CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) — Public Square is a contemporary American grill located in Coral Gables near South Miami.

It is the 8th restaurant concept from The Grove Bay Hospitality Group which includes Stubborn Seed, Stiltsville, Red Rooster Overtown and more.

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Co-founders Francesco Balli and Ignacio Garcia-Menocal, who have been friends since their Christopher Columbus High School days, created this new concept and space from what was once Shula’s 347 Grill.

“We opened in 2010 under Shula’s 347 Grill and then our 10-year franchise agreement was up last June. That was the time to do our own thing and break away from the franchise and that’s how this came along,” said Garcia-Menocal.

That meant lightening up the entire restaurant beginning with the bar.

“The bar is a focal point there we have about 35 seats at the bar. It’s the largest bar in South Miami and just brightening up that granite countertop that’s a huge game changer,” said Balli.

A game changer that both men say has made this spot the new “Cheers”.

“So, at the end of the day you want people to come in where everyone knows your name?” asked CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo giggling.

“Yes, we’re not just providing great service, great food and great service but it’s a place where our guests can come and socialize with their friends and neighbors as well,” Garcia-Menocal said.

The 5,700 square foot restaurant has dining space inside and out.

Public Square’s 20-ounce bone in ribeye (CBS4)

The menu focuses on contemporary American cuisine, including 6 cuts of grill-to-order steaks, which is where Petrillo and Balli began their tasting with the 20-ounce bone in ribeye.

“It’s a melt in your mouth steak.  It is perfectly cooked, and the ribeye is a fatty piece of steak,” described Petrillo. “It’s my favorite,” said Balli. “It’s juicy, flavorful and that’s a big steak!” said Petrillo laughing.

Don’t forget the sides, like the wonderful whipped and marvelous mashed potatoes or the crispy onion rings, which are sprinkled with sweet chili sauce and sesame seeds.

“Honestly one of the best onion rings I’ve ever had. It’s fantastic,” said Petrillo.

Public Square’s spicy tuna crispy rice with chili oil and scallions. (CBS4)

They munch on the top selling spicy tuna crispy rice with chili oil and scallions. Then it’s pan seared diver scallops with crispy serrano ham, corn, and lentil salsa.


“I would’ve never thought to pair scallops with serrano ham, it really does bring in a little bit of that salt and the tender smoothness of the scallop,” said Petrillo.

Public Square’s pan seared diver scallops with crispy serrano ham, corn, and lentil salsa (CBS4)

They end on filet mignon bites which are tender pieces of filet mignon wrapped in applewood bacon and served over a sweet plantain purée.

“You get the crispiness of the bacon; you get the savory and saltiness of the meat and the purée which is a little sweet,” said Balli.

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Public Square’s filet mignon wrapped in applewood bacon and served over a sweet plantain purée. (CBS4)

“I don’t even need to say anything, you took my job and did a great job,” said Petrillo laughing.

Public Square is open seven nights a week for dinner. It’s open for lunch Monday through Friday and Sunday brunch. Click here for more.

If you want to try the Diver Scallops with Beluga Lentil Salad. Here’s the recipe.

Serves 4

Prep Time – 45 minutes

Ingredients:  Beluga Lentil Salad

  • 1 cup dry Beluga Lentils (can substitute for regular lentils)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sweet corn
  • ½ oz white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ red onion – fine dice
  • ½ red bell pepper – fine dice
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 oz Extra virgin olive oil

Bring water and beluga lentils to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 35 minutes or until lentils are al dente.

Drain using a colander and let chill in a mixing bowl.

Once Lentils are chilled mix in the remaining ingredients, and let marinate for about 1 hour, up to 24 hours.

Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

  • 1 can roasted red peppers; juice removed.
  • ½ oz White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp White sugar
  • 1 oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a blender place all ingredients and blend at high speed until a smooth puree is formed. Place in a bowl

Seared Scallops

  • Fresh Scallops – 1 lb.
  • Kosher Salt – 1 tsp
  • Black Pepper – ½ tsp
  • Butter – 2 oz
  • Vegetable Oil – 1 oz

Pat scallops dry, then season with Salt and Pepper on each side

In a sauté pan over high heat add oil and butter, add scallops once oil begins to “ripple” sear on each side for about 2 mins.  Turning only one side to develop a nice crust.  Remove from pan and set aside.

*For best results do not use a non-stick pan.

 Crispy Serrano Ham

4 oz. Thinly Sliced Serrano Ham (you can substitute for prosciutto)

In a sauté pan with a little vegetable oil, fry ham until crispy, remove from pan and drain on paper towel lined plate.

To Plate

On plate, place the lentil salad in the middle of the plate and top with the hot scallops.  Garnish with plate with the roasted pepper coulis and top with crispy ham.

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Lisa Petrillo