Behind the project are French-born Greg Galy and his wife Marine. A year and a half ago, the couple moved to Miami with the goal of opening a restaurant. Greg quit his position as president of the chain Fig & Olive, and Marine left a career in brand and luxury perfume development. Married for almost seven years, they have two sons. Had they had a daughter, she would have been named Mila. Instead, they gave their first restaurant the name.
A rooftop spot, Mila is an exciting addition to Lincoln Road. The South Beach shopping and dining mecca has recently seen veterans such as SushiSamba, Baires Grill, and Rosa Mexicano succumb to skyrocketing rents of about $300 per square foot. To recapture its allure, lost to neighborhoods such as Brickell and Wynwood, the landmark pedestrian mall's dining scene has been expanded to include the food halls Time Out Market Miami and the Lincoln Eatery. In addition to Mila, three other eateries — Lobster Shack, Ole Ole Steakhouse, and Gelato Go — are expected to open this year.
"We became aware of the renewal of Lincoln Road — the attempt to bring back locals and build the community around it again — and felt there couldn't be a better place to set up shop," Marine says.
For Mila's food menu, Marine says their native French cuisine is a reference point, but they also wanted to blend traditional dishes with other Mediterranean food cultures, such as Italy and Greece, and fuse it with the Japanese flavors they love most.
His Asian- and Mediterranean-inspired list of entrées includes specialty dishes such as togarashi Japanese bouillabaisse, served with sansho-sesame croutons ($24), and Colorado rack of lamb accompanied by roasted heirloom carrots and shiso-macadamia pesto ($48). Sushi and nigiri are served à la carte or as an omakase experience: Eight pieces of nigiri and one maki cost $35, and a platter of 14 pieces of sashimi runs $45.
Mila's sweet endings follow the same East-meets-West theme. Options include spiced-poached pineapple — coated in saffron espuma and pecan crumble and paired with tofu ice cream ($13) — and a passionfruit-key lime tarte, made with graham biscuit and kaffir lime ganache ($13).
The restaurant is designed to be a peaceful space to enjoy a meal. "Besides the food," Marine says, "we really tried to create something unique in terms of inspiring our guests: a place to slow down, disconnect from the outside world, and evoke that very happy, content feeling you get when you travel."
Located atop the historic 800 Lincoln Road building, which originally housed a Burdines flagship in 1938 and later housed ArtCenter/South Florida, the restaurant measures 13,000 square feet and includes a 150-seat, earth-toned dining room with an open kitchen and a bar decorated with artistic wood pieces, teardrop lighting, and a sculptured mural by artist Etienne Moyat.
The breezy terrace offers room for 100 guests to lounge around a 3,000-square-foot water feature. Guests sitting in front of the bar, named V by Mila, can watch mixologists Jennifer Le Nechet and Mido Yahi prepare an intriguing menu of signature cocktails, including the Buena Onda, made with Plantation original dark rum, Pedro Ximenez sherry, violet liqueur, and orange blossom ($15); and the Aegean Fizz, which combines Fos mastiha, fino sherry, tonic, and green olive ($14).
Mila. 800 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 786-706-0744; milarestaurant.com. Sunday through Wednesday 6 to 11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight.