As you step past the doorman and the red velvet rope, it feels like entering a time period when genuine class reigned supreme. The rich, wooden floors and the bright stained glass and mirrored walls surround you with a touch of elegance and class that is unparalleled in Miami. For over 70 years the Forge has provided service of utmost quality – a tradition that it continues to honor.
The Forge was originally a blacksmith’s forge in the 1920s (hence the name) where horses were fitted for metal shoes, and gates were cast for a number of the exquisite mansions sprouting up on South Beach at the time. In the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, the Forge transformed into a white tie and martini casino frequented by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and the infamous Rat Pack. From 1969 to the present, it has operated as an acclaimed restaurant offering ‘the creme de la creme’ of fine cuisine, rare wines from around the world, and a very diverse crowd.
Owner Shareef Malnik has overseen the Forge, located on 432 41st Street, since 1991, when he took over for his father. When Malnik, a UM and Miami Law graduate, isn’t perfecting the formula for success in the restaurant business, he’s racing sports cars in the Le Mans. Malnik desires to heighten the Forge experience by “offering the best food possible and by always trying to give the customers what they want.”
The Forge may seem particularly focused on catering to the rich and famous, and with good reason. Their A-list clientele includes celebrities ranging from artists like Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias, Madonna and Edward Norton to championed athletes like Sammy Sosa and Oscar De La Hoya. Malnik is delighted that the Forge lures stars of such caliber away from their cozy penthouses, but he also strives to please everyone who dines there.
“There are some people who come here often and can afford that, and there are people who save up money for the special occasion – both are an integral part of the Forge,” he says.
The Forge is not concerned about how much money a customer makes or spends; it simply wants to make them happy. On any given night, the crowd reflects the cosmopolitan aspects of this city.
About a decade ago, the Forge began a successful Wednesday night party that still attracts lively crowds. On this weeknight, the old fashioned bar turns into a crazily eclectic mix of people and music, with their DJ staple, Roberto Costa, spinning ’80s to current hip hop, and exotic music that will charm your inner belly dancer. The bar at the Forge will mix you any delicious concoction for around $10 – which is well worth it, considering the name-dropping quality.
After the party on Wednesday night, Forge regulars hop next door to Jimmy’z, the restaurant’s night club. Jimmy’z was formerly a cigar lounge called the Cuba Club, where Oliver Stone, Bono and Michael Jordan, all owned private humidors. After the cigar craze passed, Malnik collaborated with Regine, the legendary, club “Queen of the Night” to create Jimmy’z. Thursday nights are Brazilian nights, Fridays are Latin stylings, and Saturday is filled with a European house blend.
The Forge is open every night for dinner, and reservations are an unwritten law. If you go there on a Friday or Saturday night, you will get wrapped up in the rhythm and blues, as it bounces off the main dining room’s high ceilings.
Their “super steak” ($32.95) was voted the “#1 Steak in America,” by Wine Spectator magazine. Other original favorites include the “Forge chopped salad,” often requested via telephone for charity events with the words “just send over the salad.”. The individually baked chocolate souffle will make you moan with satisfaction.
The Forge boasts a robust wine cellar containing over 300,00 bottles, starting at $21 and up. This includes the world’s largest collection of Jeroboam, as well as numerous, classical rare wines. A note worthy addition is a bottle of Chateau Lafitte Rothschild, Pauillac from 1822 that is currently valued at $150,000.
This type of dining experience is a rarity in our fast-paced world. The elegant dining style mixed with a modern blend of culture and professionalism is what keeps the Forge at the pinnacle of Miami’s competitive restaurant industry.
Rachael Henrichsen can be reached at email@example.com