Miramar Bistro

Interior of Miramar

Michael Phillips

In a town dominated by Italian and Spanish restaurants, Miramar Bistro stands alone. Located in Highwood, a small suburb of Chicago, Miramar Bistro is the only restaurant of its kind in a town known for great dining. The French-Cuban concept offers upscale, yet casual dining, with an eclectic menu for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Its name comes from a neighborhood in Havana, Cuba, which also serves as the model for the design of the restaurant. Interior décors are a combination of a rustic Cuban eatery and a classic French bistro. Miramar Bistro offers a relaxed atmosphere and quaint country charm with mosaic tile flooring, soft lighting, tan stucco walls and distressed wood tables, chairs and mirrors.

An elegant antique-style wooden bar serves as the focal point of the restaurant and offers a casual spot for guests to have a bite to eat or a cocktail. It features wooden stools and shelves, which showcase a large selection of wine and spirits.

Open since 2004, Miramar Bistro continues to thrive and succeed in Highwood’s competitive restaurant area because of its owner Gabriel Viti, a Highwood native who still lives in the area.

Viti is a chef who has studied all over the world including France, Switzerland, and Italy. In addition to Miramar Bistro, Viti also owns and operates Backstage Lounge and Gabriel’s—his original concept that has been open for nearly two decades. The fantastic food and friendly atmosphere his restaurants offer is a source of his notoriety in Highwood. Viti understands his customers and the community and provides a home-away-from-home in Miramar Bistro.

While the design of the restaurant is tailored to French and Cuban themes, the concept specializes in French cuisine but also features Cuban-, and Italian-inspired dishes. Upon entering the restaurant, guests are treated to an array of enchanting aromas including fresh-baked breads, grilled meats and a variety of rich spices. French themes in the menu are highlighted with classic dishes including Moules Mariniere, escargot and crispy calamari. Sauces such as homemade pesto and crème fraiche—a French sour cream—add to the flavor of. The Cuban options are more in the line of sandwiches, like the Pressed Chicken Pesto, which is a sandwich cooked on a panini type grill.

House specialty: Scallop, crab, and lobster cake

Miramar Bistro’s signature appetizer is the scallop, crab, and lobster cake, all together in one appetizer. The scallop, crab, and lobster are all lightly crusted and placed into a rich and creamy tomato-based sauce with a little spice to it. This starter makes people truly appreciate their taste buds and is a favorite among local restaurant-goers, including Dan Berliant. “The combination of crab, scallops, and lobster is delicious. I love sea food and the fact that I can get them together in one appetizer is one of the reasons I come to this restaurant,” said Berilat.

If diners prefer a lighter appetizer, people can’t go wrong with the Caesar salad. The proprietary dressing is served over fresh lettuce and dressed with a dash of parmesan cheese. Signature entrées include a 10-ounce filet mignon, Salmon Provencial and Steak Au Poivre, a tender New York strip steak topped with cracked pepper, and crème fraiche. In addition to the worldly tastes offered at Miramar Bistro, the family-friendly restaurant also offers a kids’ menu that features hamburgers and chicken tenders.

The absolute must-try dessert at Miramar Bistro is the chocolate mousse. This decadent dessert is a classic chocolate mousse adorned with chocolate, certainly a pleasant way to end an evening. According to regular customer Frank Defilippis, “There are variations of chocolate desserts everywhere, but this chocolate mousse is something different. I don’t know if they use a different kind of chocolate or what, but this is the best I’ve had.”

The friendly and knowledgeable restaurant staff compliments the restaurant and enhances the overall dining experience. Viti continues to offer the community creative, worldly cuisine in a comfortable and welcoming environment. “It’s so nice to have a restaurant where I can go and take my family, and know everyone will like their meal and have a good time,” said restaurant-goer Michael Utterback.

A lively entrance to Miramar

Check It Out: Miramar Bistro

301 Waukegan Avenue – Highwood, IL