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French Postcards

Chef Jimmy de Almeida scores with Miami Beach’s version of Bagatelle, a gastronomic brand beloved from St. Tropez and London to Tulum and Mykonos.

Bagatelle in South Beach feels like a scene—at one point, the waiters will get up on tables, spinning white handkerchiefs, enlisting game patrons to dance with them to the percussive strains of the Gypsy Kings. But when you’re tucked away in a round velvet banquette, sharing Executive Chef Jimmy de Almeida’s delectable Mediterranean cuisine, you’re in your own romantic world. You only need share it for a few minutes here and there, as a deft server shaves thin slices of black truffles over a dinner plate-sized circle of Piccia puffed bread. Presentation-wise, that mozzarella-topped starter opens the dinner with a bang.

Jimmy de Almeida joined Bagatelle Miami in 2021 to open the restaurant, after working in such vaunted venues as La Voile St. Tropez, Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV in Monaco, Le Jardin Restaurant in Geneva, Bord Eau in Abu Dhabi, Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris and Hôtel de Berri in Paris. He attributes much of his inspiration for Bagatelle’s dishes to his childhood in France, where he learned to cook with his grandparents, making inventive use of fresh ingredients from their garden.

His garden-to-kitchen style is evidenced in many of Bagatelle’s dishes and seasonal pairings. Throughout his childhood, De Almeida remembers his family always cooking—and involving everyone in the sampling and tasting process. The chef has brought that culture into the kitchen at Bagatelle, involving everyone in the kitchen with weekly tastings as they design new dishes and refine their current signature dishes with seasonal touches. 

Parmigiana eggplant, Parmesan di Reggiano cream cheese

A recent evening brought a bounty of Bagatelle’s crowd-pleasers. Toothsome starters included tiny rolls of eggplant parmigiana, bathed in Parmigiano Reggiano cream. Somehow the size of the rolls intensified the flavor of this familiar dish. And there was tuna tartare with liberal dollops of avocado cream, and delicate slices of Mediterranean sea bass carpaccio, with tonnato sauce and Pantelleria capers. With seafood of this quality, it was a Provencal rosé type of meal—Château d’Esclans’ Whispering Angel, to be exact.

My friend was worried about portion control and blanched when I served us both the remaining slices of Piccia bread, but I was not about to let those lovingly shaved Melanosporum truffles go to waste—this type of truffle is one of the world’s most expensive. So, we were both surprised and delighted when our server soon appeared with a bowl of tiny raviolis “Del Plin,” dressed in Castelmagno, a cheese that was conjured nearly 1,000 years ago in Italy’s Piedmont region—and then proceeded to shave the rare black truffles over this dish as well.

I let my friend become distracted by the grilled duck and the wood-fired octopus, the latter served with grilled red peppers in a bright vierge sauce (olive oillemon juice, chopped tomato and chopped basil). I tried a little of each, and both were satisfyingly crispy. But mainly, I got romantic with secret spoonfuls of the addictive ravioli, bathed in a cheese I’d never experienced before and hoped to meet again.

Desserts

By Drew Limsky

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.