Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Taverna Opa - Brickell

Good news! You don't have to board a plane to Greece to enjoy the most mind-blowing octopus you can find. Instead, take a drive over to Brickell and pay $6.00 for valet parking (on a weekday anyway), and begin a  very satisfying love affair with the flavorful dishes of the Mediterranean. Taverna Opa, located in the heart of Mary Brickell Village at 900 South Miami Avenue, has joined the neighborhood that is currently sizzling with hot dining spots.

While most of us in South Florida are familiar with the Taverna Opa brand, the latest addition in Brickell has given new meaning to the word "Opa"!  Situated on the second floor, the place is spacious and lively. It exudes the same energetic, exciting vibe Taverna Opa is known for with a side of raining napkins and belly dancers. Because I've had the pleasure of visiting the Greek Isles and partaking in their delectable cuisine, I found Taverna Opa's fare to be not only authentic but also bursting with flavor.

Garbanzo Beans
Opa Cold Pikilia
As we looked through the menu, we munched on their signature complimentary garbanzo beans served with slices of pita. Tasty to the core, the beans were seasoned with garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. We decided to try several dishes to get a good feel of their offerings. Our first course was one of their traditional cold mezes: the Opa Cold Pikilia.  Pikilia means "variety" in Greek, and this dish was a sampler of several delicious spreads and traditional appetizers: tzatziki (my all-time favorite tangy cucumber dip made with yogurt), melitzanosalata (eggplant dip), tarama (dip made from fish roe), kafteri (cheese and fresh herbs), dolmades (spiced rice wrapped in vine) and olives. It was a very nice assortment to start our meal. Next, we had a Greek Salad, which is a staple if you're in Hellas. It was made with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, kalamata olives, and a chunk of feta cheese on top, then bathed in their signature dressing. Refreshing and simple, we enjoyed every last bite.

Greek Salad

Opa Chips
The highlight of our adventure was the Octopus. When I traveled to Mykonos a couple of years ago, I indulged in quite a bit of the multi-armed delicacy. It is a popular dish there. The octopus we had at Taverna Opa in Brickell was even better. It was char grilled, extremely tender and flavored with the main ingredient found in just about every Greek kitchen: olive oil; along with a splash of red wine vinegar and a pinch of oregano. I seriously envisioned myself in front of  a picturesque white house framed with blue doors, set against a mountainous backdrop of gentle windmills, inhaling the breeze of the Mediterranean Sea. Before we ordered our entrees, we had our hand (and our mouths) at a couple more mezes. One was the Opa Chips, a dish consisting of fried, crispy zucchini and eggplant, served with kefalotiri cheese and tzatziki. Just imagine potato chips with a healthy twist. Nice. The other was the Seafood Toursi, a Greek version of the popular ceviche prepared with shrimp, scallops, calamari, diced red onions and bell peppers, then marinated in a cilantro sauce. Although I'm more of a fan of the Peruvian version of this dish, I still appreciated the combination of flavors and textures.

Seafood Toursi

Lamb Chops
For the first entree we ordered the Lavraki, a spectacular Bronzini (Mediterranean Sea Bass) imported from Greece and served whole, with a side of wild greens and rice pilaf. The lean white fish was mild and moist, grilled with Ladolemono, a special lemon oil sauce. We were in silent awe as we devoured it. We also ordered the Lamb Chops. Marinated with thyme, rosemary and garlic, and served with lemon potatoes and vegetables, it was exquisite. I loved the wood fire flavor embedded in the meat.

To end our culinary adventures through Greece, we decided on two desserts: Baklava, Hella's traditional sweet treat made with walnuts, cinnamon, cloves and honey, and Galaktoboureko, my weakness when it comes to Greek desserts. It is a decadent honey phyllo filled with creamy custard. How should I say this? ήταν καλό! (It was good!)

Mythos Greek Beer and Sangria
It had been a while since I visited a Taverna Opa and I walked out of its newest location in Brickell remembering just why I love this healthy, mouthwatering cuisine so much. Drop by, sip some sangria and enjoy the live entertainment. Opa! For more information, you can call 305 673-6730 or visit them online at

Taverna Opa on Urbanspoon

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