Mario Carbone on Opening Chateau ZZ’s, Major Food Group’s First Mexican Restaurant

Chateau ZZ’s will include a Mexican restaurant as well as a second floor reserved for members of the private ZZ’s club in Miami’s Design District. 

Chateau ZZ’s is opening its doors in Miami. Kris Tamburello

“This is definitely a signature Major Food Group project,” Mario Carbone tells Observer of the hospitality company’s latest venture. “You’ve got your tuxedo-clad captain coming tableside exactly as you would expect. The guacamole you’re going to order is going to be made in front of you.”

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Carbone is describing Chateau ZZ’s, the new Miami destination that he, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick will open on Brickell Avenue this weekend (Saturday, Dec. 23). Chateau ZZ’s will include Major Food Group’s first Mexican restaurant, which will be open to the public, in addition to a second floor reserved for members of the private ZZ’s club in Miami’s Design District. 

The property occupies the European-style Petit Douy manor. Kris Tamburello

The location of Chateau ZZ’s, inside the European-style Petit Douy manor that dates back to 1931 and was originally built as a private residence, screams old-world glamour. Major Food Group and interior designer Ken Fulk have restored and reimagined the interiors of the historically protected property, which boasts lush gardens, fountains, an atrium and two octagonal towers with trefoil arch windows featuring leaded glass. The centerpiece of Chateau ZZ’s is the ground-floor Mexican restaurant that will serve tostadas (topped with options including spicy tuna, caviar-and-crema, wagyu-and-truffle and lobster-and-jalapeño), michelada oysters, littleneck clam aguachile, Florida stone crab claws, grilled steaks, spicy lobster fideos, whole branzino (brushed in red and green sauce) and a “faithful interpretation” of the original Tijuana-born recipe for Caesar salad. Tortillas will be made in-house. There will be coconut tres leches, churros and mango cheesecake for dessert.

“I think it all goes through the same sort of philosophical prism,” Carbone says. “We took the traditional cadence of a Mexican menu, just like we did with Italian-American food. We start to figure out, OK, is there a better version? Is there an ideal version? What are fundamental issues with that dish?”

It’s Major Food Group’s first Mexican restaurant. Noah Willson

For example, Major Food Group considered how tostadas typically fall apart when you bite into them. 

“Looking at the actual body of a tostada and then the topping of it, how can we make this a beautiful thing? So the tuna becomes this sort of pounded and punched-out perfect circle that lays over the exact same circle of the body of the tostada,” Carbone says. “It’s not just a tortilla that’s been fried and is going to Cookie Monster in your hands. It’s got to be something that you can take a bite and hold onto, and then take a second bite. So these things are conversations we have internally. What’s a taco look like? What does aguachile look like? How do we serve tequila? And as you answer the questions, you start to form your vibe and style.”

Grilled branzino. Noah Willson

Chateau ZZ’s (Major Food Group’s eighth Miami venture in a portfolio that also includes Carbone, Dirty French Steakhouse, Contessa, HaSalon and two separate Sadelle’s outposts) will have an agave-centric drinks menu with more than 1,000 tequilas and mezcals. 

Churros for dessert, of course. Noah Willson

“We have the largest selection of tequila in Miami,” Carbone says. “Basically, the wine list becomes a tequila list here. We really want you to explore it the way that you would explore sake in a Japanese restaurant or Super Tuscans at Carbone.”

Above the Mexican restaurant, atop a staircase, is a private level where members of ZZ’s will be able to enjoy a covered terrace and a lounge with a fireplace. Patrons on the second floor can order food and drinks (including margaritas and palomas) from the same menu as the downstairs restaurant.

Drinks include classics like margaritas. Noah Willson

“It’s a new amenity for members of our existing Miami club,” Zalaznick tells Observer. “If you’re not a member of ZZ’s but just want to join to be able to go upstairs, we expect that there will be the ability to do that at a later date. But this is for members only.” 

It’s been a big year for Major Food Group; along with the opening of Chateau ZZ’s, the hospitality company recently debuted ZZ’s Club, a members-only concept, in New York City, and earned a coveted Michelin star for Torrisi.

Chateau ZZ’s, located at 1500 Brickell Ave. in Miami, Florida, opens on Saturday, December 23, 2023. The initial hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Mario Carbone on Opening Chateau ZZ’s, Major Food Group’s First Mexican Restaurant