Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Restaurant Review: Acqua Café

There’s no denying that pasta (in all its forms) delights my soul, so when a friend raved about Acqua Café and its Italian cuisine, I knew I would happily make the trek to Palm Beach. Tucked inside an unassuming office building steps away from the ocean and just over the Lake Avenue/Lake Worth bridge, this quaint neighborhood restaurant serves quality Italian favorites with a coastal twist.

Al Fresco Hospitality Group opened this concept in early 2020, unaware of what would come. Still, thanks to its hospitality experience and resilience, Acqua Café survived the pandemic and is thriving. The family-owned veteran restaurateurs are the masterminds behind Via Mizner’s legendary Renato’s as well as Pizza Al Fresco, Al Fresco, Piccolo Mondo and Piccolo Gelato.

Millefoglie Di Melanzane

The family’s hospitality deftness and Executive Chef Pierangelo Badioli’s passion for his familial dishes are the driving forces behind Acqua Café’s popularity. The evening I visited, every seat was taken. The crowd was a mix of families, with several generations enjoying a meal together, couples on a date night and friends giggling with cocktails in hand. Its design is more contemporary than its counterparts, with sleek acrylic chairs and a dazzling glass bar bathed in blue light.

Our affable waiter expertly guided us through the menu. We started with the Millefoglie Di Melanzane ($21) and the Capesante & Gamberi Gratinati ($26). Seeing a trend here? Yes, dish names are all in Italian, but the explanations are in English. I’d suggest leaning on your waiter for suggestions based on your preferences.

San Daniele pizza

The melanzane, or eggplant stacked with fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce, was a rustic, well-executed, comforting dish. The capesante, or scallops, were accompanied by prawns in this popular Italian dish. The seafood is tossed in garlicky breadcrumbs, baked to crispy perfection, and served in shells. It comes with a small salad if you’re craving greens. We debated ordering a pizza before our pasta course, but I am thrilled we did. The San Daniele ($26) is a personal 12-inch pizza. I smelled the thin but airy crust the second it landed on our table. It also had a refreshingly light sauce, and then was topped with melted mozzarella, tart arugula, artisanal Prosciutto San Daniele and shaved Parmigiano. I’d drive back just for this pizza.

Fettuccini con Gamberi e Pesto

Before I get to the house-made pasta, I want to mention that the service was stellar. Over the span of all our courses, plates were promptly exchanged for a new place setting, and each dish arrived with serving spoons for sharing. The waiter recommended the Cappellini Alla Citronella ($36). The cappellini, similar to angel hair, was beautifully plated. The noodles had a lovely lemongrass aroma and citrus flavor and were tossed with jumbo lump crabmeat and crispy breadcrumbs. Acqua’s dedication to quality ingredients was a testament to the fact that as I savored one creamy spoonful of tiramisu after another and reflected on the amount of food I’d just consumed, I was happily surprised not to feel like I needed to be rolled out into the parking lot.


2875 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach; 561/547-0005
PARKING: Parking lot
HOURS: Lunch Mon.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.; Brunch Sat.–Sun., 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.; Dinner nightly at 5 p.m.
PRICES: $14–$48

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Christie Galeano-DeMott
Christie Galeano-DeMott
Christie is a food lover, travel fanatic, bookworm, Francophile, and she believes art in all its forms is good for the soul. When she’s not writing about the incredible dishes, people and places that capture South Florida's culture and vibe, Christie is irresistibly happy in the company of her husband and a glass of red wine.

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