On the Menu: Wish

On the Menu: Wish

In a little more than ten years, Wish [3], a restaurant designed by Todd Oldham at The Hotel of South Beach, has been through four chefs and is now on its fifth.

Its opening chef, Gary Robins, went on to New York City and garnered critical acclaim there at The Biltmore Room. He was followed by Andrea Curto, who was named one of the country’s ten best new chefs by Food & Wine Magazine in 2000. When she left, she was replaced by E. Michael Reidt, who had been in the Food & Wine class of 2001. He groomed his own replacement, Michael Bloise, who last year was named one of Miami’s “rising stars” by StarChefs.com.

In July, Marco Ferraro joined the restaurant as its fifth executive chef, and now is putting his own stamp on the menu. Born in Calabria—the toe of the Italian boot—29-year-old Ferraro trained in France and then moved to New York, working at Jean Georges until 2004, when he moved to Jack’s La Jolla in San Diego and stayed there until the middle of 2008.

“My style is a lot more straightforward, and cleaner flavors, than what chefs were doing here in the past,” he says, noting that, although his cuisine is not French, his style is. He says he likes to highlight individual flavors, letting one ingredient speak for itself instead of adding additional components.

“Whatever you read on the menu, my goal is that you get it in the dish. So you’re like: ‘Wow, that really is cauliflower,’ not cauliflower with three different spices,” he says.

AT A GLANCE

Opened: December 1998Location: The Hotel of South BeachCapacity: 130Dinner covers: 145 at dinnerDinner check average: $75-$80Customer demographics: mixed, with a heavy local followingFood cost: 32 percentBest-selling appetizer: heirloom tomato salad with buffalo mozzarella, basil purée, pickled red onion and multigrain toastBest-selling entrée: pan-seared diver sea scallops with calabaza squash, Brussels sprouts, pancetta and maple syrupSlowest-selling appetizer: poached seafood—tiger shrimp, mussels, cockles, calamari, white corn polenta, tomato salsa and oreganoSlowest-selling entrée: The Vegetarian—a multicomponent dish composed at diners’ requestMenu maker: Marco FerraroOwners: Goldman Properties

That’s particularly true with the cauliflower that’s served with his swordfish, for which Ferraro departs from French technique.

“Normally you’re taught to cook in a lot of water, but anytime you blanch anything, some of the flavor gets lost in the water,” he says.

So instead he cooks the cauliflower in very little water, “so the water itself is concentrated with cauliflower essence.” Then the cooked cauliflower is put on a sheet tray in a low-temperature oven to let it dry a little and concentrate the flavor. Then he purées the vegetable, using some of the water it was cooked in.

The confit tomatoes that go with his snapper dish are slowly cooked in oil for about three hours.

“You really get that freshness from the tomatoes in there,” he says.

Other items on the menu include gazpacho, served tableside over diced watermelon, cucumber, basil oil and basil chiffonade. Hamachi sashimi comes with seasonal white asparagus and radish along with cilantro and jalapeño salsa.

Ferraro says his least popular menu items at the moment are the foie gras—pan-seared and served with blackberry compote, wasabi, white chocolate and “almond crumbs”—his poached seafood served in a mason jar, and his vegetarian dish, created to meet the dietary needs and tastes of whomever orders it.

But it really depends on who’s eating in the restaurant that evening.

“Sometimes they’re from Europe; sometimes they’re from the West Coast. We have locals, but a very mixed crowd of locals,” he says. “So I try to have a little bit of something for everyone.”

Entrées
Appetizers
WISH SALAD Endive, Radish, Cucumber, Cashews, Ginger-Lime Dressing 10
HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil Purée, Pickled Red Onion, Multigrain Toast 16
WATERCRESS SALAD Blue Cheese, Poached Pear, Candied Walnuts, Red Wine Vinaigrette 12
HEIRLOOM TOMATO GAZPACHO Tomato, Watermelon, Cucumber, Basil 14
POACHED SEAFOOD Tiger Shrimp, Mussels, Cockles, Calamari, White Corn Polenta, Tomato Salsa, Oregano 21
HAMACHI SASHIMI White Asparagus, Cilantro, Jalapeño Salsa, Radish Salad 19
MAINE LOBSTER RAVIOLI Green Peas, Pickled Radish, CardamomYuzu Foam 21
PAN-SEARED FOIE GRAS Blackberry Compote, Wasabi, White Chocolate, Almond Crumbs 21
GRILLED SKIRT STEAK Charred Bean Salad, Tomato, Avocado, Chile Dressing 16
BEEF CARPACCIO Mixed Olives, Arugula, Parmesan, Lemon Crème, Tempura Crumbs 16
LOCAL STEAMED SNAPPER Squash, Artichoke, Tomato, Basil 36
PAN SEARED DIVER SCALLOPS Calabaza Squash, Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta, Maple Syrup 38
PAN-SEARED WILD SALMON Meyer Lemon Risotto, Parmesan, Steamed Mixed Mushrooms 32
GRILLED SWORDFISH Cauliflower, Bok Choy, Cremini Mushrooms 36
CRISPY SKINNED CHICKEN Root Vegetables, Thai Basil, Pineapple-Cardamom Sauce 26
GRILLED BEEF TENDERLOIN Braised Short Rib, Carrot Confit, Celery Root, Fresno Chile, Cilantro 44
PAN SEARED PRIME NEW YORK STEAK Red Bliss Potato, Cipollini Onion, Blue Cheese, Radicchio, Red Wine Syrup 49
THE VEGETARIAN AMulticomponent Entrée Custom-Crafted as you WISH 24