Chef Jimmy Carey recently partnered with his wife, Camille Olabarrieta, and his longtime friend Bobby Holley to open Jimmy’z Kitchen on Windy Hill Road in Marietta.
Both Carey and Holley have impressive resumes as fine dining chefs. And the French-influenced “Nuevo Latino” restaurant is a surprisingly sophisticated and inviting addition to a small, unassuming suburban strip center not far from a busy exit off I-75.
Carey was born in New York City to an Irish father and a Cuban mother, and spent his youth in Puerto Rico, before moving to Miami to attend culinary school at Johnson and Wales. After working at a number of Miami restaurants, Carey opened the first Jimmy’z Kitchen in South Beach in 2007, followed by a pioneering location of the fast-casual concept in the Wynwood neighborhood.
Long Island-born and -raised Holley graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He worked at New York City’s Le Bernardin, Brasserie Le Coze in Miami (where he met Carey), and Brasserie Le Coze in Atlanta, before taking over the kitchen at the Atlanta Fish Market in Buckhead.
Together, Carey and Holley combine Puerto Rican, Spanish and Caribbean cuisine with French technique to create dishes like Pimento Cheese Fritters with guava glaze, Crab Beignets with lemon aioli and malanga root chips, and Cuban Spring Rolls with cilantro-mustard sauce.
There’s a separate section of the menu with six different signature takes on mofongo, including fresh fish with Creole sauce, and churrasco steak with chimichurri and Creole sauces. You’ll also find the likes of roasted Cuban mojo pork with rice, beans and maduros, a butcher’s cut steak frites, and Bay of Fundy grilled salmon with calabaza hash and lemon beurre blanc, as well as salads, sides and desserts.
The reasonably priced beverage list reflects the owners’ fine dining backgrounds, with French Champagne; California, Italian, South American and Spanish wines; cocktails such as the Guavi Q with Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum, guava puree, and lime juice; and a small selection of local and international beer.
Olabarrieta was responsible for the design and decor in the cozy space, which features a distinctive polished quartzite-topped bar, surrounded by collections of tables and chairs, banquettes fashioned from refurbished church pews, and striking modern artworks.
Last week, Carey, Olabarrieta and Holley sat around the bar to talk about Jimmy’z Kitchen in Marietta — which as it turns out, not only features a much different menu than the originals in Miami, but is now the only Jimmy’z open.
“We’re really happy to be here in Atlanta,” Carey said. “We lived in Miami for 33 years. We loved it down there. We still have our friends and family there, but Atlanta is our home now. This restaurant is a little different for us. We were fast-casual there. Here we have a full-service restaurant with a full bar.
“Some of the items we served in Miami that were favorites, we brought here. Obviously, the mofongo is our star. Our Ahi Tuna Special is our No. 1 seller. Some of the other fish dishes, along with the Latin flair and the healthy part of it, are here, too. And we’re doing more entrees and a finer dining experience. Bobby (Holley) and I go back to Brasserie Le Coze in Miami, and he’s helped a lot throughout the whole process with sourcing fish, and vendors and purveyors, and all the good contacts he has here.”
“It’s going to be great,” Holley said. “I keep busy over at the Fish Market pretty much all of the time. I thought I could do more here with Jimmy, but he’s definitely a professional, and he’s had a good handle on it from the start. And Camille did a great job designing the restaurant.”
“Somebody had to do it,” said Olabarrieta, who has a design degree from Pratt Institute in New York City. “My dad is an architect, so I grew up with art and design, and when we got this space, I guess it was me. We didn’t have a lot of money, so we had to be very creative, and that’s what we did.”
2468 Windy Hill Road SE, No. 600, Marietta. 770-485-3227, jimmyzkitchen.com.
Scroll down for more images from a First Look at Jimmy’z Kitchen in Marietta
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