While Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler is the team’s caffeine connoisseur with Big Face Coffee, Kelly Olynyk has the franchise covered when it comes to navigating through a city’s best food options while playing at home in South Beach or on the road during away games.
The 29-year-old power forward, who bypassed free agency to exercise his $12.6 million player option for the 2020-2021 season with the Heat, takes his meals very seriously, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic when a restaurant’s safety precautions must meet the NBA’s standards for best dining practices.
In an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Olynyk offered his brutally honest reviews on the best places to grab dinner during the NBA season, admitting that the food itself is not always the main focal point of the meal.
“Some food is definitely atmosphere driven or presentation driven,” Olynyk said. “A lot of restaurants, they are about the ambience atmosphere, so that adds to it. I think a five-star meal in a restaurant with ambience, it definitely adds to the experience. So where it’s served in an empty banquet room, it’s not the same.”
In Miami, only five restaurants received the NBA’s seal of approval: Prime 112, Prime Italian, Red Rooster Overtown, Moxie’s, and Zuma. As per league guidelines amid COVID-19, restaurants must offer outdoor or separate-space dining. Restaurant staff must be masked and follow social distance protocols during dining service, as well.
One of Olynyk’s top pick? Prime 112. “I would say Prime is worth five stars. Obviously, it’s a staple of Miami. It’s one of the top steakhouses. If you’re looking for a great atmosphere, with great food, it’s definitely a great place. The other thing about Prime that is unbelievable, is their sides are huge.”
“Depending on who you are, it could be considered an expensive dinner, but you’re getting your money’s worth,” he continued. “The portions are plentiful. You’re not going to go hungry there and you won’t be disappointed. I’ve been a bunch. I love Prime.”
Prime Italian was given 4.5 stars because “I’m not a huge Italian person,” Olynyk said, but notes that the massive portions can gives the average person meals for days. “I went with someone and they ordered a chicken parm and it was literally a whole chicken. It’s good.”
Zuma also earned a five-star rating from Olynyk, who says it’s definitely one of the best sushi restaurants in Miami. “I’m a huge sushi guy,” he said. “I’ve always eaten sushi. It’s a little bit more on the expensive side, especially if you’re trying to feed 7 feet. But they do have a brunch on Saturdays and Sundays that’s amazing.”
Olynyk also approves of Zuma’s atmosphere. “Presentation is great and it’s got a good vibe, right on the river, so you see boats go buy. I’ll go post-practice. There’s two seatings, so sometimes we’ll get out of practice and go over there for the 2 o’clock seating. It’s like $95, but if you are a sushi eater, you can eat $90 worth of sushi [at a non-buffet restaurant] on your own.”
Olynyk Is Way Tougher on Other NBA City’s Approved Restaurants
The fourth-year Heat player was a bit tougher on the restaurants in other NBA cities. In Atlanta, Olynyk called STK Steakhouse “always something you can fall back on,” and as for the Morton’s Steakhouse in Cleveland, “I mean, it’s not bad. It’s next to the hotel we stay at. So that makes it accessible.”
Olynyk said he “wasn’t blown away” by Carnevor in Milwaukee, but “actually liked” Rooster’s Wood Fired Kitchen in Charlotte. The former Celtics players also reviewed some of Boston’s top spots. While he’s medium about chain restaurants such as Del Friscos, he said Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse has one of the best burgers in town and loves Strega Italiano.
“Strega is awesome, one of the favorite restaurants in Boston. When I first got there, it was like one of the first restaurants Rajon Rondo took me to.”
Olynyk Has His Own Cooking Show on YouTube Called ‘Kellz’ Kitchen’
Olynyk doesn’t just pride himself on being a restaurant critic, the Canadian born athlete can whip up his epicurean creations in the kitchen. The eight-year NBA veteran even started his own cooking show on YouTube last year, Kellz’ Kitchen, which is promoted on Miami Heat’s official YouTube channel.
Not only does Olynyk cook up steak and barbacoa, but he also instructs viewers on how to make pad thai and the perfect appetizer platter.