A leisurely weekend lunch at Izzy’s (owned by my good friend, Chef Jamie DeRosa.)
On a balmy Saturday afternoon, I snuggled into a corner table at “Izzy’s Fish & Oyster” on South Beach and let the atmosphere consume me. The warm, inviting eatery reminds me of the places I used to frequent in my childhood, especially in northern Maine.
I would spend my summer school breaks there visiting my aunts (my mom’s sisters,) who taught me the New England way of life. Things seemed simpler back then; I remember it like it was yesterday, too: the sun shining on my face, the sand between my toes and fresh seafood for almost every meal.
At lunchtime, I would ride my bike across Islesboro Island (off Penobscot Bay) to the local diner and feast on lobster rolls. If I got lucky, at dinnertime, they’d serve up something called Lobster Newburg. Hmmm…I can still smell it. (It’s a lobster casserole baked with butter cream, cognac, sherry and eggs.)
A lot has changed since then, but at “Izzy’s Fish & Oyster,” owner and chef Jamie DeRosa has managed to bring my childhood memories to life, updating them with a magical foodie flair. From the blue-and-white decor (think Cape Cod) to the dark/twinkly bar (think downtown Boston,) Izzy’s is the kind of place that inspires you to make memories or linger for a long afternoon snack. Matter of fact, I’d love to go back, sit at the bar, drink a cold beer and have a dozen or so oysters on the half shell.
Before I started Spotlight, I was treated to a glass of bubbly, “Chambong-style.” Yep, just like a beer bong, but a champagne bong is way classier (at least that’s what I tell myself.) Deco Drive featured the novelty at Izzy’s a few months ago and I couldn’t wait to try one for myself. It was worth the wait!
(Warning: it’s all about form, people. I tried sipping out of the bong but sometimes, a girl has to let go and guzzle. I mean, YOLO! Plus, sipping a bong is messy and frankly, ridiculous. After bonging…)
Three signature cocktails arrived: “Izzy Fizzy,” “New England Express” and “Where The Figawi.” I loved the whimsical presentation of the “Izzy Fizzy,” complete with a yellow and white straw. The refreshingly unusual drink is made with kava, ginger, mint, lemon, vodka and aperol.
The “New England Express” was pretty and packed a major punch, made with mezcal, honey, lime, basil oil, pineapple and cracked pepper. I love the the play on words with “Where The Figawi”. Okay, stay with me here. You know that traditionally heavy Boston accent?
Think “The Departed” (starring Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Leo DiCaprio) where they were always sayings things like: “Where the F*** are we?” Well, that’s the drink: “Where The Figawi.” Haha! Genius, right? (It’s made with rye, hibiscus, grapefruit, lemon and a white German beer.)
The “Key Lime Stuffed French Toast” (with key lime custard, graham cracker and mint) was the first dish I tried; it was moist and marvelous. It’s perfect if you have a sweet tooth. When you cut it, it oozes yummy goodness. I’d call it an explosion of Florida flavors.
The “New England Clam Chowder” (with potato leeks and oyster crackers) was thick and delicious. In fact, I could eat this meaty soup the rest of my natural born life. In full disclosure, I’m a sucker for a good soup. It’s so hearty, it could easily be a meal.
I’d heard a lot about “Izzy’s Maine Lobster Roll” (served warm or cold) with lobster mayo. It comes with a side of seasoned waffle fries. Hello, lovah… where’ve you been my whole life? It’s a MUST-TRY! The roll is simple and delicious; easily reminding me of my beloved Maine in the summertime .
Last but not least, I enjoyed a preview of what’s to come in the new year at Izzy’s in the form of a “Knuckle Sandwich”(made with swiss cheese, Maine lobster, Florida pickles and parsley. ) This and the lobster roll were my two favorites. The picture (with the sandwich bleeding cheese) doesn’t even do it justice.
I wrapped up Spotlight with a “Classic Whoopie Pie” (complete with marshmallow fluff.) I can’t say I’m surprised at how great Izzy’s is, because Jamie just “gets” it. The award-winning chef doesn’t just know food, he realizes it can evoke emotions, feelings, even memories…that’s just part of what makes him so great at what he does.
What’s more, he created his restaurant after a road trip up the New England coast with his wife, Amy and his daughter (named Izzy,) who was just six-weeks-old at the time. Somewhere in-between baby naps, time with his beautiful wife and a King’s share of seafood, Jamie gave birth to a new idea: a cool crab shack in the heart of the Magic City.
Now, Jamie infuses those precious memories into “Izzy’s Fish & Oyster” on a daily basis. For the record, this isn’t just any crab shack; it’s a glamorous one, with great food and an infectious atmosphere — that’s why it’s one of my favorite things. It also happens to be the perfect place to have a special holiday meal. Happy Christmas!
Lunch: Monday-Friday 12pm-4pm.
Dinner: Sunday-Wednesday 6pm-10pm & Thursday-Saturday 6pm-11pm.
Brunch: Saturday & Sunday 12pm-4pm.
Happy Hour is everyday 4pm-7pm.
Izzy’s Fish & Oyster is located South of Fifth on Washington Avenue on South Beach.
423 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139