Tom Aviv, Masterchef Israel Champion, Brings His American Venture to Miami

The Israeli sensation’s restaurant offers an innovative menu and retro vibe that transports guests to Tel Aviv in the 70s.

Tom Aviv, an acclaimed chef and restaurateur, is introducing his unique culinary style and innovative recipes to South Florida with the launch of his new concept, Branja. Located in Miami’s Upper Buena Vista, the restaurant offers an elevated dining experience that reflects Aviv’s Israeli heritage. Widely recognized for his flavorful and imaginative cuisine, the restaurant’s atmosphere involves a cultural journey offering carefully curated details that include warm pastel colors, a retro design, and a towering outdoor mural by Tel Aviv-based artist Paul Curran that depicts the city’s vibrant neighborhoods and bustling markets. The interior and exterior design of Branja is a fusion of Tel Aviv’s iconic indoor-outdoor train station structure, a cathedral and ancient synagogue seating.

Aviv was born and raised in Tel Aviv and won MasterChef Israel in 2016. Even though Aviv didn’t have any formal culinary training, he quickly became famous for his imaginative use of flavors and sensational persona. He has opened several unique restaurant concepts in Israel and Morocco over the past six years, all of which have become popular dining spots. Aviv started with Coco Bambino, an energetic eatery in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market that served Israeli dishes with an Italian twist, was an instant hit. After the success of his first venture, Aviv launched Fat Cow, named TimeOut’s “Best Hamburger in Tel Aviv,” for three years in a row.

“Miami’s melting pot of cultures and cuisines is much like my own culinary inspirations, which combine the vibrant flavors of my upbringing in Israel with my travels across the globe,” Aviv says. “With Branja being my first restaurant in the United States, I am excited to introduce this unique taste and create a memorable dining experience. The name Branja is Hebrew slang, originating from the word for tree branch, that translates to ’a circle of friends.’ Branja’s small outdoor terrace and 12-seat Chef’s Table experience offer an exclusive setting to share plates and explore new flavors.”

Branja is situated in the Upper Buena Vista retail sanctuary. Its 3,000-square-foot space provides guests a unique experience at the 12-seat Chef’s Table, where they can watch Aviv and his team create culinary art in the open-concept kitchen. The indoor portion of the space features copper accents and a retro Miami vibe. One of the highlights of the space is the iconic bar from the Delano Hotel’s Florida Room, which has been repurposed as the Chef’s Table.

The restaurant space is large enough to seat 150 guests comfortably and features a charming, covered outdoor design that adds to the idyllic atmosphere. Curran’s stunning 45-foot-tall mural greets visitors with its retro patterns and vibrant colors, which are inspired by the bustling city of Tel Aviv. The decor also features unique fixtures, from hand-crafted terrazzo-top tables to upcycled 1970s cutlery and pastel ceramic plates, all adding to the one-of-a-kind dining experience. And for a touch of history, guests can sit on reclaimed synagogue benches, adding to the charm and character of the space.

Branja is located at 5010 NE 2nd Ave. in Miami and is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, please call 786-765-5555 or visit Branjamiami.com.

(Photo Credit: Branja)

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.