Nouveau Kosher

On the Table
Michel Benoudiz at Rustiko.


By Evan Berkowitz
Executive Chef Jenny Aranguren

Kosher diners are certainly no exception to the holding of high culinary standards.  It is for these reasons that Michel Benoudiz and Abraham Getzel recently opened three restaurants that offer great quality food with tremendous variety and choices. Many consider their work with kosher food to be so original as to call it pioneering.

On the Table
Michel Benoudiz and Chef Jenny Aranguren with all their team.

The two are originally from Venezuela, and along with their executives chefs, Jenny Aranguren, Reison Frioni and David Posner, bring many years of experience to these business ventures. Two of the restaurants are in Surfside and one, less formal establishment is in Aventura, but all three are unique in offering extremely eclectic I’ve-never-tried-that-before type dishes to the public.

Getzel and brother in law Benoudiz started their first restaurant in the US, Fresko, five years ago in Aventura. They recently opened two more, Kosh and RustiKo, on Harding Avenue in Surfside. “The main thing is that at my restaurants you are going to have the whole experience, the ambiance, good service and really good food that can really impress you”, said Benoudiz.

Benoudiz, who only started keeping kosher a few years ago, has twenty years of experience in the restaurant business. When he first became a religiously restricted eater, he said he somewhat resented his limited dining-out options and he realized many other Jews must feel the same way. This is how the idea for opening Fresko began.

At Fresko, the emphasis is on freshness, with a dairy menu focused on special salads, signature wraps, gourmet pizza and pressata sandwiches. The breakfast menu includes waffles, omelets and arepas.

The dinner menu offers great fish dishes like Salmon Dinamita (see recipes) and a large variety of sushi or healthy burgers. They have a delicious dessert menu, created by Chef Patissier Carlos Moscovici. Fresko has a bright, clean, and modern atmosphere.

Kosh, in Surfside, specializes in grilled steak cuts and has a very unique sushi menu. Appetizers and tapas such as Beef Carpaccio (see recipes) or Korean beef bulgogi can easily be a great meal in themselves. Benoudiz highly recommends their fish dishes such as the Sea Bass Thai and specialty tacos made with duck, chicken and meat.

Diners who go here will not have the dilemma of having to choose between going to a steak place or a fish/sushi restaurant. Kosh has been recently redecorated, offering a warm and inviting setting. It can also be rented out for parties.

Rustiko, which is directly across the street from Kosh, gets its name from the combination of the words “rustic” and “kosher.” The restaurant focuses on Italian/Mediterranean type dishes. With its tiled floors, green hanging vines and wood grain finishes, it has all the atmosphere of a classic Italian restaurant, but the food is very far from a classic pasta place.

Rustiko offers many “small plate” dishes to encourage sampling and sharing, these includes fresh ideas like Tuna Pizzeta Carpaccio, Crispy Mini Tacos with salmon tartare and avocado beet gnocchi with goat cheese fondue (see recipes) and Mac & Cheese with bread crumbs and parmesan au gratin. Naturally for a Mediterranean themed restaurant there is a great variety of pastas and pizzas done with flair.

Large plate options include creative items like Pumpkin Ravioli; homemade pasta in a creamy smoked cheese sauce with pine nuts and a touch of cinnamon, also several finely made and well presented fish dishes. Their wine, drink and dessert options are very interesting. “What we are trying to do is bring to the kosher market something to the highest level ever,” said Benoudiz with pride. Rustiko is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It also offers catering services.

The three restaurants are supervised strictly by KM (kosher miami). “This street is becoming a kosher destination,” said Benoudiz of busy and beautiful Harding Avenue Surfside/Bal Harbour, which has become a neighborhood oriented towards Jewish people and concerns, including having several thriving synagogues. To state it clearly, as Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar of the nearby Shul of Bal Harbour says, “Some of the best (kosher) restaurants in the entire south eastern United States are right here on Harding Avenue.”