By Mitchell Nover
If you watched Bravo’s Best New Restaurant a few years back, you might be surprised to hear that R House (2727 NW 2nd Ave, Miami) is still open after its relatively disastrous appearance. However, instead of folding under the pressure of the poor reality show showing, the restaurant took the time to take stock, learn from its mistakes, and focus on getting better. And get better they did. With a new menu that is more focused and concise in its food and drink offering, R House has become a very, very, very fine house… (with drag queens in the yard*).
Menu highlights: Serving an eclectic selection of Southern Italian plates and modern farm-to-table American dishes, R House is a unique casual fine dining restaurant and lounge with an integrated gallery right in the heart of Wynwood.
The restaurant’s new focus on Italian cuisine comes through loud and clear with menu highlights such as the Grass-fed Brisket and Short Rib Meatballs with heirloom tomato marinara, parmigiano reggiano, and garlic; Short Rib Ricotta Pizzetta with artisanal crispy pizza base, heirloom tomato marinara, parmigiano reggiano, shredded braised short rib, R House barbecue sauce, housemade ricotta cheese, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and shredded basil; Pan-seared Grouper Cheeks with warm beluga lentil-bacon salad, spinach, and gremolata; and Zeppole (aka Italian dough balls) with raspberries, chocolate chips, and powdered sugar.
Standout dishes: R House’s standouts really come through in its more innovative and artistic dishes. The first is the 3 Sauces appetizer, featuring Chef Rocco’s trio of house-made spreads (black olive tapenade, roasted red pepper-tomato coulis, ricotta), served alongside hot, freshly-baked focaccia. It’s a simple starter, but there’s something about it that is so welcoming and inviting, and it really set the tone for the meal to come.
Riding the focaccia train in a different direction is another small plate standout — the Gamberetti Marinara brings pan-seared tiger prawns, Chef Rocco’s heirloom tomato marinara, chili flakes, and lemon. The giant shrimp are cooked to perfection, but this dish is really all about the marinara. Tangy, sweet, and with a slight kick to it, you’ll be sopping up as much sauce as you can with the side of focaccia (and leftovers from the 3 Sauces, if that’s even possible).
Are we boozing? The food menu at R House wasn’t the only menu that got a makeover. The restaurant’s mixology program is now also personally curated by Chef Rocco and features a month-long infusion process during which its vodkas, bourbons, and other liquors are infused with tropical fruits and fresh herbs and spices. Craft cocktails include: the R Signature Infused Martini (fruit infused vodka paired with house-made sour mix and triple sec) and the Berry Infused Bourbon (berry infused Evan Williams bourbon, berry puree, lime juice).
Check this place out if you like: homey Italian comfort food with varying degrees of authenticity. By that, I mean Italian food can mean a lot of things from fresh pasta to red sauce American-style. R House, like Jack’s and Bocce, for example, falls somewhere within that spectrum, offering quality Italian cooking in its own individual style.
Mitch’s take: Thank the Miami restaurant gods that R House learned from its mistakes, turning what could have been an opportunity to accept defeat and fold into an incentive to refocus, reenergize, and revitalize itself. If you’d written off R House in the past, I recommend you hit the “undo” button and go give it another try. You won’t be disappointed.
*bonus points for anyone who gets these musical reference. 🙂