Transporting Tuscany, By Shayne Benowitz
“Chad Oppenheim[, Founder and Principal of Oppenheim Architecture,] has designed everything from homes in Miami and Los Angeles to resorts in Costa Rica. But the 120-seat Forte dei Marmi, housed inside a 1938 Mediterranean villa in the South of Fifth neighborhood, represents Oppenheim’s first restaurant commission.
. . .
As with every project, Oppenheim adhered to his guiding principle that form follows feeling. ‘It’s not really about what it looks like, but how it feels,’ he says. The first step was to travel to Tuscany ‘to understand the spirit of the place, the logic and the romance,’ 0ppenheim says. He translated the unfussy feeling he experienced in Italy to South Beach’s own Forte dei Marmi through noble, elemental materials like bleached oak and linen, and bronze objets d’art in the upstairs Arts Club lounge. Handselected travertine from Italy’s San Pietro marble quarry flows from the dining room to a terrazzo shaded by an arcade portico dripping with bougainvillea. . . .
Thus Forte dei Marmi emerged as a space in which one can savor chef [Antonio] Mellino’s delicate branzino and zucchini flowers in an atmosphere Oppenheim describes as ‘nondesign – true, sincere and relaxed.’”
Photo above by: Karen Fuchs