Darwin Evolutionary Cuisine offers Amazonian dishes and an intimate, family-run atmosphere.
Darwin Santa Maria is nothing if not fond of exploring new ideas. Whether through food or beer, the local chef, brewer and restaurateur is always looking for new opportunities.
His newest endeavor, Darwin Evolutionary Cuisine, opens July 10. Located at 4141 S. Tamiami Trail, the restaurant embodies his outlook.
“I like to reinvent myself,” says Santa Maria. “From flavor to flavor and from dish to dish, I like to always be trying new things. I like to connect with people through my food and by exploring the flavors of my culture.”
Darwin Evolutionary Cuisine, a 2,400-square-foot, 100-seat full-service restaurant, will continue where he left off with CeviChela, his recently closed Siesta Key project. Here, he’ll offer Peruvian dishes, for which he’s best known, as well as Amazonian food — whole fish, dishes wrapped in plantain leaves and other small plates — as well as Hawaiian dishes, like poke.
“Palate-wise, I opened things up a lot,” he says. “It’s more global than just Peruvian dishes. I missed having a full-service restaurant; I missed creating new specials.”
Inside, the restaurant offers a cozy Amazonian theme, complete with a chef’s table and open kitchen, branded waterfall, hanging rope accents, plants and a wall mural depicting elements of Amazonian culture.
Santa Maria says he plans to continue offering his own craft beer, and the private tasting room will play host to special bottle releases and wine dinners.
The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Santa Maria says he looks forward to working closely with his wife, Lellys.
“It hasn’t been just me and my wife since the Selva (Grill) days,” he says. “I wanted to go back to that family restaurant atmosphere. I’m excited to open and keep telling my story through food.”