Turning Tables: The Restaurant at Meadowood Pops Up at Ojai Valley Inn

After the Restaurant at Meadowood was largely destroyed in the September 2020 California wildfires, the Wine Spectator Grand Award winner is popping up at Ojai Valley Inn for a two-month culinary residency. Chef Christopher Kostow and his team will host a dinner series March 3 through April 28 at the resort in Ojai, Calif., which is home to Best of Award of Excellence winner Olivella.

“While planned well before the Glass fire that devastated the Restaurant at Meadowood, our time in Ojai will serve as an opportunity for the team to continue to cook and work together,” Kostow said in a statement shared with Wine Spectator. Though the team is planning to reopen the restaurant in some capacity, it’s unclear when that will happen, so the pop-up is the focus for now. “We look forward to crafting menus that encompass the divergent terroir of the valleys of Napa and Ojai, and to sharing our work with a new audience.»

Chef Christopher Kostow adds finishing touches to a set of dishes

At his Napa restaurant’s pop-up at Ojai Valley Inn, chef Christopher Kostow will serve dishes that draw inspiration from both California cities. (Courtesy of Ojai Valley Inn)

At $475 per person, each dinner includes six courses by Kostow and his chef de cuisine, Jacqueline Dasha. The dishes feature produce sourced from Meadwood’s surviving farm space, supplemented by other farms in Napa and Ojai. Menu items will change in April, but the opening March menu includes a spiny lobster “a la presse” with pumpkin-preserved tomato and rice koji cream with puffed wild rice. The experience includes wine pairings chosen by Meadowood beverage director Micah Clark. Guests will have the option to purchase additional bottles from Olivella’s expansive 900-label wine list, which is strongest in selections from California, France and Italy.

Ojai Valley Inn is also in the midst of a partnership with chef Nancy Silverton, the inn’s official culinary ambassador, offering take-out options from her Pizzeria Mozza concept in Los Angeles.—Taylor McBride

Grand Award–Winning Altamarea Group Opens Osteria Morini in Miami

Exterior shot of Osteria Morini’s waterfront space

Osteria Morini’s latest location in Miami occupies the ground floor of a Kimpton hotel that just opened in March 2020. (Michael Pissari)

Osteria Morini opened in Miami’s Kimpton Palomar South Beach hotel earlier this month. It’s the first Magic City restaurant from Altamarea Group, which includes New York Grand Award winner Ai Fiori and Best of Award of Excellence winner Marea. There are four other Osteria Morini locations across New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. “Miami has been on [our] horizon for some time,” Altamarea corporate wine and beverage director Hristo Zisovski told Wine Spectator via email, calling Morini a “year-round neighborhood restaurant.”

Beverage manager Shanna-Marie Beattie is overseeing the wine program, which offers 50 labels with an emphasis on Italy. “The wine list centers [on] sustainable wines from small, family-operated wineries who prioritize environmental protection [and] social responsibility,” Zisovski said, noting that Morini’s team aims to grow the wine list to about 100 selections. This list is strong in Lambruscos, Italian whites, Barolos, Barbarescos, Brunellos and super Tuscans from top estates like Ornellaia. There are also reds from lesser-known appellations like Valtellina and Cerasuolo di Vittoria.

Julio Cesar Ramos serves as the restaurant’s chef de cuisine with the support of Altamarea corporate executive chef Bill Dorrler, who helped open Morini’s other locations. The menu lists signature Morini dishes as well as seasonal and local specialties. This includes smaller bites like stone crab, ricotta gnocchi and Roman-style artichokes, as well as heartier items like pistachio-crusted dry-aged duck breast, squid-ink pasta, cured meats and several grilled fish options.

Diners can enjoy these dishes in Morini’s dining room or on its terrace overlooking the Collins Canal. “The atmosphere is warm, convivial and fun,” Zisovski said. “The design is intrinsically Miami-meets–New York feel that combines the rustic design of an Italian farmhouse with clean lines and floor-to-ceiling windows.”—Collin Dreizen

Prolific New York Group Debuts Dagon on the Upper West Side

Interior dining-room shot with view of open kitchen at Dagon

Chef Driven’s Aviram Turgeman says Dagon is ready to “cater to any crowd,” from locals to tourists, whenever they’re ready to return to restaurants. (Courtesy of Dagon)

Chef Driven group, which owns eight Restaurant Award winners including Grand Award winner Nice Matin, added another New York eatery to its portfolio this month. Dagon opened Feb. 14 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with an Israeli-leaning Mediterranean menu and a well-rounded wine list. “Opening a restaurant during a pandemic is a tremendous challenge, but also a reassurance that our group is here to stay for the long haul,” said Aviram Turgeman, the group’s beverage director.

He’s overseeing the 100-label wine program, which is focused on picks from the Mediterranean region, with strong representation from his home country of Israel. Greece, Lebanon, Morocco and other nearby countries are also represented, as are classic regions in the U.S., France and Italy. The list is organized by style rather than region, with headers like “Round/Savory” and “Aromatic/Spicy.” A vast majority of the selections are priced under $100, with about 15 available by the glass. But Turgeman hints that higher-end offerings will join the list. “Have no fear, the older vintages that our group is known for are on their way sooner than later!”

Chef-partner Ari Bokovza, who is also of Israeli heritage, showcases the region’s cuisine through a menu of mezzes and small plates, plus a handful of larger entrées. There are eclectic dishes like duck matzo ball soup and harissa-barbecue chicken, as well as more traditional options like short-rib tagine and Israeli salad. It’s all served in a colorful space with vibrant teal accents, playfully patterned tile flooring and an open kitchen.—Julie Harans

New York’s Cote Korean Steakhouse Comes to Miami

Small pieces of meat ready to be cooked on the signature grill at Cote Korean Steakhouse

Tabletop grills are a signature feature at Cote Korean Steakhouse, which now has a sibling location in South Florida. (Gary He)

Restaurateur Simon Kim’s Cote Korean Steakhouse expanded to Miami this month with a new location in the Design District. The original outpost in New York City holds a Best of Award of Excellence for its wine list managed by beverage director Victoria James, who is also overseeing the Miami list. She describes the program as “the best of Cote New York with a little Miami flair.”

Like its sibling restaurant, the new Cote’s 1,200-label list highlights wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, California and Italy, with additional picks from South America, South Africa, Australia and beyond. James says a key difference is that this list has significant Southern Hemisphere picks, while only Northern Hemisphere wines are featured on the New York list, since consumers there lean heavily toward European wines. More than 20 wines are available by the glass, in either 5-ounce or 8-ounce pours. There are about 10,000 bottles of inventory, which are on display near the restaurant’s entrance.

Executive chef David Shim’s menu showcases several cuts of meat like dry-aged New York strip, dry-aged rib eye and filet mignon, plus Korean-style options like banchan, kimchi stew and galbi. Other dishes, like ceviche, are exclusive to the Miami outpost. The space was designed by architecture firm MNDPC (also designers of the original Cote) and features a circular bar, green booths, tabletop grills and a neon sign over its front doors. “We really want people to have this beautiful, convivial experience where they share food over this grill and enjoy awesome wine,” James said. “I hope that we can serve the community here.”

Plans for a Miami location began two years ago after Kim started looking for places to expand. “[Miami is] so vibrant and there’s so much diversity,” James said. “It’s such a fun city that really embodies a lot of what we stand for, which is meat, fire, booze, smiles.”—C.D.

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