In the South Florida restaurant world, plenty of news is afoot for the fall, with big chefs making waves at major openings. Given the pedigree they’re bringing to these new openings, it’s fair to say that this season, the culinary gene pool will be ramped up a notch or two.
The big news on the shades-of-1990s-glamour front is the October 2 grand opening of Gianni’s at The Villa, Casa Casuarina. The former Gianni Versace mansion in Miami Beach is now an opulence-is-spoken-here boutique hotel, operated by Victor Hotels. Helmed by Chef Thomas Stewart, Gianni’s will feature fare—such dishes as La Spigola Branzino, a whole Mediterranean fish—that would have suited Versace back in his glamarama heyday.
Another iconic 1990s Miami Beach property, The Marlin Hotel, is recently renovated and touting the brand new Bazi, named after the pillars of destiny in Chinese astrology. Operated by Chef Michael Pirolo, his partner Jen Chaefsky, and Chef de Cuisine Brett Collier, the menu features such fare as “Lobster, Our Fickle Friend,” served with mild “happy” butter and spicy “angry” foam.
In the meantime, Stephen Starr’s new The Continental, fueled by the legacy of his 20-year-old Continental Restaurant + Martini Bar in Philadelphia, is all seasoned indie music and post-cool, neo-diner interiors set next to the Aloft South Beach. Matthew Oetting, formerly of Starr’s Caffe Storico in New York, is on board for a menu that includes dead-on Korean Fried Chicken.
To the north of Miami, in Broward County’s Hallandale Beach, sbe and the Related Group recently opened Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails (sbe’s efforts include an assortment of international SLS Hotels and Hyde Lounges). Smack dab on the beach, HBKC (pictured) stars chef Danny Elmaleh, known for his work with various Cleo restaurants and such dishes as Wasabi Tuna Tartare.
In Palm Beach, at the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, new Executive Chef Josh Thomsen—in conjunction with Chef de Cuisine Manlee Siu—is launching a new menu at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Angle. The menu includes such locally sourced dishes as organic Loxahatchee greens and hearts of palm, and Florida snapper in corn fennel cream. Thomsen, who has worked with Thomas Keller and Joachim Splichal, was formerly the executive chef at the renowned Agricola in Princeton, New Jersey.
Tom Austin is based in Miami and covers the Florida beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @TomAustin__.