MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Welcome to Mina's Mediterraneo, an upscale but totally approachable neighborhood eatery off 79th Street in Miami.
Owner Yasmine Kotb, a native of Cairo, Egypt, grew up in Texas where she gained an appreciation for family-style eating using her Mediterranean background as the base for her food.
"It's a regional restaurant. It's not just Mideastern or Italian or Greek or French. The idea was to span the entire region," said Kotb.
Kotb took a liking to baking and makes all of the homemade pitas on premises. As CBS4's Lisa Petrillo found out it's smash, roll and bake to pure puff perfection.
First up Petrillo sampled the mélange of Mediterranean style dips starting with a fava bean puree.
"I'm a dipper. I can dip all day and i can have fun with these dips," Petrillo said.
The space, formerly a dry cleaning facility, is now colorful, charming and inviting. Walls are filled with deco era photos of cities in the Mediterranean. In the two years since it's opened, loyal customers flock to Mina's from surrounding neighborhoods with pride.
"They almost always brag to me about how they tell everyone about it. They feel like its theirs. They tell everyone about it. It's kind of become a community restaurant," said Kotb.
Next up on tasting menu - lamb burger on fresh home made pita sliders.
"There is so much flavor in this lamb, it's seasoned to perfection," said Petrillo. "It's so tender and the little soft, puffy bread she just made is delicious and, for me, the perfect size."
The pizzas represent every region; from Morocco to Egypt. Petrillo chose to check out a Greek pizza.
"It's delicate with the right amount of cheese. It has feta and mozzarella and olives and tomato. It doesn't taste Italian. It tastes Greek with a wonderful Mediterranean flavor," she said.
The Branzino, which is served whole including the head, is a top seller.
"It's the best Branzino I've ever had," said Petrillo smiling. "It's melt in your mouth, super fresh and I love the lemony flavor. I'm not upset about head because it's a beautiful fish and it tastes so good."
The meal ended on a sweet note with a gluten free chocolate tart.
Mina's Mediterraneo is a neighborhood gem that takes you a world away. It's opened Tuesday through Sunday dinner only. Brunch is on Saturday and Sunday.
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