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A Slice Of Heaven

Maison Martinique serves up fabulous food and Old Florida charm.

Shrimp Gratin from Maison Martinique. Purchase the October 2016 issue for the full recipe!

Shrimp Gratin from Maison Martinique. Purchase the October 2016 issue for the full recipe!

I’m walking down a brick-paved path under arches and arbors of lush tropical foliage and cascading bougainvillea, confederate jasmine, and purple passion vines that adorn the stucco walls of the Caribbean Court Hotel. Located just a stone’s throw from the Atlantic in Vero’s South Beach, this island retreat is a little slice of heaven. Unlike the sophistication of Vero’s Ocean Drive or the upbeat hip happenings of downtown Vero Beach, it exudes the charm of old Florida with an undeniable handful of Spanish flavor thrown in to season the pot. It’s hard to imagine a more romantic setting.

Formerly known as the Riviera Inn, Boris Gonzalez rescued the property from a bulldozer in 2004 before turning it into a boutique hotel, along with a fine dining restaurant and piano bar. “When I bought the building, I could see the bones were there,” he says of his vision. “But the place was worn and tired-looking.” Still, the setting portended a tropical oasis to Gonzalez; and he forged ahead, totally renovating the property and landscaping, adding Cuban artwork and colorful Spanish tiles as a tribute to his heritage.

But the transformation has not been without its challenges. Veteran Chef Yannick Martin, after whom the restaurant Maison Martinique was named, took it soaring to the premiere dining spot in Vero Beach before retiring from the business in 2009. Ever since, a succession of chefs has attempted to emulate his achievements with varying degrees of success. So I was intrigued to sit down and talk to the two chefs at the helm today: Cesare Perrotti and Patrick Hughes, both notable
culinary professionals who have taken on the challenge of restoring the restaurant to its former glory. 

Chef Perrotti, known to his friends as Chet, arrived in March of this year with a wealth of experience under his belt. Born in Connecticut into an Italian family where he grew up watching his maternal grandmother cook, his venture into the food industry began with a produce market. “It was the second largest produce company in the state,” he says.