Marion: Mediterranean Fare and Bar Lab Cocktails in Brickell

Marion, a new Mediterranean bistro, located one block south of Mary Brickell Village, at 1111 SW First Ave., has set an opening date.

The restaurant will start serving dinner September 14 and will begin with full hours — 11 a.m. to 11  p.m. daily — Monday, October 5. It will also feature a market, a bakery, and an oyster bar. Although many Mediterranean restaurants are springing up around Miami, partners Mathieu Massa and Michael Ridard, best known for Baoli Miami, have personal experience with the region. Massa, who hails from Europe, says, "I am very excited to bring the flavors of my home in the South of France to my new home, Miami. For me, this is truly a labor of love, passion, and a dream come true." Though Baoli has a reputation for a party vibe, Marion is designed to give diners the experience of a lively yet welcoming French bistro.

The combination bistro/bakery will feature a 45-foot line of grills, a rotisserie, and a baking station where breads, madeleines, and desserts will be turned out daily. The decor will feature imported French lace curtains and authentic brasserie furniture from Drucker, a Parisian furniture manufacturer that's been supplying French bistros since 1885. 

The kitchen team is headed by executive chef Jean Paul Lourdes, along with pastry chef Christina Kaelberer. Lourdes has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, including three-star Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, and was chef de cuisine at three-star Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo. The chef, who hails from New Zealand, says he's looking forward to calling Miami home.

"I am very happy to be here and to adapt to Miami's rich culinary landscape. From Caribbean to South American cuisine, there is so much for me to learn along the way," he says. "Miami promotes a lifestyle similar to the Mediterranean, whereas it’s not just about food, but also about incorporating healthy living. At Marion, we work with simple, pure, and quality ingredients that translate into every dish we put forth. We let the ingredients shine. Everything we do is a product of love and passion for the Mediterranean way of life."

Seafood will be flown in from the coast of Spain and cooked over ancient Japanese charcoal or served raw on platters. Proteins from the land include milk-fed veal served with oregano, sprouting broccoli, and clementine-and-orange-glazed grilled quail.

Chef Lourdes, who is still finalizing the menu, has one bit of advice for Marion diners: Leave room for dessert. "One of the things I love the most is that we offer 28 desserts on the menu. There is something for everyone, ranging from the tropézienne tarte to strawberry marshmallows and blood orange pâté de fruit. There are many elements to the menu at Marion; not one is more special than the other."

What might be the biggest selling point for Brickell residents is the fact that they will have a world-class cocktail program in their neighborhood. Libations for Marion are created by Bar Lab's Gabe Orta and Elad Zvi. The collection of drinks, using fresh fruits and herbs, has been designed to pair with the food. Now Broken Shaker-caliber cocktails will be just a stone's throw from the high-rise bustle of Brickell. 

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