long as you'd like . . .at the relaxed and affordable Mai Tardi, time is not of the essence." [Miami New Times]

Victoria Pesce Elliott thinks The Urbanite Bistro may be ahead of its time. The "artsy and affordable newcomer," she says, "would be a real boon to the so-called Media and Entertainment District if only there were an actual neighborhood nearby." And although VPE found the restaurant fine, she thinks "the earnest spot struggles to find its audience." What it doesn't need is seasoning, though, "as chef-operator Frank Imbarlina, a Northeast veteran, tends to over-, not under-season." Self described "heat seeking momma" VPE says she "couldn't eat more than a few [mussells in red sauce loaded with chiles] without frying her taste buds." Those taste buds favored the green curry soup and pad Thai, the "kitschy but cute shrimp corn dogs," and "hot, flaky mushroom empanadas," but found the alligator egg rolls "greasy and uninspired." Burgers were juicy, bone-in-rib-eye with balsamic glaze "a bit sweet but juicy," amd duck pizza was "strangely crunchy." Two and a half stars later, the critic thinks that "with enough support, this ambitious and eclectic pioneer might help nudge a neighborhood into being."[Miami Herald]