Since arriving on France’s Côte d’Azur in the 2000s, Mauro Colagreco has had his eye on the cliffside hotel now known as the Maybourne Riviera. Formerly the Vista Palace before it was bought and given a modernist revamp by the Maybourne Hotel Group, the exemplary address sits perched atop a rocky peninsula above the town of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, a location Mauro always thought would make “a very nice spot” for a restaurant. Now 15 years later, Colagreco’s newest destination, Ceto, has opened as the hotel’s flagship, housed in a very nice spot indeed, set on the highest floor with sweeping views of the Mediterranean.
Whereas his nearby, Michelin three-star Mirazur offers an experience that transports you between the ocean, the mountains and its own gardens, Ceto is firmly focused on the waters below. With the ambition to create something more than a restaurant—more like a “marine culinary workshop”—Colagreco has worked with the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco to research sustainable, seasonal fishing for a menu that takes an exceptionally deep dive into what the sea has to offer. To wit: After traveling to several countries, including Japan, to learn the traditional techniques for maturing fish, Colagreco developed his own maturation chamber for the new restaurant. “It’s one of the only chambers built to mature fish at this level of precision,” he says, adding “even I didn’t believe that we could increase the flavor like that.”
Inspired by the chef’s native Argentina and holidays spent eating grilled sardines on the beach, a grill in the kitchen adds a taste of summer to the menu. Familiar plates include a sea bass served with grilled leeks and ajo verde sauce, but diners can also expect lesser-known ingredients such as sea fennel, sea herbs and seaweed, dried leaves of which are layered with toffee and vanilla notes in an unexpected mille-feuille dessert.
Colagreco hopes to show diners that the diversity in our oceans goes beyond just fish and shellfish. “As a chef, it’s more interesting to work with a bigger palette, to express all the tastes and textures of the sea,” he says, “but through teaching people about the diversity of the ocean, we will learn to respect it and value it. The ocean is an extremely rich source of food, but only if we take care of it.”