It was a crisp, clear February night, and the crowd was as sexy as one would expect it to be at the opening of a hot new restaurant in the buzzing Downtown Miami district. Revelers roamed in between tables at Giselle, the sleek new dining destination located on the rooftop of E11EVEN, one of the most well-known clubs in the city and home to a quintessential “305” experience: beautiful people, exquisite food and plenty of Instagram-worthy corners for sexy selfies with friends. Taking it all in is Tim Petrillo, chief executive officer of The Restaurant People (TRP), a renowned hospitality brand he founded in 1997 that has conceptualized and brought to life some of the most in-demand restaurants and nightlife venues in the Broward market for over two decades, including the recently reimagined YOLO and O Lounge, S3, Boatyard, Rooftop@1WLO, Casablanca Café, TRP Taste, and Java & Jam. Giselle Miami, the group’s latest project and second in Miami after Brickell’s scenic Rosa Sky, is quickly cementing the brand’s footprint in a city known for its glittering entertainment and dining venues.
Situated on the rooftop of E11EVEN Miami, Giselle serves as a lively addition to the local culinary scene merging Asian, Mediterranean & French-inspired cuisine, elevated cocktail programming, and exquisite design with supreme hospitality-driven service. Boasting mystique and an undeniable sense of allure, the rooftop restaurant concept transports guests on a journey into the world behind the eyes of its namesake, the imaginary but no less tempting, Giselle.
For Petrillo, it was an obvious next step for the company whose presence in Broward was a dominant force in the nightlife landscape. His impressive business portfolio had made him a walking legend in Fort Lauderdale, but when his eyes and interests turned to the south, Petrillo knew he would need a Miami-savvy partner with which to team up.
“Miami is a very dynamic market,” says Petrillo, “but it’s possible for a venue to have great food, great service and great atmosphere, and it simply doesn’t work. As we cautiously pursued opportunities in that region, I felt it was important to have someone within the TRP team that was knowledgeable about that market and could curate the crowd and to a point, the experience. In Broward, that person was me. But Miami, though It is only 30 minutes away, is a different world. I was looking for someone to bring in and no one was a fit until I met Alan.”
Alan Roth, a fixture in Miami’s nightlife scene since his days promoting the popular Magic Garden parties at The Albion Hotel in the halcyon days of South Beach in the late 90s, had taken a break from the industry he had helped build to focus on himself and his family. But the itch to start something new was there and, according to him, the stars aligned to make magic happen. Through the introduction of a mutual acquaintance, a friendship—and eventual partnership—was born. “We hit it off,” says Roth.
“When I started to meet with Alan in Miami, we talked about restaurants and clubs we liked. We became good friends before we decided to do business together,” says Petrillo. “Alan’s approach to business is like mine. It just worked.”
Roth joined the TRP team as Miami venture partner, bringing nearly three decades of culinary and nightlife business in the Miami Market to the partnership with a focus on concept, atmosphere and execution. His first project with The Restaurant People, Rosa Sky, hit its stride immediately, something Roth attributes to an ideal marriage of expert approach and synergy between the TRP team. “Joining Tim and the team has been the perfect partnership. I took a long break, which in a way served as a learning curve for me. I had a fresh perspective by the time we opened Rosa Sky,” says Roth, “Sometimes you must take a step back, analyze and adapt to what works. That’s true in life and in relation to opening new venues.”
Through Giselle Miami, Petrillo and Roth are focused on offering a sophisticated chef-driven concept while delivering a must-have element of this kind of business, inviting décor. Upon arrival, guests take a private elevator up to the main entrance of the rooftop restaurant, where they are invited to step into the sultry atmosphere via a luminous mosaic-tiled tunnel that whimsically leads into Giselle’s foyer. A custom-built retractable roof spans the entirety of the indoor-outdoor restaurant, allowing for a truly dynamic dining experience. An intimate Lounge/Terrace area extends from the bar, offering comfortable lounge seating and elegant black marble embellished dining tables set against Miami’s evening skyline. Separating this space from the central dining area within the venue, a double-sided mirrored sign spells out, in neon fluorescence, the spoken words of Giselle: “I’ll be here, if by chance, you’ll be here too.”
Giselle’s Central Dining area houses a thoughtful curation of table settings to accommodate varied restaurant-goers party sizes – from cozy tables for two all the way up to larger seating for ten. A partially enclosed space, bordered by lush greenery and marble scaffolding, boasts three large party custom-built round tables. Refined with sleek wood paneling and delicately hand-carved trimmings, each table setting within this area can comfortably seat up to 10 guests.
Giselle’s artfully devised layout leads us to the concept’s utterly awe-striking Dream Room. This high-design main dining room space is engulfed with impossibly oversized French lace and elaborate baroque detailing, whereas the walls and ceilings are ornamented in 3D wood-carved architectural details. At the heart of the Dream Room, an open interactive kitchen offers an exclusive experiential element for guests. Giselle’s spectacular settings each offer their own unique personality and idyllic backdrops for bespoke private dining experiences and events.
“The goal for Giselle was to create a place that felt sophisticated, sexy and even a little mysterious. But, also accessible,” says Roth, “E11EVEN is one of the highest-grossing nightclubs in the country, so any restaurant that would align with that brand needed to hit certain points of being both elegant and approachable. I was so proud of what the culinary team have created. The menu is very versatile. Giselle is a place where guests can feel a level of freedom and elevation at the same time. The teams at E11EVEN and TRP have seen to that.”
For Petrillo and Roth, the future involves continuing to breathe life into the Fort Lauderdale and Miami culinary and nightlife scene. A speakeasy and lounge concept are soon coming to Miami’s Wynwood area followed by a second location north on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, fast evolving as a vibrant dining destination with touches of flash more often seen in Miami. “Every destination evolves as tastes evolve,” says Petrillo. “Broward is a little bit behind in terms of presentation and flash. But people are experiencing that up there now and have an expectation of it. Because we are in Miami and we understand that at a greater level, we can apply those principles here.”
Roth agrees. “The restaurant and nightlife scene in South Florida, in general, is growing. What is coming to Fort Lauderdale is huge, while Miami continues its path to being a top international destination. And Tim and I are in the middle of it all.”
By Jenny Starr Perez. Photography by Eduardo Schneider.