Villa Azur: Celeb-Pet Project or Legitimate Kitchen? (Photos)

Villa Azur Interior Rendering 2.jpg
Villa Azur
An interior rendering of Villa Azur, coming in March.
There's been a bit of speculation about whether or not Halle Berry's genetically gifted plus one, actor Olivier Martinez, is simply peddling a pet-project with his celebrity status, or creating a restaurant that will have more than a pretty face in front of it. Villa Azur (309 23rd Street, Miami Beach) is set to open on Miami Beach in March, with a theme reminiscent of a lounge in Cannes or Saint-Tropez. Now anyone who has traveled extensively in the South of France knows that restaurants are either small spots familiar only to locals that serve amazing food, or big players for tourists that charge fifty Euros for steak frites (although there are a few Michelin 2 and 3 star restaurants thrown in, so they do have that on us.) Which do we think Villa Azur is going to be?

The French actor has surrounded himself with a local team of partners that should help to temper any unrealistic expectations about the Miami market. Nightlife arbiter Michael Martin Miami (Opium Group, Mondrian, LIV, Wall at the W) and restaurateur Jean-Philippe Bernard are combining forces to create a Riviera villa mystique, complete with crystal chandeliers and a François Frossard designed interior in his signature glam-meets-modern style.

The renderings certainly make the place look pretty, but naturally, before making mention of the restaurant, we needed to see a preview of the food. The menu is nowhere near set in stone, so we can't confirm pricing as of now, but we will say that the offerings stay true to Mediterranean roots, with Executive Chef Mickael Bensa offering a range of plates that cross at the intersection of Italian and French.

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Villa Azur
Mignon de Veau - veal stuffed with artichokes, tomato confit and scamorzza cheese.
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Villa Azur
Galletto au Four - roasted Cornish hen, with green olives and rosemary.
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Villa Azur
St Jacques Sanfranees - seared scallops, with a creamed leek fondue, boraggine poussee and saffron sauce.
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Villa Azur
Rigatoni aux Morilles - rigatoni with fresh morel mushrooms.
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Villa Azur
Pomme de Terre Vapeur - steamed potatoes with cream and black truffles.
Something tells us this hot spot will most definitely be about the après dinner scene, and if you are more interested in celeb-hunting, you'll probably need to sneak into the private dining room known as "La Cave d'Azur," outfitted as a wine cellar to house the approximately 200 labels ranging from boutique French, Italian and Spanish wineries, to the highest level of Grand Cru Classé, as well as a few domestics thrown in from the West Coast.

They plan to be open for dinner everyday starting at 7 p.m., and for brunch every Saturday starting at noon.

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2 comments
Des B
Des B

Despite of Villa Azur restaurant decoration, the Service is the WORST I ever encountered in a SouthEast Florida restaurant.  The French male waiter was rude, no manners, did not speak English properly, had no attention to detail, they were getting the plates out of your table when we were not even finished with appetizers.  Really, an arrogant attitude and approach from the waiter.  When they did not know about a question they will invent the answer without knowledge of what they were saying.  It seems the waiter was trying to be exclusive and sophisticated but no training, no education nor glamour. We were 6 people and for two of us, it was our birthday and the restaurant knew it since we made the reservation.  Well, no special attention to our birthday what so ever, not even a candle in any of the 6 desserts we ordered.  The restaurant is extremely expensive $$$$, over $1100 bill for 6 people and they charged a flat 18% for service eventhough service was "VERY POOR".  The food was average not great not even close to its price level.  Then, to close the night, they asked us to leave the table when we were just done with our desserts instead of asking us for coffee.  It was actually a repugnant experience and we left a compliant to the General Manager directly at their front reception.

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