49 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
Sat, Sun 11:30am - 3pm
Sun 5:30pm - 11pm
Mon - Thur 4pm - 11pm
Fri 4pm - 12am
Sat 5:30pm - 12am
Chef Justin Smillie and Stephen Starr Team Up at Upland MiamiThere are certain restaurants that you know are going to be something special. I knew Upland Miami was going to be a memorable meal for many reasons. The first being that Upland is the brainchild of Chef Justin Smillie and famed restaurateur Stephen Starr. Both of which have impressive resumes and reputations in South Florida, California, New York and beyond, but I haven't tried any of it. I came in blind, but the second reason I knew that it'd be great is because I peaked at eatery's Instagram account beforehand. I wanted to try it all.
Upland opened in late 2016 in Miami Beach's "South of Fifth" neighborhood. I entered the restaurant with a friend on a weeknight after a long workday. We arrived with an appetite.
The menu is organized into raw food items followed by pizzas and a list of courses: one, two and three. There's also a selection of vegetable dishes. We started with the wahoo crudo served with fresh yuzu and aji dulce chili. it was all I wanted out of a dish of raw seafood due to the tang of the citrus topping and small spice from the chile. We finished it in seconds.
Although I would have been down for pizza, we chose to skip that course and go for pasta, which is my favorite food in the world. We chose a dish that was flavorful and simple. The Bucatini Cacio e Pepe with Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper was perfection in so many ways. The fresh, homemade pasta mixed with simple seasonings truly illustrates that you don't need a lot of bells and whistles to make a great tasting dish.
We finished the pasta course and sipped red wine as we admired the eatery. The space is open with an active and open kitchen behind us, while the bar is at our side. The bartender chatted his patrons while shaking negronis and old fashions. The walls adorned with shelves of canned vegetables and jars. The lighting is dim enough to feel intimate, although the space is incredibly social.
The next course, seafood. We chose the Upland Cioppino, a signature dish. The combination of clams, red shrimp, mussels, market fish, jumbo lump crab and gochujang was exquisite. We were filling up, but this dish was too good to not sample. As steam flew from my spoon, I slurped the salty tomato sauce with floating chunks of delicious shellfish. Be sure to have a little bread on hand for the last few bits.
As if we weren't full, we ordered dessert since we saw a beautiful white cake of mystery served to the table next to us. It was a pecan pie cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. Let me just say that this was the grand finale after an amazing meal. could have licked the plate clean. I hope Upland NYC is as good as Upland Miami. I'll definitely return for pizza very soon.