Coming later this summer from the team behind Macchialina Taverna Rustica (820 Alton Rd.) in Miami Beach: BaZi, a modern Asian restaurant in the boutique Marlin Hotel at 1200 Collins Ave., also in South Beach.
Chef Michael Pirolo and partner Jennifer Chaefsky will run the 100-seat BaZi (pronounced bah-zee), which gets its name, meaning eight characters, from an ancient Chinese astrology system known as the Four Pillars of Destiny.
“Being able to share a new destination, concept and the evolution of my culinary capabilities with our guests is truly the motivation behind opening Bazi,” Pirolo says.
Pirolo, whose Italian cooking in South Florida has garnered critical acclaim, first at Scarpetta in the Fontainebleau then at Macchialina, says Asian cuisine is a natural progression for him. He notes that, besides travel and research, he learned Asian techniques while working in Philadelphia under chef Christopher Lee, now executive chef at The Forge in Miami Beach.
“My plan has always been to start with an Italian restaurant and grow into a multiconcept company,” Pirolo says. “Italian and Asian cuisines share philosophies as far as respecting ingredients and allowing them to shine.”
As for the menu, Pirolo says to expect forays into Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and other Asian cuisines.
“We wanted to do modern Asian so that we could explore as much as possible,” he says. “You may see pad Thai, ramen, fried rice. We can just run away with it and do our thing.”
BaZi is the first phase of a multimillion-dollar renovation of The Marlin. The small hotel, built in 1939 and home to a former recording studio used by Bob Marley, Pharrell Williams, Jay Z, Aerosmith and others, sold in April for $9.5 million to South Florida-based MRK Investments.
MRK is a silent partner in Macchialina. The investment group also is renovating a boutique hotel in Asheville, N.C., that had planned to house a second Macchialina; that restaurant project has been postponed indefinitely while Pirolo and Chaefsky focus on BaZi.
Pirolo: “The restaurant itself will maintain our intimate, neighborhood sensibility with exceptional food, drink and service, while infusing the energy of the hotel’s previous incarnation as a celebrity destination.”