Chefs

Cleo Opens Friday in SoBe: Chef Danny Elmaleh on His Mediterranean Concept

This Friday, the Redbury Hotel South Beach will open the doors to Cleo, a Mediterranean eatery with an emphasis on small shared plates. Cleo is taking over the space formerly occupied by the Italian restaurant Lorenzo, which closed after less than a year in business.

Expect a raw bar, a selection of salads, Laffa bread (a thick, soft flatbread) and shared plates of meats, seafood and vegetables. This will be the third Cleo. The original opened at the Redbury in Los Angeles in 2010, followed by a Vegas location in earlier this year inside the SLS Hotel. The restaurant will serve daily dinner.

Short Order was able to catch up with Cleo's founder and executive chef Danny Elmaleh via email to gain some intel on his new concept.

See also: Conant Dishes on the Opening of Corsair

New Times: What made you decide to open a Cleo in South Beach at this particular time?

Danny Elmaleh: Having spent so much time in South Beach, I've been playing with the idea of a Miami inspired Cleo menu for a few years. The vibrant collage of cultures and cuisines in Miami is very reflective of everything Cleo stands for and it's brought an exciting energy and flavor to our menu for South Beach.

You're part Japanese, part Moroccan. How does your background influence your cuisine?

I definitely take inspiration from my childhood as I have lived all around the world and experienced many different cuisines. I try to blend many different cultures into my menus, ultimately presenting light and fresh offerings that feature unique elements.

What kind of vibe will Cleo South Beach have? Will it have a club atmosphere?

Cleo South Beach will be lively and inviting, offering an atmosphere perfect for celebrating and enjoying a meal with good friends and family. Our décor complements the relaxed environment, and our menu offers many shared dishes so that the table feels abundant at all times.

What are some of the ways that Cleo South Beach will differ from the two other locations?

Miami will have some new menu items inspired by the local fare and will inevitably offer that great Miami energy you simply can't create anywhere else!

Is there a dish in particular you're excited about unveiling at the South Beach location?

I am very excited about the Jerusalem hummus. This is a traditional dish from Isreal that I feel will be well received in Miami. The dish includes chicken offal shwarma laid overtop of traditional hummus with olives and is served with Laffa. It's the perfect combination of smokey, earthy and flavorful.

Cleo at the Redbury South Beach. 1776 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-534-253; sbe.com.

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Valeria Nekhim was born in the Ukraine and raised in Montreal. She has lived in Manhattan and Miami. Her favorite part of food writing is learning the stories of chefs and restaurateurs.