Mario Carbone. Photo courtesy Major Food Group

InterviewsMiami

Mario Carbone on Carbone Beach and Miami’s Historic Formula One Weekend

By

Since opening in 2021, Carbone Miami has been one of the city’s toughest reservations, and with Formula One roaring into town, Major Food Group and the Carbone crew are bringing another shiny option to the table, expanding to the beach for a special four-night experience, appropriately named …  American Express Presents Carbone Beach.

We caught up with Mario Carbone to discuss the event itself, the group’s Miami presence, the magnitude of the upcoming Formula One weekend, and much more.

Resy: Let’s start at the beginning. How did this experience — American Express Presents Carbone Beach — come to be?

Mario Carbone: With the Formula One event, we’re looking at a historic weekend in Miami. We wanted to do something of the size, scale, and magnitude of the weekend. We started with that question: How can we do something as impactful as this weekend in Miami? And then we worked backwards from there. We were able to secure this space on the beach, and then details started falling into place as we thought about what can differentiate this experience from the restaurant. How is it going be different? How is it going to be special? How is it going to be memorable?

With the Formula One event, we’re looking at a historic weekend in Miami. We wanted to something of the size, scale, and magnitude of the weekend.

Where did those questions lead?

The idea here is an old school, over-the-top grand supper club. Dinner and a show. I am constantly trading in the mid-century time period; I think I was born in the wrong era. So as I’m thinking of a big night out, especially when it comes to the Carbone brand, my mind wanders to the old Rat Pack days, the Copacabana days, the Las Vegas days. What were they eating when Frank was singing? I like playing that out.

This (Carbone Beach) space gives an opportunity that we don’t have at the restaurant, where we’re confined to the square footage. Here, we’re building out a dream scenario with dinner and a show, right on the beach, under the stars.

A rendering of the entrance.
A rendering of the entrance.

Tell us more about the space, and the experience.

It’s being constructed from scratch right on the beach. I want to keep some of it as a surprise for diners. But there will be a grand welcome moment as part of the cocktail hour, while mingling and drinking. There’s a grand food moment, and you’re constantly being entertained. We have it heavily programmed, with different styles of music and different performances, with a headliner each night. You’re totally entertained with food, beverage, and live entertainment.

You’ll sit down to a pretty elaborate Carbone dinner. Unlike the restaurant, in this setting, we’re afforded an opportunity to not need to have that table back, so we can stretch the night out and go grand.

There was an old New York restaurant named the Forum of the Twelve Caesars, where diners would eat like Caesar in his court. It came way before something like Medieval Times, but it took itself much more seriously and was very opulent. It was about this gilded abundance of the meal.

What can people expect to be on the menu?

Certainly our Caesar salad, the spicy rigatoni, veal parmigiana. We’re building out around the signatures, and then adding onto those, so it’s this over-the-top experience.

GuidesMiami

Where to Dine in Miami During Formula One Grand Prix

Formula One’s Miami Grand Prix race is speeding into the Magic City with a slew of events leading up to…

By

And we have to ask about the price ($3,000 per person). It’s obviously a much higher price point than your typical Carbone meal. How did you determine it?

A huge part of it is securing giant plot of sand on Formula One weekend in Miami — and then having top-shelf performers and headliners, and delivering an over-the-top food and beverage package. When you get to the end, that’s the number that it is.

Lastly, you’ve been in Miami for a little over a year now. What have you learned in your first year there? What, if anything, has surprised you?

I think, personally, I was surprised how quickly the restaurant and myself got comfortable here. Miami always been spoken about like brother and sister to New York City, but really feeling that by spending large chunk of time here. We’ve been embraced so well. And the restaurant scene has grown so much, taking the city to places it has never been before. This historic weekend is exactly that for Miami. Part of our responsibility is to rise with it — let’s bring something to that level.

You just opened in Carbone in Dallas. What factors do you and the team consider when looking at new opportunities and new markets?

Usually it’s space-driven, or relationship-driven. If there’s something that comes around that immediately speaks to us, whether a physical space or a location or a city, it goes to that sense of place. Does this feel like Carbone could be here? You start to put pieces together and build backwards from there. And at the end, if we built something where we didn’t want to hang out, then we did it wrong.