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The Riviera Comes To Ocean Drive

A chef from Nice introduces a tantalizing mix of Mediterranean cuisines from France and Italy.

Chef Jean Zana, who grew up on the CÔte d’Azur, has brought recipes from his heritage to the cuisine of Ristorante di Mare on South Ocean Drive.

Chef Jean Zana, who grew up on the CÔte d’Azur, has brought recipes from his heritage to the cuisine of Ristorante di Mare on South Ocean Drive.

Nice, the lovely port city on the French Riviera, has strong cultural roots in both France and Italy. The city was actually a dominion of Italy until the mid-19th century, when it officially became part of France. Strong influences of the authentic cuisines of both countries, with an emphasis on seafood, provide the perfect blend for the local cuisine. And this is the same mix of Mediterranean cuisine featured at Ristorante di Mare on Vero’s South Beach.

The owner-chef, Jean Zana, has his roots in Nice, where he grew up and learned to cook. When he immigrated to the United States in 1982, he was drawn to Florida because of its coasts and to Vero Beach because French friends had already discovered our seaside jewel. It was in Vero Beach that he turned his passion for cooking into a profession, working for a time at a small hotel restaurant that has since closed. After several years he moved to Satellite Beach where he owned and operated the Dove Restaurant. After 20 years he sold it and returned to Vero Beach. In the fall of 2010 he opened Ristorante di Mare along with his wife Edyta.

Chef Jean explains how his Nice heritage translates into the cuisine he serves at the restaurant. “Because of our location on Ocean Drive and the availability of fresh seafood, we always emphasize seafood on our menu. The name of the restaurant is Italian, meaning ‘of the sea.’

Read the entire article in the March 2012 issue