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What To Expect At MIA Kitchen & Bar When Former 50 Ocean Chef Blake Malatesta Opens His First Restaurant In Delray

Blake Malatesta, the former chef of 50 Ocean, is set to open his first restaurant at the end of the year.

MIA Kitchen & Bar, a modern, adventurous restaurant focused on Floridian cuisine, will be located on West Atlantic Avenue in Delray, and it'll serve as a brand model for what Malatesta hopes will be future MIA concepts to come. 

The name stands for the core values of the concept—Modern, Inventive, Authentic—but it's also a play on the names of the eatery's sister restaurants. Malatesta, now a partner with restaurateurs that own family-style Italian eateries Mamma Mia's Trattoria and Mamma Mia's Express, set out to open his own modern concept, serving up dishes with uncommon ingredients like gator, rabbit and frog legs.

While Malatesta runs the back-of-house, his wife, Ana, will work as general manager in the front. MIA Kitchen & Bar is expected to open this December. 

As fans of Malatesta's food eagerly await the opening of the new restaurant, the local chef says he's nervous because he doesn't want to disappoint those in the area.

"What I did in my previous years here was [turn] something … that they're not familiar with into something they're more comfortable with," the chef explained.

That's what he plans to do at MIA Kitchen & Bar.

From menu ideas like duck bolognese to gator pizza, Malatesta hopes to make these foreign-sounding local ingredients more approachable to local foodies willing to learn and explore.

"I try to push the envelope and do very playful twists on food," he said. "The whole reason I'm doing this is because it speaks so well to my style of cooking."

The restaurant will serve small plates ($5-$15), composed salads that are light on the leafy greens and heavy on the fresh produce, stone-fired pizzas (~$15), made-from-scratch pastas ($12/$24 for half- or full-plates), and large plates featuring local meats and fish ($20-$30s). 

MIA Kitchen & Bar will also offer a full-service bar program, with craft beer from Florida breweries including Cigar City, Saltwater, and Tequesta, as well as progress cocktails using seasonal fruits and juices, and an extensive wine selection. Of the 80 or so wine bottles MIA will have on its list, the bar will aim to offer nearly three-quarters by the glass, giving customers the chance to try higher-end wines for a lower price.

The restaurant's interior will offer a clean, industrial-chic aesthetic, with elevated ceilings, an open plan kitchen and the fire-stone oven as its centerpiece. Build-out is currently underway.

"It's going to be New York meets Detroit meets Palm Beach County," Malatesta said.

When his restaurant opens, Malatesta hopes it will be an inviting space not only for those who come to Palm Beach County in-season but also for the locals who call the area home year-round.

"It's very hard to find [a restaurant] that can whet the appetite and can keep you intellectually stimulated with food all the time," he said.

MIA Kitchen & Bar; 7901 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach

Photos courtesy Blake Malatesta