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Eating The Eat Beat

Italian Festival in Fort Lauderdale March 3-5 and seafood feast at Bazaar Mar

Welcome to the Eat Beat Newsletter. The South Beach Wine and Food Festival is over, Mardi Gras has come and gone, and now it is time for hangovers and Lent. Fret not, because there are other food fests ahead and plenty of fish in the sea, starting in Brickell ...

(Baited by amazing sea treats at four-star Bazaar Mar.)

Honey, I ate the aquarium!: If you're looking for a fish place on Fridays, or Meatless Mondays, have I got the spot for you. It's not often I get giddy with excitement about a restaurant meal, but it happened on my trip to Bazaar Mar by Jose Andres. I wound up eating half the menu in a four-star dream seascape of a dinner, the best meal I've had since I floated out of Thomas Keller's French Laundry in Napa in 2003. Andres' crew pulls off astounding culinary feats in a joyful Philippe Starck-designed setting. But be warned: nearly the entire menu is seafood, so skip it if you hate fish. And there's hardly any carbs on the pricey plates, so you'll need to order a bit to get full.

(Meatballs and more at Fort Lauderdale Italian fest.)

Italian festival in Lauderdale: If you like Italian food (and who doesn't?), there's a first-time festival taking place this weekend at Huizenga Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The Taste of Little Italy 2017 runs March 3 through March 5 and features food, music and art. The festival runs 3-10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. Among the vendors participating: Mimi's Ravioli of Hollywood. Admission is $10.

(Say cheese ... and wine ... and Doogie!)

It's a wrap for SOBEWFF: If you couldn't make it to the 2017 South Beach Wine and Food Festival, or couldn't afford a ticket to one of the 90 events, you can live vicariously through's festival photo galleries. The festival had a little bit of everything, from Snoop Dogg to Doogie Howser (that's Neil Patrick Harris for you kids, pictured above at the Bloody Mary Brunch at the Fort Lauderdale Ritz-Carlton). I'd never been to the fest before this year, and it was quite the spectacle. Look for my take on the festival in coming days on The Eat Beat blog.

(Woof-woof: Tucker Duke's burgers ain't no dogs.)

Tucker Duke's scores big at Burger Bash: Tucker Duke's Lunchbox, of Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton, had a lucrative night at the South Beach food fest's Burger Bash. After clamoring to get an invite, chef Brian Cartenuto won $10,000 as Red Robin Best of the Bash Winning Chef  for his "Marmaduke" burger. The burger is topped with fig and bacon chutney, melted brie, smoked aioli and arugula, and is available at both locations for $13.

(Moonlight over Miami ... and Jimmy's Eastside.)

Oscar turn for Miami eatery: It was a wild Oscar night as "Moonlight" won Best Picture after a mix-up for the ages, and now Jimmy's Eastside Diner takes a place in South Florida cinematic history. The classic Miami eatery, at 7201 Biscayne Blvd., served as a backdrop in a climactic nighttime scene. But as my colleague Phillip Valys discovered on a recent trip, the diner isn't open for dinner and doesn't serve pollo a la plancha, the "Chef's Special" featured in the movie.

(A not-so-beautiful ending for Beauty and the Feast.)

Beauty's ugly court battle: The popular and well-regarded Beauty and the Feast restaurant on Fort Lauderdale beach abruptly closed last month, and now we know why. A dispute with the new owners of the Atlantic Hotel and Spa has gotten acrimonious, with the restaurant filing suit against the hotel last November, and claims and counterclaims flying. It's the third restaurant to shutter in the hotel over the last decade. Trina and East End Brasserie were the others.

(National pub for Fort Lauderdale's Mai-Kai.)

Tiki time in the Times: The New York Times gave some love to a Fort Lauderdale icon, the Mai-Kai, with a Travel section piece this week that features an interview with chief executive David Levy. But why the paper chose now to spotlight the Hukilau, an annual festival of tiki culture that the Mai-Kai hosts, is beyond me. The festival takes place in June.

(Honored by South Beach food fest, sued by President Trump.)

Quote of the week: "We should be building walls ... We need to be building walls to build schools, to build hospitals, to build community centers, soup kitchens. To build an America we all believe in. ... The American dream of the 21st century is to be an America of inclusion, not an America of exclusion.” -- Chef Jose Andres, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Spain, who used his speech as an honoree at the 2017 South Beach Wine and Food Festival tribute dinner to proclaim solidarity with immigrants and tacitly criticize President Trump, who is suing Andres for pulling out of a restaurant deal.

Got a restaurant tip or dining beef?  Reach me at or 954-356-4508. Don’t troll me, but feel free to roast or flambeé me on Twitter: @heymikemayo, and follow my food adventures on Instagram: @mikemayoeats.

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Stay hungry, my friends.

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