The pool area overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa in Manalapan
With many snowbirds deciding to sit tight in Florida this summer, and locals cancelling planned trips, now that things are beginning to reopen, we are all looking for a little adventure and excitement after being stuck at home for several months. Fortunately, Florida offers many such opportunities right in our own backyards! One of my favorite spots for a staycation is Palm Beach! Elegant, sophisticated, beautiful beaches, world class shopping, recreation, and a variety of excellent restaurants and places to stay, it’s one of my favorites, plus Palm Beach is home to my business, so I have a special affinity for the fabled subtropical Florida paradise!
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese at Sant’Ambroeus
First, for places to stay, start with the famed Breakers Resort overlooking the Ocean. Enjoy golf, a world class spa, gourmet dining, and more! Other favorites in town include the luxurious Brazilian Court Hotel, and The Colony, both steps from famed Worth Avenue. A little further afield, two favorite oceanfront properties include the newly renovated Four Seasons Palm Beach in South Palm Beach, and the magnificent Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa in Manalapan. A few days at any of these properties will leave you feeling refreshed and recharged. Anytime I am looking for an escape and to restore my faith in life, I drive across the bridge (to my office, of all things) on the island of Palm Beach! I chose Palm Beach as the situs for my business for this reason. Going to “work” should always be one of the most enjoyable experiences and destinations if you love what you do and you want to be successful. Palm Beach is a wonderful community, especially in the hospitality arena. Many restaurant owners and chefs (of competing businesses) are friends and support one another, which is so refreshing, especially during these crazy times.
Now that you have ideas for lodging, let’s get down to dining!
For breakfast, let’s start with a few island favorites: Sant’ Ambroeus in Royal Poinciana Plaza, imported from Milan (via New York City and The Hamptons) has the best coffee, pastries, Avocado Toast, and move right into lunch and dinner with homemade gelato, Italian entrees, panini, cocktails, and more in super stylish digs! I bring my computer and sit and sip cappuccino or espresso here often. Another favorite is Cucina, across the street, also a top spot for lunch and dinner.
For French, start with Café Boulud by Daniel Boulud in The Brazilian Court Hotel. It is also a favorite spot for brunch. Bistro Chez Jean-Pierre is a wonderful choice on the north end of the island, and is a favorite for Chef Boulud on his night off (a big endorsement). Cafe L’Europe is the island’s most elegant establishment. Enjoy classic Continental Cuisine that fortunately has remained the standard for fine dining for three decades. Note: many of the cars parked out front cost more than the average home–it is Palm Beach, after all.
Photos by Bice, Erica Dunhill
For Italian, there are many great choices. On the island, start with Trevini, a longtime favorite in a beautiful new space on the north end. Trevini combines the two owners’ names (Gianni Minervini from Bari, and Claudio Trevisan from Stresa in the north) and serves the best regional cuisine from both and parts in-between. Gianni is known as “the best host in Palm Beach,” he treats everyone like family and is has been a pleasure following him and Trevini around the past 20 years from their original location at 150 Worth above Saks. They have a great happy hour as well. Bice, another Milanese import with great service overseen by manager José, delicious, authentic food, and a lovely outdoor dining area. Since it is Palm Beach, don’t be surprised to be sitting (now six feet away) from a celebrity! Bice also has one of the island’s best happy hours, with most of the menu and cocktails half off early each evening. Renato’s, located down a lovely via off of Worth Avenue has Palm Beach’s most magical courtyard (think of Capri), plus great food, service, and ambience inside or out. Their casual sib, Pizza al Fresco located nearby is situated in a courtyard of one of architect Addison Mizner’s residences has a lot more than just great Italian-style wood burning oven pizza. Their Snapper dish is outstanding! Manager Javier (brother is José at Bice) pays special attention to guests, making them feel at home. For those who don’t know, Addison Mizner was the spirited architect responsible for many of the prominent buildings and mansions in Palm Beach, and the entire Mediterranean/Moorish architectural movement in South Florida, dating back to the 1920’s.
Ravioli special at Trevini
Above photos courtesy of Trevini
Seafood Salad at Trevini.
