The idea came to Chef Jordan Marano while sitting at an oyster bar in North Carolina. He believed that a Miami-style oyster bar, infused with traditional Latinx flavors, could truly succeed. He reached out to Christian Plotczyk, a friend and fellow chef, about his intention to open this restaurant. The two teamed up immediately and have yet to look back.
The namesake of the restaurant, Ella, is not only paying homage to Plotczyk’s daughters whose names both end in -ella and Chef Marano who also has a daughter although not with -ella, but also its Spanish translative counterpart, which means her. They refer to the restaurant as a her, and she is pithy, she is welcoming, she is Miami.
The co-owners found a free space right in the heart of Little Havana. Like many iconic Miami neighborhoods, this one is experiencing a transition and the duo are carefully making their mark. “We don’t want to take anything away from the area. We want to enhance the neighborhood and add dynamic to it,” said Chef Marano when asked about the what he wants the restaurant’s role to be for Little Havana.
Plotczyk, Director of Operations and Finance at Ella’s, was equally interested in really bringing something distinctive to the neighborhood without overshadowing the culture and well-established community already present. He mentioned wanting the restaurant to be a vehicle for Miamians and tourists alike to discover Little Havana. They hope that people can enjoy all the history and other neighborhood treasures while also enjoying their distinctly Miami menu.
Their Calle Lobster Roll ($21) comes in a medianoche roll (a Cuban staple) filled with Maine Lobster and Tajin Mayo and comes with a side of herb fries. The Crab Croquettas ($13 - another twist on a classic) are stuffed with crab meat and served with Old Bay Hollandaise.
Calle Lobster Roll ($21)
Crab Croquettas ($13)
One way that Marano and Plotczyk are investing in the community is by contracting local vendors for some specific menu items. The Cuban-style crackers are purchased from a local bakery right in the neighborhood. Similarly, an empanada served during brunch is also contracted from a local café.
Other notable items on the menu are the Little Havana Clam Bake for 2 and the Roasted Bone-In Short Rib ($26) that has meat falling off the bone after hours of cooking. The Diver Scallops ($23) are served with Corn and Truffle Ragu, are perfectly seared, and literally melt inside your mouth!
Ella’s also serves several variations of drink specialties, two of which were quite impressive. The Ginger Haven, made with Sake, fresh blackberries, lemon juice, and ginger simple syrup is a smooth, sensual cocktail—perfect for a ladies night out. If you are looking to spice up your life a bit, opt for the Spicy Cucumber Margarita made with El Guitarron, serrano pepper, lime juice, and has an agave chili rim. The cucumber is truly refreshing, and the serrano pepper adds a nice kick.
If not for any other reason, Ella’s growth can be attributed to Chef Marano’s and Plotczyk’s insistence that people come to the restaurant and “come as they are and dine as they wish.” They have managed to materialize this idea by giving the restaurant a sophisticated, but accessible aura. In both the near and distant future of Ella’s, the partners both anticipate the restaurant to evolve with the neighborhood as they will continue to remain bonded with the community and with their customers.
Ella’s Oyster Bar is located at 1615 SW 8th Stree, Miami, FL 33135 in the heart of Little Havana.