We all know chef Giorgio Rapicavoli’s story by now: Home town kid, winner of Food Network’s Chopped, opened the enormously popular pop-up Eating House and then turned it into the enormously popular restaurant Eating House, and has now killed it again with Glass and Vine. For those of you who perhaps haven’t yet discovered how good Glass and Vine is, you should do so right away. I say this not just as routine encouragement to check out an excellent restaurant as soon as possible, but the open-air, garden-set Glass and Vine is located in Coconut Grove’s Peacock Park, and the weather this time of year is ideal for sitting outdoors.
The menu features 21 choices divided evenly into “Garden ($10 to $17),” “Sea” ($14 to $29) and “Land” ($11 to $32, with a bone-in ribeye for 2 at $55). The emphasis is on fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, but Rapicavoli’s creative impulses are woven through the food as well – if in more understated fashion than at Eating House.
The waiter explains that dishes get served as they are finished (this being a sharing-style concept), but in our case the plates were brought out one at a time – impeccably spaced apart, too. The wait staff here is on the ball.
The first dish, charred cauliflower with chickpeas, green tahini and dehydrated olives, set the tone for the evening: it was as delicious as a cauliflower treatment can be. Equally impressive was a house-made semolina pasta, bathed in green pea pesto and speckled with pistachios and toasted breadcrumbs -- the sort of dish you hope to run across in some small Southern Italian trattoria.
Blue crab hush puppies, seasoned with “homemade Old Bay,” kept the good times rolling, but while a trio of giant, succulent sea scallops were cooked just right, the brown butter-lemon-hazelnut-cauliflower sauce was overwrought; could have stopped after the brown butter-lemon.
Morsels of grilled sweetbreads, impeccably prepared, come interspersed with roasted tomatillo and a lime juice-heightened salsa verde. It was another exceptional dish, and all told, our dinner at Glass and Vine was as enjoyable as any we’ve had in quite some time.