Prism Tastes: ALMA

May 8, 2018Pola Bunster

Tucked away on a wide corner of Coconut Grove is the culinary gem your soul has been waiting for. Aptly named ALMA, the contemporary restaurant with a Spanish flare might be new to Miami’s scene, but it’s packed with the natural skill and maturity that comes with spirited experience. The cozy spot is modern yet welcoming. Filled with light and the open friendliness absorbed from its husband and wife owners, Chef Sergio Chamizo and Maria Polanco.

As Flamenco music sways softly in the background, you’ll sink deeply into the sweet smells wafting from the open kitchen. It’s a perfect place for conversation, whether intimate or lively. Let the Spanish wines help it flow. Everything about ALMA is an extension of Chef Chamizo’s life calling: food. His passion for cooking started at a young age and took him around the world. From his home in Barcelona, to Madrid, London, and now Miami. Raised in the 305, Polanco brings her masterful storytelling to the table for a perfect culinary pair.

Culinary Exploration for the Soul.

Like its name, everything about ALMA speaks to the soul. The place and its cooking is honest and pure, a perfect representation of Chef Sergio’s plan of attack. It might be their first project together, but the two recognized Miami’s current paradigm shift and found the perfect time to hit the ground running. And what a genuine run it already is building up to be. In just three short months, Chef Sergio has easily climbed himself up the ranks of Miami culinary underdogs. We wouldn’t be surprised to see his name nominated on lists both local and national sometime soon. For him, it truly does come from the soul.

The food itself is not traditional Spanish fare. It’s risky and modern and filled with worldly influences, constantly coming back to Chef Chamizo’s homeland. The entire menu is a lecture in Spanish geography, the country itself being shaped and transformed from the many cultures it has housed. Yet the culinary passion doesn’t stop at the chef. It has trickled down into every cook and every server, each one equally in tune with every detail on the menu. A glass of wine with a side of the wine maker’s family history wouldn’t be a strange thing to receive here.

Not Your Average Spanish Scene.

We kicked off our meal with the roasted beets, sour cream, and salmon roe dish–a crisp plate perfect for summertime. If there would be anything we’d come back for it would start with the oxtail sandwiches, cooked for 24-hours. Another plate that blew our minds was the ajo blanco–Malagan take on gazpacho substituting garlic and almond for your usual tomato base. Did you know every region in Spain has its own recipe for gazpacho? Well, this one takes the cake…or bowl.

After living in London for many years, Chef Sergio found himself diving deep into the flavors of far away cultures while gaining a newfound pride for his own. Which is why we weren’t surprised to see pairings like Korean gochujang and a black garlic romesco with their glazed octopus. The honey spiced duck breast is not only ridiculously juicy, it sizzles as you slice into it. Easily one of the best in town.

A New Regular.

If we weren’t pleasantly surprised already, the chocolate dessert came with its own sort of guessing theater. There are two mind-boggling ingredients that even the menu doesn’t share, cheekily introduced as “…and more.” You’ll even catch Chamizo and Polanco giggling in anticipation to see if their guests are close to deducing. Swing by for lunch on weekends or their happy hour steals, although the two will be just as happy to have you any time, we’re sure.

Photos by FujiFilm Girl.