Sunday, April 14, 2024

Raffaele to Debut Soon in Royal Palm Place

When Raffaele Esposito opens his elegant new restaurant in Boca’s Royal Palm Place in the next week or two, you’ll be seeing Italian cuisine a million miles removed from the veal scallopine-spaghetti ‘n’ meatballs-red sauce on everything fare that characterizes most local Italian eateries.

The Italy-born chef-restaurateur’s pedigree is impeccable. Chef at Rome’s posh Grand Hotel, original chef at New York’s famed Il Mulino, chef-owner of Raffaele in New York, for 20 years one of the city’s most acclaimed Italian restaurants.

Now, after tiring of New York winters, New York traffic, the New York lifestyle, after selling his New York restaurant, Esposito is in Boca, taking over the Royal Palm Place spot formerly home to Argentango and remaking it into a newRaffaele, bringing a taste of the Big Apple to our balmier (and so far this season hurricane-free) climes.

This new Raffaele is an airy, open space done in soothing neutral tones of beige and brown, with Italian tile floors, dangling mother-of-pearl pendant lighting, a glassed-in wine room, wood-fired pizza oven and long granite-topped bar that along with all the usual cocktail suspects, will feature Esposito’s house-made limoncello and other liqueurs.

The menu brings a bit of New York-style pricing and organization, with all appetizers priced at $13, soups and salads at $10, pastas at $18, risotti and chicken dishes at $20, fish and over-roasted meats at $30, and grilled items at $36.

Don’t look for veal scallopine, and though you will find spaghetti ‘n’ meatballs, they’re house-made meatballs stuffed with raisins and pine nuts and paired with smoked mozzarella and fresh tomato sauce. Also on the menu are not-the-same-old-same-old dishes like linguini with cabbage, sausage and pancetta in tomato-basil sauce (a favorite of Frank Sinatra at Raffaele New York); risotto with broccoli rabe, mussels and cherry tomatoes; and whole fish, suckling pig and baby lamb roasted in the wood oven.

The mostly Italian and California wine list offers everything from a $35 Pinot Grigio to a $2,400 Chateau Margaux. Also look for an extensive selection of boutique California reds (Caymus, Quintessa, Dominus) and Italian Barolos, Brunellos and Super Tuscans.

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