Villa Azur: Celeb-Pet Project or Legitimate Kitchen? (Photos)

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There's been a bit of speculation about whether or not Halle Berry's genetically gifted plus one, actor Olivier Martinez, is simply peddling a pet-project with his celebrity status, or creating a restaurant that will have more than a pretty face in front of it. Villa Azur (309 23rd Street, Miami Beach) is set to open on Miami Beach in March, with a theme reminiscent of a lounge in Cannes or Saint-Tropez. Now anyone who has traveled extensively in the South of France knows that restaurants are either small spots familiar only to locals that serve amazing food, or big players for tourists that charge fifty Euros for steak frites (although there are a few Michelin 2 and 3 star restaurants thrown in, so they do have that on us.) Which do we think Villa Azur is going to be?

The French actor has surrounded himself with a local team of partners that should help to temper any unrealistic expectations about the Miami market. Nightlife arbiter Michael Martin Miami (Opium Group, Mondrian, LIV, Wall at the W) and restaurateur Jean-Philippe Bernard are combining forces to create a Riviera villa mystique, complete with crystal chandeliers and a François Frossard designed interior in his signature glam-meets-modern style.

The renderings certainly make the place look pretty, but naturally, before making mention of the restaurant, we needed to see a preview of the food. The menu is nowhere near set in stone, so we can't confirm pricing as of now, but we will say that the offerings stay true to Mediterranean roots, with Executive Chef Mickael Bensa offering a range of plates that cross at the intersection of Italian and French.

Something tells us this hot spot will most definitely be about the après

dinner scene, and if you are more interested in celeb-hunting, you'll

probably need to sneak into the private dining room known as "La Cave

d'Azur," outfitted as a wine cellar to house the approximately 200

labels ranging from boutique French, Italian and Spanish wineries, to

the highest level of Grand Cru Classé, as well as a few domestics thrown

in from the West Coast.

They plan to be open for dinner everyday starting at 7 p.m., and for brunch every Saturday starting at noon.

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