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Equal parts restaurant and market, Uruguay-based Narbona is making some big moves into the South Florida market.
Next up is Boca Center, where the family-owned business will open in January 2022, filling the void left where Joseph’s Classic Market was for almost 15 years before moving to Town Center mall in 2019.
“Narbona is not a regular market and it’s not a regular restaurant,” explains Santiago Balduzzi, the South Florida project leader. “It’s where you go and you have an experience. Our style is unique.”
Narbona made its first Stateside imprint in Key Biscayne in March. After Boca Raton there are plans to roll out locations in Coconut Grove this winter and Wynwood in the future.
“First you walk in these huge doors, like an old fashioned Italian tavern,” Balduzzi says. “You’re inside Narbona … and you say, ‘Oh my God, what are those guys doing?’ There are all these different cheeses, jams, olive oils, yogurts. You can make a reservation or have a special meal all surrounded by cheese. Or you can sit at the bar where you can have a drink and where you can see the pasta production right there inside of your view.”
Balduzzi says that they have submitted plans to change the front of the Boca Raton location so that customers can see their branded trucks pull up and unload artisanal wares.
“We try to wake up the customers’ senses,” adds Balduzzi in an interview from Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Narbona’s farms are just across the Plata river in Uruguay). “There are all the different smells, the pasta smells and the cheese smells. We pay particular attention to smells and sounds.”
With seated dining for breakfast, lunch/brunch and dinner, the menu will start the day with dishes such as avocado toast, acai bowls, parfaits and pancakes. Offerings for lunch and dinner include charcuterie boards, tapas, salads, sandwiches and Uruguayan-style pizza (thicker crust and sliced in squares), as well as entrees such as pastas, grilled salmon or branzino, roasted chicken, New York strip steak and ahi tuna.
The market side will offer gourmet fare such as the brand’s own wines and cheeses — the company is named after southern France’s Narbonne region, famous for its wines and cheeses — as well as their beer, cheese, organic vegetables, prosciutto, milk, yogurt and its signature dulce de leche and caramel. In addition to a grab-and-go section with pre-cooked dishes, there will be other items for sale such as spices, jams, breads/baked goods, pastas and fish.
“We have the meat guy, the guy … carrying the bread, they are all [within] your view,” says Balduzzi. “There’s a whole production inside. It’s not static. You can see the products coming in. You can have a meal. You can tell the chef that you want to have this product and bring it home. It’s a whole gastronomic experience. We focus on high-end natural, organic. Locals will like our special chefs.”
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At the Key Biscayne location,salads range from $15 to $18, burgers and sandwiches are $17 and $18, pizzas are $14 to $18, entrees are $17 to $38 and desserts are $8 to $12
“Narbona is also high-end hotels. You can take a boat cruise on the river or go on horses and then order a meal in front of the [stables]. So we’re accustomed to dealing with huge brands all over the world.”
There will be a local factory in North Miami for the production of yogurt, cheese and dulce de leche as well as their main offices and two warehouses, one for the factory and one for storage of other Narbona products imported from Uruguay, such as the olive oil, vinegars, pastas, marmalades, salts, granolas, coffees and teas.