Ask us to describe Ariete and we’ll give you a few different answers. It’s a restaurant for people who want to eat food you won’t find anywhere else in Miami. It’s a casual neighborhood spot where you can sit at the bar and make a mess out of a really good burger. It’s a special occasion place where you can order a nice bottle of wine and wear clothes from that fancy part of your closet you never have a good excuse to visit.
And that’s the hard thing about Ariete. It’s a multiple-choice question where every answer is correct, but the best way to sum it up is to say it’s simply one of the best places to eat in Miami.
Of all the special things about this Coconut Grove restaurant, it’s the food that stands out the most - and that’s because the menu really bounces all over the place. There are very Miami things we see a lot, like croquetas, ceviche, and a frita, but there are also dishes that sound like they were selected by throwing darts at different pages of an old French cookbook.
You can start your meal with a beef tongue tartine or rabbit en croute. There’s venison done two ways (which we see in Miami restaurants less often than Pat Riley riding a manatee) and royal osetra caviar served with tater tots. And just when you’ve almost used up all your data Googling dishes from the menu, you see things like mamey soup, grouper, and oysters, and suddenly, you’re back in South Florida. Usually, a menu like this is one big red flag, but here you can order it all with confidence because Ariete somehow makes eating venison tartare, fried whole smelts, and a double cheeseburger in the same meal feel natural.
Maybe it’s because the space is so comfortable, with low ceilings, just the right number of tables, and the kind of laid-back atmosphere that can make a two-hour dinner feel like 30 minutes. The service is also consistently excellent. The courses are paced perfectly and servers describe the slightly more confusing dishes - like the unexpectedly great plantain gnocchi - with the gentle authority of a very good fourth-grade teacher explaining the concept of fractions.
Even though the food can be upscale enough to justify a violinist in the dining room, you won’t feel weird if you come here by yourself, sit at the bar, and hang out with a cheeseburger. You could also bring a date, or your parents, or both when the time comes to introduce them over some grilled oysters and a cocktail named after Ron Magill. Or come with your boss and jockey for that raise over a 36 oz ribeye. There’s no wrong answer for, “Why should you eat at Ariete?” So instead of wasting any more time, just pick a reason and come.
Oftentimes, it’s not smart to mess with the classics. But we’re all for innovation that involves smoked head cheese and kimchi aioli that tastes this good.
These crispy little smelts are like french fries in fish form and come with a charred-lime aioli that’s good enough to justify double-dipping.
These hot little oysters are one of the most popular plates at Ariete because they swap your typical mignonette for chive, lemon, and a large amount of bone marrow butter - which is like upgrading from a reliable sedan to a Ferrari rocketship that runs on bone marrow butter.
Fresh ceviche is usually always a safe bet, and it’s predictably great here. Their version comes in a healthy pool of sweet lychee leche de tigre, which is both fun to eat and say five times in a row.
The tongue in this dish comes sliced thin and placed on a thick, fluffy piece of toast with cheddar and some greens. It’s very good and might make you say something like, “This tongue is so tender,” which we hope is the first time you’ve ever said that out loud.
We have yet to find a form of plantain that’s not delicious when done right and now we can add “gnocchi” to that list. This dish really does look, taste, and feel like gnocchi. If we were a potato, we’d feel very threatened at how good this soft, bouncy plantain is doing our job.
This is an absolutely wonderful (and very thick) burger with two patties, American cheese, pickles, and secret sauce between a sesame seed bun. We know there’s a lot of fancy-sounding things on the menu, but this is just as tasty as anything here.
If you skipped a cheese plate, and are now panicking because you realize you might go an entire meal without cheese - relax, take a deep breath, and order this. There’s delicious stretchy cheese, but also tropical fruit and tupelo honey. It’s light enough to fool you into thinking you just had some sort of creamy salad.
If we have mixed feelings about one dish at Ariete, it’s this. But it’s not because the short rib is bad - this is an impressively tender slab of meat. It’s just incredibly rich and fatty. It’s like eating your way through a bowl of butter and cookie dough in meat form: good in the first bite, exhausting by the third. Order it if you have at least three people to share with, but if you try and take this down alone, you will fall into a decades-long meat coma and miss your grandchild’s graduation.
If you’re someone who worries about venison tasting gamey, know that won’t happen with this beautiful medium-rare cut. And if you’re someone who knows venison can be just as tasty as a great piece of beef when handled right, you probably already ordered this.
The crazy thing about Ariete’s flan isn’t necessarily that they use candy cap mushrooms in the custard, but that they’ve found a way to vastly improve a dessert we thought we’d tasted every conceivable version of.