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He'll Make You Fall Madly In Love With Your Duds… Pescado Gets A Latin Remake

He'll Make You Fall Madly In Love With Your Duds


March 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

Juan-Carlos M. Cajigas-Berrios is fashion director of TOFF, one of Miami Beach's newest and hippest boutiques.

One look at Juan-Carlos M. Cajigas-Berríos and it's obvious: He's a fashion god.

On a recent Friday afternoon at TOFF, one of Miami Beach's newest and hippest boutiques, Cajigas-Berríos, the shop's fashion director, is draped in some of fellow South Beach fashionista Luis Morais' jewelry.

Admire the pieces and he makes his already apparent unique style even clearer. ''I'm always accessorized,'' he's quick to point out.

Cajigas-Berríos is one of those people who is so passionate about what he does, he can make his customers fall in love with fashion whether it's a pair of white denim pants by Christopher Deane or a Jill Stuart top.

TOFF -- British slang for a fashionable member of the upper classes -- seems the perfect place for him to work. Just ask Mariola Figueroa, a Miamian-turned-New York transplant, who still shops regularly at TOFF during her frequent visits to South Beach.

''Juan Carlos has it,'' she says.

Together with TOFF owner Claudia Estrada, an Ecuadorian designer who had studied fashion design at what is now Miami International University, Cajigas-Berríos, who also graduated from there, has worked to bring a perfect mix of designers to TOFF.

Estrada chooses the clothing and Cajigas-Berríos puts it together. When she began planning to launch the store, which opened in November, she thought of doing it all herself. But she quickly realized she needed an extra stylish head to help get the job done, so she hired Cajigas-Berríos.

''I love him because he had experience in every aspect of fashion and merchandising,'' Estrada says.

Cajigas-Berríos had worked as a fashion show producer, freelance stylist and spent two years working as a make-up artist. Growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he helped his family in their antique and jewelry businesses there and in Palm Beach. As a teenager he was the kid who lent a hand to all his girlfriends in designing the perfect quinceañera dresses.

''I helped them create the image they were trying to go for,'' he quips.

Eventually, Cajigas-Berríos decided to study fashion at Miami International University and Parsons School of Design.

But he sees helping Estrada launch TOFF as his best work yet. The shop, a contemporary sportswear boutique, carries everything from hip ready-to-wear clothing and lingerie to shoes and accessories.

''His style is really modern, but classic,'' Estrada says. ``That's really TOFF.''

TOFF is located in The Shoppes at West Avenue, 959 West Ave., Suite Five in Miami Beach. For more information, call 305-535-0879.

Pescado Gets A Latin Remake


March 18, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

It's not yet two years old, but the stunning, upscale Pescado has undergone a major makeover. The look of the enormous, Indian-inspired dining room is virtually unchanged, but new chef Sean Bernal, a Puerto Rico native most recently at Tambo, has transformed the Asian-dominated menu into an ode to all things Latin and Caribbean.

The empanada sampler brings three golden pillows of dough filled with spicy ground beef reminiscent of picadillo, an oddly grayish and off-putting tuna and, last, guava and goat cheese that's more dessert than appetizer.

Crab and lobster cake with tropical fruit ceviche is more successful thanks to plentiful shellfish, perfect timing in the pan and a fine, contrasting trio of passion fruit, cilantro and red chile sauces.

Salads -- mixed baby greens and Caesar -- are large, fresh and full of tasty accents like queso blanco and homemade croutons. The sushi menu is gone (thankfully), but there's ceviche, tuna tiradito and fresh-shucked oysters for lovers of raw seafood.

Pan-seared mahi mahi is a fantastic entree choice. (Be aware: The accompanying root vegetable hash has a spicy kick.) So, too, the red snapper over ginger-tinged, wilted spinach and crispy leeks. Miso-marinated sea bass, a menu holdover served on chilled sesame noodle salad, was too good to lose.

A grilled, 12-ounce New York strip steak was seared perfectly, with a minerally crust and juicy interior.

You can't go wrong with dense chocolate Jamaican rum cake with sweet milk chocolate chips and an even darker chocolate sauce.

This is one makeover that seems to have done wonders.

Place: Pescado.

Address: 320 San Lorenzo Ave. (Village of Merrick Park), Coral Gables.

Rating: Very Good.

Contact: 305-443-3474,

Hours: From 11:30 a.m. daily; till 10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Prices: Starters $10-$18, entrees $17-$28, desserts $7.50.

FYI: Full bar. Reservations suggested. Moderately priced wine. Credit cards: AX, DC, MC, VS.

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