Even though the days when black tie, haute jewelry and frequent Frank Sinatra sightings are gone, the glitzy quality infused in Morris Lapidus’ signature style can still be appreciated when one crosses the glass doors of his landmark design. The Fontainebleau Hotel, built in 1953, continues to reflect the glamour of Miami Beach’s past in the details that were carefully kept during the 2008 renovations such as the original bow tie stamped marble floor and the perforated outer walls of the sickle-shaped original building now called the Chalet Tower to which Miami architect John Nichols added two residential towers visible from the raised oceanfront walkway that overlooks the property.
Down the marble stairs at the Chateau Tower’s lobby where the dramatic chandeliers by internationally recognized Chinese dissident artist AiWeiWei reign one finds a welcome contrast to the other more formal dining spaces. Pizza and Burger by Michael Mina, a concept inspired in the chef’s own backyard kitchen by his two sons love for each item. It debuted during the summer as a pop up but its consistent popularity made it a permanent fixture among the property’s restaurants. Helming the family style fun eatery is Chef de Cuisine Timothy Elmore who comes to Pizza and Burger from Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak at the Turnberry Isle Resort in Aventura. He is not only gracious but reflects great pride in the delectable made from scratch menu he has put together with farm-fresh products. It is comprised of tried and true favorites: a variety of pizzas and burgers with salads and side dishes loved by most.
Among the tempting appetizers I was sent to gustatory heaven with The Meatball ($12) on a thick marinara sauce and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; the sumptuous blue crab stuffing filling The Mushrooms ($14) was topped with garlic butter and parmesan breadcrumbs. My pizza of choice The Parmigiano ($21) combines perfectly fried chunks of eggplant and halved meatballs balanced with an unforgettable Sunday sauce, basil and whole milk mozzarella. Although The MM74 $22) is quite a delicious dry-aged steak burger with double-smoked bacon, American cheese sauce, lettuce and secret sauce when it comes to burgers the winner for me was The Cuban Frita ($22): the perfect balance of beef, chorizo and smoked paprika with an unexpected touch of aïoli sauce and incredibly crispy potato wisps sent me into a journey back to one my childhood myths, not letting down one bit all the sublimation one injects into them. The yummy coconut cream frosting made the Carrot Cake (11) the perfect end. Add to it the charming, attentive and well-informed service provided by Marvin.
Put together it means repeat business for this Miami Beach secluded spot: a perfect after work refuge where to enjoy excellent drinks from an endless selection of locally beer brewers, daily wine specials as well as new versions of mixed cocktails such as Hair Trigger ($13) a sexy combination of Bulleit Bourbon, Drambuie, mint, ginger beer served over ice in a copper mug.
Pizza and Burger is also a place where the kids feel quite welcome and comfortable with different games to keep busy. The music is easy enough that you can hold a conversation without straining your vocal chords.
Pizza & Burger by Michael Mina
Mon. – Thurs. / 5 pm – late
Fri. – Sun. | 12 pm – late
Social hour: daily 5 – 7
4441 Collins Avenue Miami Beach
Miami, FL 33140