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Fabio Viviani on What's Coming at Siena Tavern

It seems like it's been forever since Top Chef hunk Fabio Viviani announced plans for his Siena Tavern expansion to Miami, but the restaurant is almost ready to go. The chef tells us he plans to put staff through an intense two months of training before opening up, making sure everything runs smoothly once Siena Tavern does begin service. As for what's coming, think an experience very similar to that of Siena Tavern in Chicago, minus the coat rack, with brighter colors and lighter dishes, but more on this below. Here's everything Viviani had to share:

Why did you choose Miami for the Siena Tavern expansion?
Well, you know, I think the market changed to the point where now there are 12 months of business that we're able to do. The scary part about 10 years ago is that in Miami all the people from different cultures, different cities, came here in high season but then the area was empty in the low season, and it was a bit scary for such a commitment. And that has changed a lot. The community has developed, especially the South Beach one. There is a lot of work, a lot of remodeling, a lot of new people coming in town and deciding to live within a mile of where we'll be opening. So, it's a time in history to be here.

How will the Miami outpost offerings differ from those in Chicago?
If you think about it, Chicago, two months ago, was 20 below. Of course, the eating habits, the going out habits and every other habit associated with the change of climate define the menu, the décor. Our Miami spot is not going to have a very big coat check. The leather boots are not going to be warm leather, they'll be something refreshing. There's a lot of components that change when you change climate from Chicago to Miami and so is the menu and so is the drink list. Everything has to be very well balanced. You can't serve to much alcohol in a cocktail in Miami or people are going to drink two and be out of it. Chicago is colder, you can hold a little bit more spirit. These differences are boring to explain, but once you nail them down they make what the experience is going to be.

What are you most excited about for the new restaurant?
Just the scene. We always opened very glamorous restaurants, but we do it in a way that we are very affordable and comfortable for the actual community. While we are very happy to cater and supply the community of people that is here just for the fun and the high season, we are very gearing toward supplying the need of dining entertainment for who lives in Miami and wants to go out three times a week and not spend $150 per person all the time.

Are there any Miami specific dishes you are working on?
We're going to have a phenomenal selection of crudos and a phenomenal selection of pizzas. The pizza dough done in Miami is very different from the pizza dough you do in the rest of the country because there is a lot of humidity and if you don't balance the chemistry behind it, it's not going to come out right. That's why they have a hard time with pizzas in Miami, because of the humidity they all feel like very bready, not crunchy and chewy like a pizza should be.

What are some of your favorite things on the menu so far?
We haven't decided the full menu yet, I have to be honest with you. We're almost four months out. What we're trying to do, the way that we approach the menu, is to start by eating 100 dishes, our 100 favorite, and by an elimination process, we're going to nail down the 30-40 dishes that everyone will get to experience once the restaurant opens.

Anything so far that you're really excited about?
The light version of our classic fresh pasta is amazing. We're going to do a lot of crudos. The crudos experience will be very unique with a very different take on crudo, but yet very familiar with the flavors that Miami likes. We're trying to source all the ingredients that we possibly can within 100-150 miles from the community.

Who's on board so far, anyone we know?
Yes, there are a couple of people that are known, but we're not going to disclose them for a while because we want to make sure that they are the ones. We're going through some training process now and a let's see what we can do together kind of deal and as soon as we are ready, we will let people know.

Tell me a little bit about the design of the restaurant.
The décor is very similar to our Chicago restaurant; just take that décor in a Miami context. It's a little bit less wood, a little bit less brown, brighter color, a bit more steel. Still very refined, yet very rustic.

What's been holding back the opening?
Just the overall process. We were shooting for July and we'll probably end up opening in September. Although the space might be ready, we are going to do over two months of training to make sure the service and food will be nothing less than stellar.

Is there an official opening date?
There is an opening forecast, which is the last week of September.
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Siena Tavern

404 Washington Avenue, Miami, FL

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