Simply watching Carla Pellegrino can be exhausting. Although diminutive, Pellegrino is nothing less than a force of nature.
A second after meeting, she asks if we've seen her dining room yet. Hearing no, she's off like a shot, ordering us to follow her at a near-run and gracefully avoiding a head-on collision with a server carrying a tray of bruschetta.
Pellegrino points out the intimate 50-seat dining area at her Touché Rooftop Restaurant and Lounge during last evening's sneak preview.
The dining room is an oasis of white inside E11even Miami, the 24/7 nightclub and nude cabaret that throbs below our feet. But Touché, located on the rooftop of the massive energy-filled club, feels like another planet altogether. A large outdoor lounge that seats about 220 people is divided into dozens of small seating areas and comes complete with a band shell, perfect for sipping prosecco and enjoying a balmy Miami evening. Walk through the lounge and you'll get to the above-mentioned dining room, where Pellegrino will serve traditional Italian dishes beginning April 3.
The chef says she's ready to tackle the seemingly impossible challenge of serving food for both her restaurant and the club, pointing out the small kitchen and taking us behind the scenes to the pristine prep area. She confides that she tried to move the walls, but that would have involved redoing the permitting process, so she'll make it work.
She tells us that providing food service to an establishment that never closes will be daunting. She has rented an apartment nearby and is prepared to live in Miami full-time for at least the first year while her sister takes charge of Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina, Pellegrino's restaurant in Henderson, Nevada. The chef turns on a megawatt smile and says everything will be fantastic. After just ten minutes with Pellegrino, we're certain the fierce yet feminine chef can do all that and more -- while wearing six-inch stilettos. Here's a preview of what's in store for Miami when Pellegrino and Touché open in only a month.
Touché's outdoor lounge (with retractable roof) seats about 220 guests.
A band shell provides great acoustics for live entertainment.
The intimate dining room is an oasis of cool white (with a megaview of Club Space next door).
A natural stone bar softly glows in the dining room.
The open kitchen makes a small space workable.
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A huge pot of giant shrimp marinates in a classic lemon butter sauce.
Touché Rooftop Restaurant and Lounge officially opens April 3. The restaurant will be open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Friday and Saturday until 3 a.m.