Dr. Vilma Biaggi is an elegant Argentinian doctor with a petite frame and a large appetite for life. By day she runs a successful practice in Aventura. By night this no-nonsense M.D. turns on the charm to make guests feel like family at her Cadet Hotel, a small boutique hotel that she's owned for the past 30 years.
But it is not until recently, after completing a six-year renovation project, that locals and tourists alike have opened their eyes to this unique property and gem of a restaurant, Pied a Terre, housed within its walls.
The term pied-à-terre is generally used when referring to someone's smaller second home and Biaggi has gone to great lengths to make it feel like an extension of her own. From the chargers painted by one of her patients to the linen curtains hand embroidered by a friend, every corner of this 30-seat dining room exudes her personality: comfortably elegant.
"The restaurant is an extension of my home," and the intimate setting set the perfect stage for Biaggi and manager Patrick Calvarese to woo you to linger and enjoy a classic menu best described as "eclectic Mediterranean".
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It is no secret that chef Andrew Balick left the restaurant just a few short weeks ago but Biaggi is not fazed. She smiles with excitement in her eyes and says, "If it's dark, do something about it and turn on the lights." And her flood lights are on as she opens her kitchen to a chef-in-residence program.
Biaggi is from a family of cooks and foodies so she's handpicked chefs she's met during her travels, inviting them to "come and contribute" in the kitchen for three months at a time. "The menu will essentially stay the same but with a different hand" as these chefs add their personal touches to the menu. The chefs will work closely with her current sous chefs and kitchen staff, "providing the quality our guests expect, but adding an element of surprise." The first chef to enter the arena is Andreina Vega, a Venezuelan-born, Peruvian-trained chef whose love for ceviches is surpassed only by her enthusiasm for this project.
Whether Chef Vega's dishes will wow guests as she steps into the kitchen is yet to be seen. But one thing is certain: Biaggi is enjoying her new adventure as she strives to put Pied a Terre on the culinary map and scratch that off her bucket list.