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By Tali Minor

In a new three-part series, we ask some of our favorite food influencers to dish on their favorite dishes at Bal Harbour Shops. To kick things off, Nicole Lopez-Alvar, Gio Gutierrez, Dana Rozansky and Nico Norena share what tops their summer menus at the Shops, and offer a few cocktails to sip on when the heat really starts to rise. Be warned, this post is guaranteed to make you work up an appetite.


Woman smiles while holding up a cheeseburger

Nicole Lopez-Alvar’s favorite summer dish is the American cheeseburger at Hillstone.

Nicole Lopez-Alvar / @NicoleLovar

Describe your favorite Summer dish from your favorite Bal Harbour Shops restaurant.
There’s one dish that I immediately start craving around the summertime and it’s the classic, juicy, all-American cheeseburger—and if there’s one restaurant in all of South Florida that serves it up the best, it’s none other than Hillstone Bal Harbour. One bite of their cheeseburger and you’re immediately transported to a holiday weekend barbecue. It’s so good that it tastes—somehow —like the Fourth of July. It is the epitome of summer dining in South Florida, and here’s why.

The gorgeous, piled high, medium-rare cheeseburger is stacked to perfection and is cut in half (perfect for taking in its beauty or for sharing). From the bottom-up, the cheeseburger begins with a house-made, fully dressed bun that’s crave-able in itself. The bun is then layered with house-made coleslaw and their mouthwatering, medium-rare, freshly ground chuck that is covered with the perfect amount of melted white American cheese. Next come the crisp pickles and a layer of their delicious, pickled onions that give the burger a refreshing and tangy burst of flavor, which perfectly complements the juicy patty. Last, but not least, come the slices of ripe tomato, the crisp shredded lettuce, and the bun. Ok, are you craving this yet?

How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is a reflection of the tropical paradise I call home: Miami. From tropical prints and floral designs, to crisp whites, flowy dresses and a great pair of sneakers or wedges, the staples in my closet are both feminine and practical for beating the year-round warm weather. And in true “Miami” fashion, I’m not afraid to embrace my sexy side for a night out with my girlfriends or for dinner at a new hotspot with my boyfriend. (Thankfully I’m no longer into bodycon dresses at the club, though. Hallelujah.)

What do you consider your greatest indulgence?
My greatest indulgence, no matter the time of day, year, or season, is dessert. I know many folks claim they have a sweet tooth, as well, but when it comes to mine… it is hard to beat. As a Miamian with Cuban roots, you’ll find me ordering a sandwich with a side of fruit preserves, ordering an omelet and the chocolate chip banana pancakes at brunch, and always asking to at least “see” the dessert menu. How could you not? But when it comes to my all-time favorite indulgence, it’s a truly loaded ice cream sundae with all of the fixings. My boyfriend and I create one every weekend.

What’s your favorite summer cocktail?
My favorite summer cocktail has to be the piña colada. I was going to say something “cooler” along the lines of a spicy margarita or a Paloma, but if there’s one cocktail that takes me to my happy place it’s the piña colada. Like, you literally cannot be sad when you are sipping a deliciously sweet and refreshing piña colada. It’s humanly impossible (trust me I’ve tried).

Here’s my go-to recipe that’s based on the original recipe created in Puerto Rico. (I’ve seen recipes where they add lime—don’t you dare.)

2 oz White Rum
1 oz  Coco Lopez coconut cream
1 oz Heavy cream
6 oz Fresh pineapple juice
5 cups Crushed ice

1. Pour ingredients into a blender.
2. Blend until smooth and serve in a tall glass.
3. Top with a “floater” (a shot of rum) if you’re trying to live your best life.
4. Garnish with a wedge of fresh pineapple and a maraschino cherry.


Man smiles while eating a bite of pasta

Gio Gutierrez’s go-to Summer dish is the Linguine Vongole at Carpaccio.

Gio Gutierrez / @ChatChowTV

Describe your favorite Summer dish from Carpaccio.
Fish and crustaceans are high in supply during summers in Italy, so the obvious choice here is the Linguine Vongole. Carpaccio’s version replaces the traditional spaghetti noodles with its flat, thin twin and sautés the clams in a coating of garlic and oil with a touch of chili. Pro tip for tomato-sauce lovers: you can order this same dish in a tomato sauce during the summer when fresh tomatoes are at their peak. So, whether you go classic or red, this dish screams Italian summer. The only thing that could beat it is the Mediterranean ocean view in the background. Afterthought: Don’t forego a scoop of fresh and bright, any-flavor gelato, available year-round but best for scorching Miami summer days.

