Courtesy of Ad Lib

File this news under "Big Deal." 

Clarissa Buch
Updated December 11, 2018

Jamie DeRosa, the Miami chef behind Izzy’s Fish & Oyster in Fort Meyers, Florida, always knew who pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith was. After all, the two-time James Beard Award finalist is a legend of sorts, known for transforming Miami’s baking scene in the early 2000s with unique interpretations of the most tried-and-true desserts, like bacon sticky buns, pie-in-a-jars, and reinvented Pop Tarts. When they first met nearly a decade ago, DeRosa was surprised that Goldsmith knew who he was, too.

“She was, and still is, such a celebrity, especially in Miami,” DeRosa says. “When I first met her, we couldn’t stop talking about food and baking. We totally hit it off.”

The two, who struck up a friendship around 2010, stayed in touch for years, even after Goldsmith left Miami for Los Angeles in 2015 to launch her own pastry business, Sweet Hedy, and later work for John Kunkel’s Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in LA’s Beverly Center.

“We talked here and there about doing something together one day,” DeRosa says. “But never in a million years did I think it would really happen. But then, an opportunity just fell on our lap.”

In 2019, DeRosa and Goldsmith will reunite to open Ad Lib, a two-floor modern American restaurant with two bars, in Coral Gables, a dreamy, tree-lined city just outside of downtown Miami. Sam Ross of New York City’s Attaboy will serve as director of cocktails and spirits with sommelier Daniel Toral and director of service Cristiano Azevedo, best known for his work at NYC’s Indian Accent.

“I actually made the decision to move back without knowing what my next project would be,” Goldsmith says. “After three years in L.A., I really missed my family and friends here. Being surrounded by people you love is paramount. Now being able to open Ad Lib, it’s the icing on the cake.”

Set up inside the now-shuttered Swine Southern Table & Bar, a previously-owned Kunkel restaurant similar to Yardbird, Ad Lib will serve rotating menus for lunch, dinner, and brunch, highlighting responsibly sourced meats, local produce, and wild-caught seafood. The space will be intimate, capping at 70 seats between the dining room and bar areas.

 “We don’t want to put boundaries on what Ad Lib will be,” says DeRosa, who will be executive chef and partner. “That’s why the name is so important. Ad Lib means impromptu or improvised, which gives us the ability to serve what we want, when we want, and have fun with it along the way.”

The opening will mark Ross’ first project in Florida, where he will lead Ad Lib’s first floor bar and upstairs lounge, both of which will serve a creative selection of cocktails, according to DeRosa.

“Anyone who knows cocktails, knows who Sam is,” DeRosa says. “Each bar area will have its own feeling.”

For now, DeRosa and Goldsmith are staying tight-lipped on what exactly will be on the menu.

“We’re trying not to box ourselves into anything,” he says. “We’re spending as much time as we can with local farmers. We’ll definitely have some dry-aging going on, and a lot of vegetable-driven items. The market is hungry for something lighter and brighter, and now more than ever we’re seeing vegetables as the stars of dishes, instead of just an afterthought.”

In addition to lunch and dinner, expect Goldsmith to bring her repertoire of tricks to brunch and dessert.

“I want the dessert menu to reflect South Florida seasonality,” she says. “My approach to desserts on this menu will be, as they have always been, flavor-forward. And having the opportunity to craft new menus reminds me why I love this industry so much.”

Before Ad Lib debuts (the restaurant hasn’t announced an opening date), DeRosa and Goldsmith are spending much of their time recipe-testing, building a team, and exploring Miami’s nearby farms to taste fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish.

“We’ve been pals and buddies for years, but we’ve never spent this much time together,” DeRosa says. “It’s great. We’re really complementary of one another. I always say, ‘She’s my sweetest friend,’ but I really do mean it. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she’s constantly making pies, and cakes, and ice cream. She’s going to have to kick me out of the kitchen sooner or later.”

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