Breathtaking Views and Sumptuous Cuisine on Collins Avenue
By Marla Lazarus • Photography by Simon Hare
Welcome, AQ by Acqualina, the new kid on the block, or should we say Collins Avenue? AQ made its highly anticipated debut in the heart of Sunny Isles Beach in April. With the Atlantic Ocean as our backdrop, we instantly relaxed in a comfortable plush sofa in the dining room. As candles flicker on marble tables, upbeat music fosters a dynamic ambiance while outside on the AQ veranda, twinkling tree lights set a magical mood enhanced by the night sky and sounds of the sea. There is no better way to dine with friends or loved ones than to enjoy delicious dishes crafted from the highest quality ingredients. Amiable and knowledgeable servers guided us while we explored a polished menu that offered something to please every palate.
At the helm, legendary Chef Dewey LoSasso’s menu draws inspiration and flavors from across the globe including the Mediterranean, Latin American and Asian. Known for his imaginative cuisine, he uses ingredients from local farmers and purveyors, giving his dishes fresh flavors while presenting a vibrant and artful presentation. Drawing inspiration from flavors experienced and techniques honed during world travel and years of perfecting his craft, Chef LoSasso has designed a menu for AQ that features both small plates and hearty entrées.
As we perused the menu, a study in sophisticated diversity featuring fresh, local ingredients, we began our culinary journey sharing starters, which included a Lobster Panino filled with mascarpone cheese and tender morsels of lobster. The Steamed Mussels with local tomato was enhanced with arugula aioli, while the Sun Flower Crostini layered roasted spaghetti squash, St. Andre cheese and crispy onions melted in our mouth. Chicken and basil meatballs were tender and served with a light tomato sauce, and don’t overlook the fresh selection of sushi. The lobster roll created a beautiful masterpiece and tasted second to none.
Roasted garlic spread and olives complemented the 20-Hour Charred Octopus while the Cured Snapper Beignets are served with a pear salad, pecorino cheese and peppercorns. Just delicious! Tandoori Tuna Tartare and Chilled Soba Noodle Salad were fresh and light as was the Kale Salad with shaved Parmesan and citrus dressing. Creamy Vermont Buratta and Heirloom Tomatoes with pink salt and olive oil was perfect to share.
Standout seafood selections include Grilled Salmon with horseradish mashed potatoes, radish shoot salad and Chinese mustard, Pan-Seared Black Grouper with celery root and apple cakes over a carrot-pomegranate reduction, and Yellow Fin Tuna Marsala with wild mushrooms, capers and salsify. Our meat lovers thoroughly enjoyed the Grilled Hanger Steak served atop a bed of wild boar black beans, tomato-pancetta BLT and foie gras maduro, as well as perfectly Grilled Filet Mignon with corn budino, marrow toast and black garlic sauce. Don’t pass on the Roasted Bell and Evans Chicken served with charred bread soup, wheat berries and lemon or Farro Risotto with creamy French feta and an assortment of grilled vegetables.
AQ offers an array of creative and classic cocktails, as well as an extensive wine selection perfectly matching diverse selections on the menu. Unique selections of artisan wines, produced by old and historic estates, are available on a global scale including biodynamic and sustainable vintages when possible.
Our perfectly sweet ending included steamy cappuccinos and a selection of house-made decadent desserts, served by pastry chef Rodney Barchi. From a creamy and tart Key Lime Pie, Ecuadorian chocolate fudge bar, fresh seasonal berries, raspberry pearls, crunchy coffee base and basil ice cream – photo credit Simon Hare, melt in your mouth French Macaroons to an assortment of gelatos and fruit tarts, you just can’t go wrong.
Choose from the spacious yet cozy open dining room, or charming outdoor veranda. AQ aims to make waves and invigorate the local dining scene with its vibrant food and drink culture, sprawling menu of farm-to-table Modern American fare, and creative libations.