Bravo’s newest restaurant reality show, “Best New Restaurant,” has generated plenty of buzz so far as fans have watched the first six restaurant contenders compete in intense, head-to-head matchups. But we here at Rewards Network are extra excited for this week’s episode, which features program restaurant R House, located in Miami’s lively Wynwood arts district.
Chef-owner Rocco Carulli puts the “R” in R House, and his restaurant puts fun and flair into every dining experience. With a menu offering a mix of American, Mediterranean, Asian, and Latin dishes — plus an integrated art gallery and DJs or live music — R House is a one-of-a-kind gem in the Miami dining scene.
This unique concept is also sure to make for a worthy “Best New Restaurant” contender, but we’ll have to wait until Wednesday night to see how the battle unfolds. In anticipation of the episode, we were honored to get the 4-1-1 on R House’s “Best New Restaurant” experience and Carulli’s words of wisdom on his restaurant’s success.
Finish this statement: “R House is the ‘Best New Restaurant’ because … ”
Rocco Carulli: …we offer a unique combination of food, art, and music all under one roof in one of the USA’s most happening neighborhoods.
What do you think has been R House’s secret to success as a new restaurant?
RC: Well, to start with the basics, we have a fantastic, eclectic menu of my favorite dishes from years as a chef and a delicious drink selection often made from home-infused spirits. The quality in our food and drink offerings and the consistency in our service has brought us a lot of regular customers in a short space of time who have spread the word about our new business to new guests across Miami and Florida.
We have quite a unique space, which has an integrated modern art gallery, and the exterior of our building is decorated with striking murals. We often have live music. We feel these things have attracted a lot of customers because there is no other venue quite like ours in Miami.
Another factor is that we chose one of Miami’s most up-and-coming neighborhoods, Wynwood, to open our restaurant in, so we get a lot of customers who are coming to explore the area for the first time. Finally, a lot of hard work went into opening the restaurant and managing the new business in its first year. We would never have been a success without putting in all those hours!
When did you find out the restaurant had been selected to come on “Best New Restaurant” and what was your reaction?
RC: We were first approached in February [of last year], but did not get final word until 2 weeks before filming in July. As for my reaction, I was surprised but thrilled. I thought it was a chance of a lifetime to show America what we have created at R House.
How much time did you have to prepare before the competition and what did the restaurant do to prepare?
RC: We only had a couple of weeks to prepare before the first stage of the competition, so time was short! Needless to say, there were a lot of meetings of the management team to discuss tactics and a lot of training meetings for our front-of-house and back-of-house subteams to make sure our teams knew our menus and service procedures inside out. Chef de Cuisine Nuno Grullon and I also got straight to work on composing a special menu for the second part of the first stage of the competition, and spent a lot of time practicing getting those dishes pitch perfect.
What have you learned from the experience competing on “Best New Restaurant”?
RC: We have learned so much from being on the show. Tom Colicchio and the other experts on the show are professionals in the industry and were like mentors for us. Some of the R House team have been in the hospitality industry for many years and others just a few. All of us agreed that you never stop learning and can always learn more to help you go that extra mile to make your restaurant stand out from the crowd. We also learned from seeing the variety of restaurants participating in the show how diverse the modern American restaurant is — really inspiring!
Do you have any future plans as a result of being on the show?
RC: As for future plans, we want to continue to build our business over the next year. Remember, we are not even 1 year old yet and were only 6 months old when we filmed the show. We have lots of plans, so please watch this space!
What advice would you offer to other restaurants on providing the best overall dining experience to their customers?
RC: Consistency is key. A great restaurant offers consistently high-quality food, drink, service, and ambiance. Make sure you have systems and policies in place to make sure you are at the top of your game in each of these aspects of the business.
Be sure to watch Bravo tomorrow night at 10/9 p.m. CST to see R House compete on “Best New Restaurant”!
Did you miss our interview with first “Best New Restaurant” contestants DOMA and Dolce Italian? Check out their thoughts on the competition now!