Samuel Gorenstein to Open Abba Telavivian Kitchen in Miami Beach
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Chef Samuel “Sam” Gorenstein has finally returned to Miami Beach with a new project that sheds light on how he eats at home.
Gorenstein, together with partner Omer Horev, the founder of Pura Vida Miami, will open the Abba Telavivian Kitchen in a small converted bungalow in the South of Fifth neighborhood of Miami Beach. Abba is slated to open in late February, bringing the flavors and spices from Tel Aviv to Miami.
The chef explains that the restaurant is a passion project for both partners on many levels. Horev was born and raised in Tel Aviv. He moved to Miami 15 years ago, but his love for food that he grew up with remains. Gorenstein, a twice James Beard nominee chef and creator of My Ceviche seafood restaurant, which was born in a tiny room in a hostel in the south of the Fifth, and Zuuk Mediterranean Kitchen, has roots in Colombian as well as Turkish and Syrian cultures. Now they want to share the kitchen they cook for their loved ones.
The name of the restaurant itself is derived from love and family. The Hebrew word “Abba” means “father” – terms that, according to Gorenstein, apply to two common aspects of the partner’s life.
“I had a son six months ago and my partner has two kids with another one on the way. We’re fathers in this restaurant too,” he says.
In terms of cuisine, Gorenstein compares the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv to Miami.
“Both are melting pots of flavors and cultures. People flock to both cities to enjoy the beach and the casual atmosphere,” he explains. “And like Miami, there is an amazing food scene with aspiring chefs doing extremely fantastic things.”
Tel Aviv’s culinary influences are enormous, says Gorenstein.
“Because of the historical migrations of so many different people – from North Africa, Eastern Europe and Turkey – there is such a wide variety of flavors.”
“Although we are south of Fifth, we don’t want to ask too much for a meal.”
And it’s a melting pot, says the chef, whose varied and delicious content isn’t widespread in Miami, where most Mediterranean-inspired restaurants sell falafel, shwarma, and the like.
And Israeli food is so much more than that.
In Abba, Gorenstein wants guests to start with Salatim, a range of vegetables, sauces and dips – from roasted vegetables to hummus to labneh with za’atar and roasted beets with tahini and pistachios – served with fresh pita from the stone oven.
Nishnushim, the Hebrew word for “snacks,” includes falafel, a local fish crudo, homemade salmon, and homemade potato chips. Abba also offers salads, sandwiches and fresh fish that is simply roasted with olive oil and sea salt.
Breakfast is served daily with homemade muesli, egg dishes and salmon with citrus fruits.
Gorenstein describes the food as “simple and straightforward with ingredients from good sources”.
Initially, Abba limited the service to breakfast and lunch. He and Horev will wait a while before tackling dinner. At this point, Gorenstein imagines a changing evening menu with a short list of around 15 “wines that Omer and I like to drink ourselves”.
Although prices are not yet available, Gorenstein promises that meals will be affordable.
“We don’t want to break people’s banks,” he says. “Although we are south of Fifth, we don’t want to ask too much for a meal.”
And he’s looking forward to coming back to the kitchen.
“Over the past few years I’ve done some consulting work in South America. Before that, at My Ceviche and Zuuk, I was more focused on the process and growing the brand,” says the chef. “I haven’t really been behind the burner since my days at BLT Steak. Now I just want to create again. I want to get excited again.”
Abba Telavivian kitchen. 864 Commerce St., Miami Beach; abbatlv.com. Opening in February 2021.
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Laine Doss is the food and liquor editor for the Miami New Times. It was featured on Eat Street by Cooking Channel and in the Great Food Truck Race by Food Network. She won an Alternative Weekly Award for her contribution on what it’s like to wait for tables.