Location: 2800 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach, 561/533-3750
Jové is named for the Italian god of the sky. It’s not inappropriate, as the folks at the Four Seasons Palm Beach were in fact reaching for the heights when it came to reconstituting their premier restaurant—formerly bearing the grimly unimaginative moniker of “The Restaurant”—as a tony outpost of modern, inventive Italian-inspired food and drink.
To be honest, many of these big-time corporate “rebrandings” chiefly involve slapping a veneer of lipstick on the same tired pig and hiring a PR agency to brag about it. But resort executive chef Darryl Moiles, restaurant chef Mauro Zanusso, general manager Karma Tsepal and the rest of the Four Seasons’ crew really did rethink, rework and redo damn near everything, crafting a wholly new restaurant from the ground up, with a careful eye on the twin missions of today’s high-end hotel eateries: 1) inviting in a younger, hipper, more foodie-oriented clientele, while 2) not scaring off the older, more conservative diners that have traditionally been such hotels’ house-baked bread and imported European butter.
That Jové works so well at both is a tribute and a pleasure, as it allows you to dine as the mood strikes you, modestly adventurous or safely classical. You can even dine modestly, at least as far as price goes, as Jové offers both thin-crusted stone-fired pizzas and commendable pastas, all but one under $20. And dine we did, though rather less modestly, beginning with a half-dozen glistening Malpeque oysters, slippery nuggets of sweetbriny lusciousness that required only the merest squeeze of lemon to highlight their freshfrom- the-sea flavor.
Then it was on to the chef’s sublime interpretation of the classic vitello tonnato, quarter-sized coins of fork-tender veal loin, fanned in a circle over a pool of tuna sauce like liquid silk and garnished with fried capers, oven-dried tomatoes, a handful of infantile greens and two witty, chef-inspired touches—a tiny poached quail egg infused with coffee and twin sticks of celery given a bright-tasting jolt of lemon.
We practically lapped up the creamy Gorgonzola sauce that graced pillow-y gnocchi laced with figs, then we sat back to await our entrées. A snowy-white fillet of flounder was the night’s lone disappointment. Though not the freshest piece of fish I’ve ever eaten, it may have been the saltiest, something the accompanying leek fondue and terrific little layered potato cake were helpless to remedy.
A duet of lamb, however, returned the universe to its rightful order, a pair of thick-cut chops and slices off the loin with goat cheese, lamb jus and house-made mint jelly. The combination of flavors—salty sweet, meaty, herbal—is like a party for your taste buds.
So too is the plush, satiny lemon panna cotta, a suave lily gilded with prosecco jelly, sweet-tart blackberry granite and (inexplicably) strands of fried pasta. A traditional Italian dessert, meringata di lampone, a sort of meringue tart with flakes of bitter chocolate and raspberry sorbet, could have used more chocolate and sorbet and less meringue, though when you’re reaching for the sky, grabbing a handful of clouds once in a while comes with the territory.
Raising the Bar
The inventiveness of Jové’s kitchen extends to the bar, where classic cocktails made with premium spirits are poured alongside complex concoctions that use an array\ of house-made infusions, syrups and garnishes. I was particularly taken with\ the Fernet Branca Manhattan, which gives the traditional Manhattan a kick with the famously bitter Italian digestif, California’s boutique Breaking & Entering bourbon, high-end Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, Angostura bitters and a juicy brandied cherry. It’s pricy at $16, but it makes a lovely pre- or post-dinner cocktail.
IF YOU GO
PRICES: Entrées $14–$120 (for two)
HOURS: Daily 5:30–10 p.m.
For more from our dining guide, pick up the February issue of Boca Raton. You can also subscribe here.