Toto, I don’t think we’re in South Beach anymore.
Forget Oz… Izzy’s Fish & Oyster is bringing a taste of New England cuisine to the Miami culinary scene, infusing its SoFi location with a Cape Cod feel. Izzy’s is the brainchild of Jamie DeRosa, one of our favorite Miami chefs and the mastermind behind the dearly-departed Tongue & Cheek (R.I.P.) For those who have visited New England, the concept of Izzy’s is meant to evoke memories of sunny days, balmy nights, sandy toes, and bellies filled with fresh seafood. For those who haven’t, it’s meant to be an introduction to the classic flavors of New England cuisine. Either way, the driving passion is to create a memorable local seafood and beverage dining experience, serving traditional New England fare in a cool, fresh and hip South Beach setting.
Oysters, and lobster, and rosé! Oh my!
I recently visited Izzy’s for Sunday brunch. The thought of a New England-style brunch was very attractive to me for a first bite – and the call of bottomless rosé didn’t hurt either. With Azul’s former executive chef, William Crandall, at the helm, Izzy’s brunch menu (and dinner menu, for that matter) is compact, concise, and easy to understand.
I dove in head first with a half dozen fresh oysters – chef’s choice, of course. They oysters were slightly sweet with plenty of brine, which is just how I like them. They come served chilled with horseradish, lemon, lime, and a trio of champagne mignonette, yuzu-kosho ponzu, and cocktail sauces. It should also be noted that the oysters were perfectly shucked with no trace of shell; something that can rarely be said for Miami oysters.
Although classified as a side dish, the Lobster Poutine can easily be eaten as a main course. If you’re not looking to gorge yourself, the poutine provides all of the decadence and satisfaction you want in a brunch dish, just in a smaller serving size. With its large chunks of lobster meat sitting atop waffle fries and smothered with cheddar gravy and bacon, you can easily pair this dish with a few oysters and a cocktail before heading out to enjoy a nap on the beach.
Now if that’s not enough to satisfy you, Izzy’s actual brunch entrées are equally alluring. If you’re not into seafood, you can try the Egg White Frittata, Flat Iron Steak & Eggs, or Challah French Toast. But, also, why are you here?
For the seafood lovers, you’ll have to find a way to choose between Izzy’s Maine Lobster Roll, the Fried Oyster Rancheros, or the Maine Lobster Benedict. I went for two out of three, leaving out the lobster roll, based on my waiter’s recommendations. Also, the lobster roll is also featured on the dinner menu so I figured I’d try it another time.
The Fried Oyster Rancheros is an all-star of a dish. The fried oysters come accompanied by two fried eggs, black beans, pickled red onions, and a blue corn tortillas from Taquiza. Topped with a tangy salsa verde, the runny egg yolks mix with the rich black beans, crisp tortilla, and crunchy oyster to provide one the best brunch bites I’ve ever had.
What’s a brunch without a Benedict, right? At Izzy’s, the Maine Lobster Benedict is served with a traditional poached egg, lobster (obvi), and arugula, sitting on a beautifully toasted English muffins, and swimming in an Old Bay hollandaise sauce. As a true Marylander, anything with Old Bay is fine by me.
Finally, on the dessert front, Izzy’s has three options. The now-famous Classic Whoopie Pies, a Boston Creme Pie, and Grandma Celia’s Lemon Meringue Pie.
I’m a sucker for lemon desserts and there’s something about the tart flavors that complement a seafood feast so nicely. So needless to say, I went for the lemon meringue pie. As you can see, it came in a kind of deconstructed format, more like a mini tart than a pie. It also reminded me more of a variation on a key lime pie than a lemon meringue. Nevertheless, all of that is simple nitpicking because it was straight-up delicious.
Mitch’s take: Continuing with the Wizard of Oz theme, it seems that Chef DeRosa has found there’s no place like home. Well, more like no place like his wife’s home (she’s the one from New England). In any case, he’s managed to find an honesty and authenticity at Izzy’s that is welcome and refreshing. Especially on South Beach.
Standout dishes: It ain’t called Izzy’s Fish & Oyster for nothin’. Go ahead and order yourself a dozen raw and then follow them up up with the Fried Oysters Rancheros.