For steak, The Flagler Steakhouse (part of The Breakers Hotel) is wonderful, located on the second floor of the golf clubhouse across the street from the main hotel, serving great views of the course and West Palm Beach’s skyline, as well as great soups, salads, sides, and prime cuts. Meat Market in the north end is another island favorite with a great atmosphere and beautiful steaks, part of a mini-chain with locations in Miami, Tampa, and San Juan.
For Seafood, try PB Catch.
One of my favorites on the island is Buccan by renowned chef Clay Conley, who brought a refreshing contemporary American/Caribbean twist to Palm Beach dining over a decade ago and has become one of the area’s most decorated chefs! With an open wood-burning grill and an exciting menu, Buccan is definitely THE foodie spot in town. Imoto next door (Japanese for “Little Sister”) is Chef Clay’s Japanese/sushi spot with an entirely different menu and vibe. The Sandwich Shop at Buccan is a local favorite for grab and go gourmet sandwiches for lunch (ideal to carry to a beach picnic just two blocks away).
Two other fashionable spots in the heart of town are The Leopard Lounge at the historic Chesterfield Hotel, and the CPB restaurant at The Colony, which overlooks the tropical gardens and pool or their stylish bar.
Another local favorite is Palm Beach Grille and The Honor Bar, located in Royal Poinciana Plaza. Both spots are owned by the popular Hillstone Group (Houston’s). Look for polished service, a refined atmosphere, and specialties like fried oysters, and Dover Sole.
Almond is a relative newcomer to the island, opening in time for last season, but New York aficionados will know the name and the excellent food from locations in Bridgehampton and New York City.
The Breakers Resort
My favorite watering holes are the famed Ta-boo on Worth Avenue, which also serves a great lunch and dinner as well as happy hour, and The Seafood Bar at The Breakers, overlooking the Ocean, with its catchy fish tank bar. HMF, the swanky lounge in The Breakers is reminiscent of a high end cruise ship, and boasts one of four Wine Spectator Grand Awards in the entire State of Florida!
Heading off the island of Palm Beach, the only other spot in Southeast Florida with a Grand Award is the renowned Marcello’s La Sirena, across the bridge in West Palm Beach. It is a favorite for locals for classic regional Italian cuisine made with amore by Marcello Fiorentino (note: Marcello’s is usually closed during the summer months, so definitely inquire in advance, if they are open, it is worth a trip off the island for some of his fresh pasta, seafood, and veal dishes, as well as desserts. It is a true family affair, you will often see Marcello’s wife Diane greeting customers and his daughter helping out.
Photos courtesy of Marcello’s La Sirena.
If you’re staying on the south end or in Manalapan and want to venture off island, Paradiso in Lake Worth is a must! Owned by veteran restaurateur and chef Angelo Romano who hails from the Sorrento area of Italy, his fresh pastas and delicate treatment of things like seafood and zucchini flowers will have your mouth watering. Another top choice in Lantana/Lake Worth is The Station House. If you’re missing Lobster Bakes in New England, you’ll feel a lot better after a visit here.
Above: Lobster Salad at Restoration Hardware. Below: Salad with Florida Key West Pink Shrimp at The Regional.
Other “off island” recommendations are Grato by Clay Conley, a rustic Italian gastro pub in West Palm, The Regional, a southern themed restaurant by top chef Lindsey Autry near The Kravis Center. Avocado Grill is a favorite for anything Avocado with a Mexican/California theme and great cocktails and some nice surprises like Zucchini Flowers as well as freshly made guacamole. E.R. Bradley’s has been West Palm’s favorite watering hole for decades across from the marina, the rooftop restaurant at Restoration Hardware has great views and an urban chic vibe, and the Cafe at The Norton Museum is a nice option for lunch during an outing to the renowned museum. Back on the island, The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, “Whitehall” offers a lovely tea service overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.
Ossobuco (photo by Zuccarelli’s)
For classic family-style Italian-American by way of New York, with specialties like stuffed artichokes, sausage made in-house, great New York-style pizza, and homemade desserts, visit Zuccarelli’s, a wonderful family-run restaurant that has been a local favorite for decades, just west of I-95 on Okeechobee Blvd.
Note: Due to the COVID-19 situation and limited capacity mandates, it is a must to call ahead to inquire if an establishment is open, what their protocols are, and if accepting reservations to reserve your spot.