By Elena Vivas, Expert Columnist
Calle Ocho, aka Little Havana is a must-see area in Miami. It's known for its cultural flavor and it’s rich in Latin American heritage.
The clanking of tiles and bongos can be heard from Domino Park, all the while nearby tourists can be found with hand-muddled mojitos in their grip.
The unique neighborhood is also the home to an array of family-owned food markets, local artwork and the best Cuban bread under the sun.
Although the neighborhood is flourishing, a shift is broadening the gap between tourist trap and local hang out. Additions like the Union Beer Store, Lung Yai Thai Tapas and Bar Nancy have introduced new flavors without stripping the surroundings of its moxie.
The street’s latest addition is Ella’s Oyster Bar. The seafood eatery offers all the heartiness of north-eastern classics fused with all of the zest and taste of Latin cuisine.
How the Concept was Started
Chefs Jordan Marano and Christian Poltcyzk met 20 years ago while working for the China Grill Group. This is when the duo came up with the idea to create a reinvented oyster bar, which would be the perfect median between a pretentious white tablecloth restaurant and a dive bar seafood shack.
Now Ella’s Oyster Bar is open for business in Miami. The open-format style allows diners to sit at the bar, amused from start to finish as their dozen of oysters are presented in plain view.
The broad selection of oysters are only the precursor to the restaurant’s well-rounded menu. Those who want a taste of Miami should order the crab croquettes. These crunchy, cylindrical, stuffed pillows of crab rest upon an Old Bay hollandaise and are topped with pico de gallo.
Continue the fun with scallops and truffled corn! These delicate gems were perfectly tender.
As for your culinary climax, the Little Havana Clambake for Two has all the luscious filth one expects from a seafood pot. The cracking of shells and vacuum slurps can be heard around the dining table as you sort through a unique pairing of cockles and sausage, all bathed in chorizo jus. This is partnered with a side of Ella’s fries, thick cut pillars crested with deep fried herbs and served with mojo ketchup.
If you can’t resist dessert, finish your evening with thick, guava and cheese ice cream sandwiches crafted between two locally sourced pastelito shells.
True gastronomes, who revel in the brine of an unadulterated oyster should cozy up at the bar for their happy hour for $1.25 shells. Their selection is thorough, rotating based on seasonal changes and stock– ensuring the pureness of their product.
Co-owner Christian will likely greet you at the door, from there grab a bar stool along with a mixed order of bivalves (either East or West coast) and enjoy people watching from their transparent storefront.
Ella’s Oyster Bar is exemplary and honors its surroundings while simultaneously filling the local void for fresh concepts. It is a destination for both tourists and natives alike.