18 months ago a brief encounter between old friends had them discover that they both wanted to open up a new restaurant concept. After many brainstorm sessions, traveling around Miami and looking at properties a small location in Little Havana was found. Today, this place is called Ella’s Oyster bar and the two friends: Christian and Jordan Marano. We were able to catch up with Jordan and ask him a few essential questions that give you the scoop inside the oyster shell:
What are some of the key ingredients to Ella’s Oyster Bar?
We believe we have created a first of a kind oyster bar, ‘Miami’s Oyster Bar’, that is a true representation of the melting pot of cultures in Miami. It is an approachable concept which includes unique dishes such as pastelito ice cream, lobster rolls on medianoche, oysters with Cuban crackers, plantain tater tots, Little Havana clambake and pupusa’s being overlooked by an art mural on our walls where you can see the skyline of miami reflected off a woman’s glasses.
What was the last dish you ate? Which dish surprised you?
I try and eat light. Well as light as an Italian in an oyster bar can eat. Cuttle Fish is a light dish that i’m enjoying right now that gives me an amazing post eating feeling. But the last dish that surprised me had to do with my Haitian kitchen staff when we were cooking their traditional buffalo griot. This is a dish that has been a fried pork plate essential to the Haitian culinary tradition including escabeche (pickled jalapenos). My favorite part was taking their authentic traditions and mixing it with my background to create something completely new and unique. My Haitian staff said it was the best they ever had! It was the ultimate compliment.
What’s your favorite place to go, to get inspired to create new dishes?
Memories. I think a lot about my early years with my family. Spending time with my greatest inspiration, my Nona (grandmother), watching and cooking with her. Those times elicit a moment and hunger for the human social experience. Even today I’d rather be connecting with people. I’m barely on instagram. Most of the times I come home after a long day of work and am lucky if I catch 30 minutes of ESPN before passing out.
What’s the most indispensable item in the kitchen?
Our serrated bread knife. People go crazy in the kitchen if we can’t find it. It’s funny actually.
Citrus. Lemon, lime, anything that just gives a fresh taste to the food.
What’s the first dish you ever created?
I remember being young and having Gnocchi races with my sisters and cousins. We would see who could roll up the gnocchi as fast as possible. The winner got taken to McDonalds. But this was a different time when McDonald’s was not so much Fast Food but a treat. When the hash browns were delicious and I had to collect every single Dream Team cup.
What neighborhood would you like to open another Ella’s in?
We’ve looked into and received offers from different places including the Brightline Station, Timeout Food Hall & St. Roch. Ultimately, we want to take our time and do it right here first. When we feel comfortable and got it all to the standard that we want then we’ll think about expanding to other areas.
What international food destination do you most want to visit?
Well I don’t know about international food destinations but I’ll tell you that there’s a spot in North Carolina called Tony’s Oyster Bar where me and my dad visited a few Memorial Day Weekends ago and we just looked at each other and knew we wanted to bring an oyster bar to Miami.
How was Ella’s born?
Family means everything to me. My partner Christian has two daughters named Isabella and Gabriella and had the name Ella’s already in mind. Hi daughters get along with my daughter Mayah very well and we thought, ella’s which means girls or ladies in Spanish also worked.
What does community mean to you?
Community is family. All the moments we had growing up around the dinner table like Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was the talking and sharing that brought us together and underneath everybody’s nose was a plate of delicious food, the great unifier.