The best surprises are the ones you don’t see coming, like finding a $100 bill on the sidewalk or discovering you’re still logged in to all the streaming accounts from that friend of a friend who crashed on your couch six months ago. Pinch is that kind of surprise too - because nothing about this casual Upper East Side spot really hints at just how good the food is.
It’s hard to predict what you’re about to eat from a quick glance at Pinch. The building looks like it could be anything from a boutique flower shop to a yoga studio or some combination of both, which might actually be a great business idea. Inside, there’s no national flag hanging on the wall or murals of sea creatures in either of the small dining rooms or over the bar. This is a good thing because trying to sum up Pinch’s menu in an aesthetic would lead to a very confusing dining room, which this place thankfully does not have.
Pinch is open for lunch, dinner, and a very good weekend brunch, and serves a random selection of mostly small plates heavy on seafood and vegetables, along with a handful of larger steak and chicken dishes. There are circular croquetas, spicy brussels sprouts, a very good burger, and really nothing that makes us pull out our phone to Google what the hell we just ordered. What makes Pinch’s food so special is that it’s pretty much unanimously great, and to have such a wide variety of simple dishes done this well is shockingly rare.
The gambas al ajillo is exactly what it should be: perfect shrimp sitting in a bowl of garlic and oil. The wild calamar is sliced into thin strips with a little lemon and olive oil, and every bite from the tail to the crispy tentacles is somehow both chewy and tender. You could very easily have a wonderful meal here sticking to the small plates, but if you are even remotely in the mood for a steak, it’s worth getting the wagyu vacio. The 10-ounce cut is smoked first, then seared so it has the perfect ratio of beef and fat and char and just a hint of smokiness, like a campfire that’s still burning the morning after you wake up.
You could also come to Pinch in pajamas and receive, at most, only a teaspoon of judgement. There are very few spots where this is possible while also eating food this good - just like it’s not every day you find money on the ground or get to finally watch The Handmaid’s Tale for free. But you (not fate or saved passwords) get to decide how often you eat here. And since they’re open every day except Monday, it should be happening a lot.
The filling inside these little fried balls rotates, but even if you order them on a regular ham day, you’ll still eat every single one.
You can get this burger during brunch and lunch, but it’s not always available for dinner, which is kind of sad. This great burger has caramelized onions, swiss cheese, a soft brioche bun, and is exactly what you want if you’ve spent all day thinking about a burger. It’s a little messy, so hoard any unused napkins.
Eat enough fried calamari rings and you’ll forget what a squid actually looks like. Here though, it’s sliced from tail to tentacles, and presented in a way that kind of reminds us of anatomy class - but delicious and not boring and we would happily experience it again.
If the thought of buttery, garlicky shrimp does not excite you, skip this. Then check your pulse to make sure you’re still alive.
First, the wagyu is smoked, then it’s seared, then it’s put on a plate with french fries and chimichurri, and then it’s gone. Because you ate it all. Because this is one of the best steaks you can eat in Miami.