Larios on the Beach - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Larios on the Beach

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It takes a long time to recover from a face-lift, I'm told. But at long last, after a year we will finally get our first look at the new Joan Rivers tonight. No, no, the new Larios. Larios on the Beach, the hot Cuban restaurant on Ocean Drive owned by friends of Deco Gloria and Emilio Estefan, is finally opening its doors after being closed for a year.

This afternoon, I joined mi amigo Emilio for a preview lunch and few mojitos. OK, lots and lots of mojitos.

The new Larios On the Beach does not officially open until Friday, but Emilio Estefan invited me over for lunch to give us an exclusive sneak peek at the new design and flavors of what has always been one of the hottest restaurants on South Beach.

Tonight, there's a fiesta going down at Larios on the Beach.

Emilio: "There you go, welcome to the new Larios."

The famed Cuban restaurant located on Ocean Drive was opened by Emilio and Gloria Estefan back in 1992. It has been closed for a year to undergo a multimillion dollar face-lift.

Louis: "So you gutted everything?"

Emilio: "Everything. All the way to the ground. We had to do the whole building. That's why it took a year."

Emilio gave me the grand tour of the new space before the big opening party Thursday night, a labor of love for Estefan, who finished the walls of the new joint himself by setting stones and shells in concrete.

Louis: "You did all of the walls of the restaurant?"

Emilio: "Everything. Everything. I documented everything, and it was, for me, so much fun."

There is a beautiful new mosaic of Gloria as you enter the restaurant and a spiritual one in the rear dining room.

Emilio: "We decided to put something that belongs to the Cuban community, 'La Virgen de la Caridad.'"

Louis: "That's also a blessing. She's looking over the restaurant."

Emilio: "She's blessing the restaurant."

Here is a dramatic new hanging sculpture created by famed Miami artist Carlos Betancourt, who made the mobile using artifacts from the Estefans' personal memorabilia collection.

Emilio: "Things that have belonged to us for over 25 years. You have the microphone from Ricky Martin."

Louis: "And that's the same microphone that Gloria used in 'Mi Tierra.'"

Emilio: "We have the harmonica from Shakira."

But the biggest upgrade has been to the drinks and food, from the new luxury Botran mojitos...

Louis: "Now that is a luxury mojito."

...to a totally new upgraded menu reflecting the tastes of a health-conscious, sophisticated diner while still holding true to Cuban tradition.

Emilio: "Overall, it's home cooking in a healthy way. Better presentation, better quality food."

Forget what abuela served. Cuban food doesn't have to be fattening. The menu is full of healthy, very tasty options like the corvina ceviche served with baked plantain chips, not fried.

Emilio: "You have to try that. It is totally different, but it tastes the same."

Louis: "Unbelievable. It doesn't have the oil, but you don't lose the flavor."

Next up, vaca frita, basically fried cow. Ah, but check this out.

Louis: "I know this is Gloria's favorite dish, vaca frita, but this is chicken vaca frita?"

Emilio: "It is chicken because it's a lot healthier."

Even the rice and beans get a makeover, made with no meat and brown rice, if you choose.

Louis: "Incredible. Don't tell my mother."

Emilio: "I think we have a customer good."

And if you wanna indulge and say, "Hasta mañana, dieta," no worries. Larios got your back. From the Cuban Chinese fried rice with maduros and shrimp to amazing desserts, the new Larios is gonna blow your taste buds.

Emilio: "Salud. Thank you for coming, and I hope you bring the whole family now."

Louis: "You're not going to get rid of me."


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