Dont's Pass On Marino's Restaurant
Written By Cynthia Lechan-Goodman
Located on a convenient outside corner of the Miami Sunset Shops, Dan Marino’s is the place to go to find an anytime dining delight. Befitting Dan Marino, American comfort food is served here, but each dish has its superlative, extra points.
Don’t let the name fool you. This is not your typical Sports Bar. There are no wings, no pitchers, or scantily clad wait staff. Geared to focus on you, not a tizzy of sports hum, the seating is supportive and easy, in a room of burnished copper, silver, and wood like a low sunset glow. Dining tables are nicely spaced, or ample booths give you your own arena to huddle, and service is on the ball to bring you what you want.
Indeed, Dan Marino’s welcomes you to a menu of your favorites, no fumbles here, just a Hall of Fame of appetite pleasures for gals and guys alike. It’s all here, the sweet, the savory, the meaty, the light and fluffy, such as the crab cakes, the undeniably pleasant squishiness of the garlic smashed potatoes, the melting mouthful juiciness and savory taste of the mile-high Marino meatloaf with a mushroom Merlot sauce. “Mmmmmm”—sighing, satisfying, excellence of the filets and steaks, and the indulgent mahi-mahi with its golden toasted pistachio crust and vanilla rum sauce entices everyone to dunk piece after piece of that freshly caught sea treasure in to it.
Dan Marino’s prides itself on the quality of their meat. From Kobe burgers, to the baby back ribs that fall off the bone and drip off the fingertips, through steaks, and meat loaf, making lunch time or dinner time an occasion at unexpected prices.
Steven Lopez, chef of three years with a huge history of high-end experience, is as particular as they come to hand select the highest quality, most tender, flavorful beef possible, ASDA Prime Cut Beef. Steve personally trains and instructs his staff on butchering their meat.
When it comes to fish, again, Steve is the expert. An avid fisherman, he knows firsthand, about fresh fish. He buys it daily, explaining that signs to look for are firm flesh (but not stiff– it should bounce), clear eyes, deep red gills. Any fish at Dan Marino’s can turn a proclaimed regular meat eater into a fish lover.
Mickey Gonzalez, General Manager for three years, reveals that 98% of their food items are prepared in-house, chemical and additive free. Their attention to providing selections of highest quality, and taste means diners from ages 25-75 enjoy “first down” deliciousness on every “play.” Meals at Dan Marino’s are indulgent. Steve and Mickey both pledge that despite economic cutbacks, they have continued with their tradition of ampleness and quality. “I’d rather even go a little bigger with things so that people will say ‘Wow, this is big!’, ” says Steve. Mickey adds, “People come back if they love and enjoy the food, and most of our clientele are regulars!”
For starters, choose the crab cakes or the pinkest of planked tuna, crusted with black and white sesame seeds. Accompany with a glass of their recommended Rodney Strong Pinot Grigio, or an ice cold particularly flavorful, hoppy New Castle Brown Ale. The tuna is like a smooth fresh sail ride, and no skinny skimpiness here. The crab cake is so cloudlike, you don’t feel the fork slipping into it…but it melts in your mouth with savory creaminess. It’s caper dill sauce is a great “special teams” addition to this treat.
Now for the steak—oh, the filet, the filet…..Dan Marino’s has it all over higher priced steak houses for a fraction of the cost. This is meat that you breathe in with each bite, chew with relish, and savor to the end. The thin and perfect asparagus side was a delightful earthy verdant crunch, a kind of palate cleaner before digging in for more rich garlic smashed potatoes, marvelous juicy meatloaf, mahi mahi or steak.
Not on the menu? They will try to make it for you. Special diets or allergies? Steve complies with choices of no wheat or gluten, nuts, fats, and special preparations. And all of this attention can be had with reasonable pricing—a wonderful lunch for two for $20.
For those who prefer lighter selections there are many choices, such as a delectable and colorful chop salad, soup and salad combos, and a must try it to believe it salmon salad featuring cashew crusted salmon over spinach, strawberries, blue cheese crumbles, and bacon bits, tossed in chipotle lime vinaigrette.
Finish off with The Hall of Famer Almond Basket. This piece de resistance was delivered as a table centerpiece—a brickled warm, buttery almond stand up cornucopia, almost like a garden wall, nestling vibrant berries like flowers, that cover a perfect tart and sweet pinkalishious raspberry sorbet, all still topping and swathed with delectable whipped cream.
“Do you use many doggy bags?” I inquired, to which Mickey and Steve shook their heads. “No, almost never, plates come back totally clean!” This, even with their humongous portions! I managed to portion a treasured piece of everything aside for my own take home experience, in case I don’t have the chance to get back soon enough.
It’s no wonder both Mickey and Steve say much of their clientele are regulars, with portions that match the style and generosity of its namesake. Dan Marino’s, the American comfort place, will keep you coming back for more. – DUO