What’s your favorite summer meal to make at home?
I love roasting fresh salmon filets in the oven with a coating of miso paste, fresh ginger and mirin. I throw chopped sweet potatoes in the same sheet pan and some summer green beans drizzled with sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds over everything. It’s a healthy, easy-to-make-easy-to-clean, 15-minute meal.

How would you describe your personal style?
Tipo Tropical! Which is fun, loud and usually always includes a bright pattern. Sometimes a top, sometimes a bottom, sometimes both. Colors matching, complementary, or head-to-literal-toe matching (yes, I have shoes in every color). Speaking of which, rocking mint at the moment…

What’s your favorite summer cocktail?
The Cubano Americano is somewhat of a personal invention of mine as it draws from my Cuban-American heritage and my learned appreciation of Italy’s Americano. Here, we combine the refreshing flavors of a classic Cuban Mojito with the slight bitterness of an Italian Americano to create a low-sugar, low-ABV sparkling drink that even boozy enthusiasts would appreciate.

1 oz Havana Club Añejo Blanco rum
3/4 oz Martini & Rossi Bianco vermouth
3/4 oz Lime juice
1/2 oz Mint syrup
Top with 3 ounces Sparkling Water

1. Combine all ingredients.
2. Pour over ice.
3. Top with 3 ounces sparkling water and enjoy.


Woman smiles with a variety of sushi plates

Dana Rozansky pictured at Makoto with the signature tuna crispy rice and spicy yellowtail roll.

Dana Rozansky / @Miami_FoodPorn

Describe your favorite Summer dish from your favorite Bal Harbour Shops restaurant.
Makoto always has my heart, and I could happily indulge in any of its menu items year-round…that said, nothing beats their amazing raw bar selection during the hot summer months. I dream of Makoto’s Hamachi ponzu, truffle salmon and toro tartare. They’re all refreshing, light dishes that always leave me satisfied without any guilt or food coma (a rare occurrence, in my line of work)!

You’ve made a career out of something you love. What would you say is the most challenging aspect of digital creation?
Content creation is often fun, creative, and glamorized, but it can also be challenging (which is the part many people don’t see)! It is an always-on industry that comes with a responsibility to consistently produce new material in a fast-paced environment. To be a well-respected content creator, you have to think on your toes, constantly evolve your craft, keep up with changing technology and trends and be ahead of the curve. I subscribe to the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach, and teach myself new tricks as I go, knowing I’ll continue to improve along the way.

What do you consider your greatest indulgence?
As far as food indulgences go, I’m a sucker for sweets, and often joke that I have a second stomach for dessert. When it comes to overall life indulgences, I love a good massage, bubble bath and curling up on the couch with a book (psychological thriller or bust).

What’s your favorite summer meal to make at home?
The only thing I make at home is a phone call to pick up food from my go-to restaurants. Seriously though, I often make myself a refreshing smoothie in the morning, but that’s about as much action as my kitchen ever sees. I prefer to leave the cooking to the professionals.


Man smiles standing beside a seafood tower

Nico Norena’s go-to Summer dish is Le Zoo’s Prestige Tower.

Nico Norena / @SucculentBite

Describe your favorite Summer Dish from your favorite Bal Harbour Shops restaurant.
Given the hot Miami summers, the perfect summer dish or experience for me has to be refreshing and extra succulent! The first dish that comes to mind at Bal Harbour is undoubtedly Le Zoo’s Prestige Tower. It’s loaded with fresh oysters (one of my personal favorites), clams, mussels, lobster (remember the importance of the succulent component?), King crab and of course caviar! Perfect to share on a hot summer day, and I like to pair it with a glass of white wine or rosé to really complete the experience.

What do you consider your greatest indulgence?
Indian food or a good slice of Basque Style cheesecake! If I could eat these two every single day, I most definitely would!

What’s your favorite meal to make at home?
I love preparing oven baked salmon and getting creative with the spices! I usually pair it with garlicky basmati rice and fresh grilled veggies. Now, when it comes to baking at home, getting creative with cheesecake flavors is definitely one of my virtues!

Congratulations on your new book, “The Succulent Bite.” With so many delicious recipes, we won’t ask for your favorite. Instead, tell us about the first recipe you developed for the book.
I developed my first recipe for the new book without knowing it. During the pandemic, I began cooking and baking at home. This led to me learning a great deal, as well as exploring and developing my own recipes and creations. The first one I came up with is a Nesquik crepe—a chocolate Nesquik crepe filled with melted white and dark chocolate, banana, Oreo cookies and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (this part is optional but highly recommended)! From here I moved to creating increasingly complex baked goods that has now brought us to the content you see on @succulentbite across platforms.


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