June 21, 2017

BRIAN BOWDEN/Free Press
Chef Bernal cooks up some wizardry in the kitchen.

BRIAN BOWDEN/Free Press Chef Bernal cooks up some wizardry in the kitchen.

ISLAMORADA — Just a month into it, executive chef Nassuby Bernal seems content with the path his new restaurant is on. He purposely opened during the summer — the usual slow period in the Florida Keys — so he would have time to work out all the kinks before tourist season hits.

And he’s doing just that, but he hopes the local community will give the eatery a try in the meantime.

Bernal runs Just the Thing Global Bistro on Upper Matecumbe Key, 80925 Overseas Highway.

“Welcome to your house,” Bernal says when he greets guests at the restaurant. “You’re in charge here.”

The restaurant opened on June 6, just 35 days after a complete interior overhaul. Part of that work included adding exterior seating for patrons to eat and enjoy the weather, if it’s not too hot. The restaurant sits roughly 70 total and has a separate room for private parties.

Bernal is no slouch in the kitchen and he said thanks to his extensive food background from around the globe, which began during high school in his home country of Venezuela, his restaurant can offer many unique tastes.

Bernal, 47, has two culinary degrees and 32 years in the business. He credits a lot of his expertise to his brother Edward Yamid Zambrano and fellow chef Antonio Mendoza. He has cooked for government agencies, corporations, high-profile celebrities and politicians, and more.

Bernal highlighted some of his favorite items on the menu. They included the roast pork bites appetizer (at $12), which is slow-cooked roast pork with yuca with mojo sauce. The cool caprese salad (at $15), deep-fried green tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella, mixed baby heirloom tomatoes and pesto sauce with balsamic glaze. The jacomo monster burger entrée (at $21) features two beef patties injected with cheese and topped with house bacon, ham, a fried egg, lettuce, tomato, onion, shredded plantain, avocado and slaw.

“For what you spend here, you get a lot,” Bernal said. “It’s a real full meal.”

One of Bernal’s employees said her go-to item is the quesadilla (at $12). Patrons get their choice of chicken, steak, shrimp or fish and each comes with veggies, sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo.

Bernal added that all his meats are smoked in-house daily, too.

The menu has 37 food selections, including six desserts. For a full menu, visit hireachefforanite.com.

The restaurant also offers around 20 red/white wines and 25 beers, including two from the Florida Keys Brewing Co., to pair with meals.

Bernal pledges to provide good food, drinks and service.

“This is the new spot in town, so come check us out,” Bernal said. “You won’t be disappointed.”

Restaurant hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Bernal said the bistro will never turn away a customer, even those that show up a minute before closing time.

Aside from the restaurant, Bernal runs Hire a Chef for a Nite, a private chef business. For more information on both, visit the website above or call 305-517-6525. The bistro can be found on Facebook as well.

bbowden@keysnews.com