Riverside restaurants see niche in Covid-19 recovery
Riverside has reopened and is ready to take your order.
As the City of Miami adjusts to a new normal in the wake of Covid-19, the open-air culinary experience at 431-451 S Miami Ave. may be perfectly suited for public dining with lots of elbow room.
Owner and developer Antonio Primo said Riverside offers a clean and safe environment where patrons can enjoy food and drinks, on the banks of the Miami River with Brickell and downtown as iconic backdrops.
Mr. Primo said Riverside had a soft open in early February with a successful Super Bowl watch party. Then several of the seven dining options were slowly opened into March as the unique business established itself.
But the coronavirus health scare led to full closure by the end of March, with the implementation of stay-at-home orders and other governmental restrictions shutting down all but essential businesses.
The owners and operators of the eateries and tap room have used the time to tweak the layout and adapt to public restrictions, and Riverside reopened Thursday, May 28.
The days of operation will expand next week with a Wednesday, June 10, opening and continue Thursday through Sunday.
When it comes to the novel coronavirus, medical experts say outdoor dining is less risky than indoor dining. Some restaurants are considering adding outdoor eating areas, while at Riverside that has been a constant since day one.
“We have plenty of space and the food is fantastic,” said Mr. Primo.
“The main message we’re trying to get out is that we’ve gone through great lengths to meet and exceed all requirements stipulated by the CDC and governor, and the county and city.”
He added: “We’ve gone above and beyond what’s required for Covid-19… everyone’s wearing a mask.” Monitors and security guards are helping with social distancing and operations at the site. Customers arriving without masks are given one. A cleaning crew is armed with disinfectant and supplies to keep the spaces clean and safe.
“We have 100,000 square feet of space where you can sit and enjoy the environment with good food and good drinks,” said Mr. Primo.
Along with Miami River Taproom, he cited components at Riverside:
■Taco Gourmet by Chef Alex is a fast-casual Mexican eatery directed by Chef Alex de Castro. He’s accumulated a lot of experience across many restaurants and has now developed a new concept with nachos, tacos and churros. Chef Alex is giving a gourmet touch to several famous Mexican recipes.
■Lisboeta by Old Lisbon is a Portuguese tapas and wine eatery from the owners of Old Lisbon, a restaurant chain that’s been around in Miami for almost 30 years. Its menu offers Portuguese gastronomy such as fritto misto, octopus skewers and cod fish croquettes.
■ Crush Pizza Bar is a new concept featuring a classic enjoyable at any age or time of day, by the slice or the whole pie.
■ CAGE Crafted by Le Chick is a casual hotspot from the owners of Le Chick for gourmet comfort-food. Every sauce is made from scratch.
■AWA Asian Cuisine is one of the two full-service restaurants inside Riverside. AWA offers contemporary Japanese cuisine mixed with Asian influences in a waterfront venue. Its style is inspired by the Izakaya concept, a Japanese gastropub for casual after-work drinking and sharing family-style dishes.
Offerings expected soon are:
■Patio Riviera, a Mediterranean full-service restaurant offering family-style dishes and a selection of signature cocktails and wine. The menu features selections from the land, sea and garden with fish, steaks and fresh vegetables. The patio can also host small to medium sized events.
■Stefano Versace Gelato has grown in a few years to more than 20 shops throughout Florida.
“We are very happy to be reopened again and providing for our community,” said Mr. Primo.
Once things settle down, they do plan a grand opening celebration, but no potential dates have been selected, he said.
“It all depends on Covid-19 … we are taking it day-by-day,” he said.
What they would like is to have the grand launch in November, before the start of the heavy tourist season, right before Art Basel, said Mr. Primo.
“If everything starts going back to some normality, we can use the summer to gain momentum and plan for a really big grand opening in November, right before we kick off our season,” he said.