Monday, February 11, 2013

Villa Azur

Once upon a time, in a magic city where sunshine abounds, and star-studded celebrities roam the streets, a little girl (well maybe not so little) entered through a set of majestic french doors and stepped into an enchanted French-Mediterranean fairytale with an Italian twist; luxuriously set in a Miami Beach version of the Cote d'Azur...

And cut! This is exactly how I felt when I began my most recent adventure at Villa Azur, located at 309 23rd Street in Miami Beach. Villa Azur is a chic, elegant new restaurant in South Beach that perfectly combines the ambiance of an enchanted garden with the energy of a vibrant, modern hotspot. The first thing anyone notices upon stepping inside Villa Azur is the romantic décor and unique style that permeates throughout the entire space. From a contrasting mix of antique woods and chandeliers accentuating modern, contemporary furniture, to large eclectic paintings on easels welcoming the guests as they make their way into the sophisticated space, Villa Azur's style is unique. But what totally took my breath away was the jaw-dropping garden terrace outside. White leather couches sat among potted plants decorated with lights, while swaying white drapes romantically framed the setting. Beautiful!

Two words to describe the courtyard: Wow factor!

There is an impressive team at the helm of Villa Azur. It is owned by three well-known names in the industry: French night-life guru Michael Martin, restaurateur Jean Phillipe Bernard, and renowned actor Olivier Martinez, who is actress Halle Berry's fiance. The tantalizing cuisine is prepared by Executive Chef Romain Bester, who brings over 15 years of culinary experience to Villa Azur, along with a passion for French and international cuisine, and Executive Pastry Chef Sebastien Feneyrol, who adds a decadent sweet side to the mix. He worked under three-star Michelin chef Anne-Sophie Pic who owns Maison Pic in Valence, France and was named the 2011 "World's Best Female Chef".

Crispy Calamari
We started off the evening with a glass of luscious red wine, from La Cave D'Azur, Villa Azur's in-house wine cellar, offering over 190 handpicked wines and champagnes. While we sipped away, our waiter brought us the menu, and a giant chalkboard with the Specials of the Day. Loving burrata as much as we do, we decided to share the Stuffed Burrata with Truffle and the Crispy Calamari. The Stuffed Burrata was a sphere of decadent creaminess, filled with earthy French love in the form of black truffle. Amazing! It was appetizing to the eye and pleasing to the palate. The Calamari were well-seasoned, served with an arugula and heirloom tomato salad and a sun-dried tomato salsa that was exquisite. In this romantic setting, an aphrodisiac or two seemed perfect, so we ordered a round of West Coast Oysters to stir things up. The oysters were fresh, pleasantly salty and very meaty.

Stuffed Burrata with Truffle

Grilled Branzino
Steamed Sea Bass
Many of the entrees sounded fabulous and after some thought, we went for the Grilled Branzino and the Steamed Sea Bass. The Grilled Branzino was served on roasted pepper coulis and a classic artichoke barigoule. It was slightly sweet, with a delicate, nutty taste and a firm yet moist texture. The Steamed Bass was served with a poached vegetables and herbs salad and an aioli sauce that was divine. The fish was mildly flavored, with a delicate, flaky texture. As a side dish, we had the Macaroni with Truffle. It was rich, creamy and a hit for me.

Macaroni with Truffles

Lemon Meringue Pie
Homemade Nutella Mousse
The fairytale adventure came to a close with two decadent desserts: The Lemon Meringue Pie and the Homemade Nutella Mousse. They were outstanding and had me licking the spoon with my eyes closed. The Lemon Meringue Pie was unbelievable; a perfect ratio of crust and filling with a tartness that lingered subtly with each bite. The Nutella mousse was creamy and refreshing; topped with fresh berries that complemented the sweetness of the chocolate. We scooped up every last bit and...lived happily ever after.

A trip to Villa Azur in Miami Beach will feel like a quick drive to the French Riviera. It was an upscale, memorable experience that I highly recommend if you want to impress that special someone in your life. For more information, you can call them at 305-763-8688 or visit them online at

Villa Azur Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

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