By Lisa Petrillo

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Welcome to Upland! It’s the second outpost of the popular New York City restaurant – recently opened in the South of Fifth neighborhood on Miami Beach.

Named for Chef Justin Smillie’s hometown in Southern California, Upland is about bringing the sunshine inside.

“We wanted it to feel sunny and happy. There’s a lot of leather banquets very plush and light,” Smillie told CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo. “We bring the sunshine with us with about 57 cases of lemons we preserved and installed and brined.”

At Upland, Smillie pays tribute to his culinary mentors and inspirations by offering dishes that showcase his California roots.

“There’s a lot of beautiful roasted veggies. We’re doing pasta, homemade pizza dough. The most significant thing we’re doing between here and New York City is the live fire,” said Smillie.

The food at this charming eatery is locally sourced and has a South Florida spin.

“Our menu is seafood focused – a whole roasted Branzino flies out of here so does the whole roasted salmon,” said Smillie.

“What makes Upland special is we carry a spirituality and an ethos in our cooking that’s translatable for multiple markets,” said Smillie.

“It’s basically raw shaved snapper. It’s a margarita on a plate. It’s fresh key limes with basil, sugar, cilantro and a little tequila," said Chef Smillie with Upland Restaurant. (Source: CBS4)

“It’s basically raw shaved snapper. It’s a margarita on a plate. It’s fresh key limes with basil, sugar, cilantro and a little tequila,” said Chef Smillie with Upland Restaurant. (Source: CBS4)

Back in the kitchen while Chef Smillie prepared Petrillo’s pasta, another chef was fine tuning the drunken snapper.

“It’s basically raw shaved snapper. It’s a margarita on a plate. It’s fresh key limes with basil, sugar, cilantro and a little tequila,” said Smillie.

“A cocktail plate right here,” said Petrillo while tasting the dish. “The fish is so fresh and light and  the sauce on top is tropical with  a little bit of fun!”

Next up was the Little Gem Salad.  It’s avocado, cucumber, ricotta and walnut vinaigrette.

“The cucumber and lettuce is dressed perfectly. It’s a refreshing, perfect South Florida salad,” said Petrillo.

The Little Gem Salad at Upland Restaurant in Miami Beach has avocado, cucumber, ricotta and walnut vinaigrette. (Source: CBS4)

The Little Gem Salad at Upland Restaurant in Miami Beach has avocado, cucumber, ricotta and walnut vinaigrette. (Source: CBS4)

Also on the menu, are the wood-fired Florida Prawns with olive oil and lemon.

“The actual meat of the prawn is so sweet but there’s also a savory side. It’s the perfect blend. I like this better than lobster. I really do,” Petrillo said.

And finally, the Bucatini Cacio E Pepe, made with Pecorino Romano, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper.

“So chef said it best. It’s a gourmet ‘mac and cheese.’ It has a kick with the pepper. It’s  like a warm hug and the pasta is cooked perfectly. I can’t imagine anyone not liking this pasta,” said Petrillo.

Upland is open 7 days a week for lunch, dinner, and brunch on the weekends. Click here for more information.

CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo would love to hear from you. Please send us a suggestion at tasteofthetown@cbs.com. You can also contact Lisa through Twitter or Facebook

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