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Some of the most innovative, James Beard Award-winningest chefs in Florida are turning the shopping-and-golfing paradise of Palm Beach Gardens into a fine-dining capital.
Over the past six months, talented chefs like Jeremy Ford (Stubborn Seed) and Lindsay Autry (The Regional), and big-name hospitality outfits like Major Food Group (New York’s Carbone) have muscled into the region locals call North County.
Let’s be blunt: These aren’t first-time restaurateurs gambling their life savings on fast-casual mom-and-pops. These are multi-hyphenate tastemakers with accolades attached to their names. They’re experimenting with Southern cuisine, turning out cutting-edge Indian dishes, firing prime steak cuts plated with cabernet beef jus reductions.
These are destination restaurants in an ocean of country clubs designed to draw diners from Miami and Orlando and beyond.
These restaurateurs with stellar track records are out to change two misconceptions about Palm Beach Gardens.
One: South Florida’s mighty arsenal of local cuisine doesn’t stop at the West Palm Beach border. And two: Don’t let its vast wonderland of golf courses deceive you – and there are 160, by the way, in the county – but Palm Beach Gardens is officially a food town.
“This area used to be a retirement-type town,” says chef Tim Lipman, 42, who in February combined his two restaurants, small-plates eatery Coolinary Café and cocktail lounge Parched Pig, under one roof in the Shops of Donald Ross Village.
“The pandemic changed everything,” he adds. “Now there’s more Northeasterners who are accustomed to seeing great restaurants, and young professionals are moving north wanting the same thing: an elevated dining experience.”
Put another way: “Wining and dining is big in Palm Beach Gardens,” says chef Pushkar Marathe, chef-owner of upcoming Indian restaurant Ela.
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Coolinary and the Parched Pig
Like a rock supergroup, Coolinary and the Parched Pig merges Tim and Jenny Lipman’s pair of popular, chef-driven restaurants – 10-year-old New American kitchen Coolinary Café and its 4-year-old sibling tapas bar, the Parched Pig – into a mega-size, upscale restaurant-pub.
Coolinary, serving lunch and dinner, reopened in December in the suburban Donald Ross Village strip mall after the Lipmans knocked down the walls at Parched Pig, doubling the kitchen size with a new wood-burning oven and revamped menu. And chef Tim Lipman’s ambitious menu changes constantly – every two weeks – with entrees like jalapeno-cheddar waffles with coleslaw, white bean cassoulette and orange ginger pork belly.
“The wood-burning oven opens up a whole catalog of recipes, changing the outcome of the dish because of the cooking source,” Tim Lipman, 42, says. “One of our dishes was crispy fingerling potatoes par-cooked in a court-bouillon and seared on the plancha with herbs, olive oil and pickled mustard seed. But what if I cooked it in the oven with local Florida oak? Vastly different taste.”
The 120-seater will also feature Parched Pig’s cocktail program and tapas-style plates, such as a la carte oysters and charcuterie boards, says Lipman, whose Coolinary Café opened its doors in 2012 as one of the area’s first destination restaurants.
“Now there’s all this money pouring into the area,” Lipman says. “It’s a very affluent demographic that well-cultured and well-traveled. And we’re shifting along with it.”
4650 Donald Ross Road. Opening in May.
The moment chef Pushkar Marathe opened Stage Kitchen & Bar on PGA Boulevard a month before the pandemic, diners warned him that his globally inspired Indian cuisine was “too adventurous for the neighborhood.” Marathe (Meat Market in Palm Beach, Ghee Indian Kitchen in Coral Gables, 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale) respectfully disagreed, and as lockdowns commenced, takeout orders flooded the phone lines for Indian-spiced chicken liver paté and heritage pork vindaloo over basmati grits.
It was customer demand for more common Indian dishes – butter chicken masala – that inspired Ela, Marathe’s new traditional Indian restaurant in the Donald Ross Village plaza.
Pronounced “EE-la” (a Sanskrit word meaning “cardamom”), Ela takes over the 2,200-square-foot space once occupied by chef Tim Lipman’s Coolinary Café and will open in May, he says. Like much of his cuisine, the 65-seater will draw from Marathe’s upbringing in India’s state of Maharashtra and serve meals thali-style, in which multiple bowls and dishes are served at the same time on a large platter. Ela, a partnership between Marathe and Stage co-owner Andrew Dugard (Buccan, Imoto), will serve lunch and dinner.
“With thali-style, it’s a feast on one plate,” explains Marathe, 37, a former Deerfield Beach resident who moved to Jupiter last July. “You get legumes and lentils on the plate, but it will be a balanced meal with chutneys, pickles, bread and rice, and seafood or meat or vegetarian. You’re on a journey of textures and flavors in one plate.”
Part of the menu will include a la carte Indian street food such as vada pav, a deep-fried potato fritter inside a bread bun. Entrees will include bone-in kolhapuri chicken curry.
400 Avenue of the Champions at PGA National Resort & Spa; 561-627-4852, PGAResort.com
Jeremy Ford knew nothing about Palm Beach Gardens until his friend and onetime cohort at Fort Lauderdale’s 3030 Ocean, Pushkar Marathe, made a fat pandemic success out of Stage Kitchen & Bar.
“I was scared about Palm Beach Gardens, like, what if summers are slow up there?” says Ford, 36, a “Top Chef” Season 13 winner and current co-host of TruTV’s cooking series, “Fast Foodies.” “But Pushkar really paved the way and convinced me to give it a swing.”
And Ford needed to swing big after the food-as-art creations at his first restaurant, Stubborn Seed in Miami Beach, drew “hottest new restaurant” nods by everyone from Zagat to Eater to Entrepreneur Magazine.
A modern twist on a 1950s-era steakhouse, The Butcher’s Club has done 250 covers a night since opening in January, serving starters like Gruyère cheese puffs, a raw seafood bar, dry-aged prime cuts and familiar holdovers from Stubborn Seed, like Belle & Evans truffle chicken and butternut squash agnolotti. The true hero of his entrees is not a flashy 50-ounce Wagyu tomahawk but, rather, Ford’s four signature sauces: a beef-fat hollandaise, a cabernet beef jus reduction, creamy peppercorn with shallots and a chicken jus reduced down from chicken feet.
Ford’s sauces take hours to make in stock pots – “It’s a real hey-don’t-burn-it situation,” Ford says – but is deftly handled by Gama Santiago and Alejandro Rodriguez, two lead chefs he poached from Stubborn Seed.
“My new chefs love it up there,” says Ford, who averages three nights a week in the Butcher’s Club kitchens. “One of them is trying to get me into golfing now.”
400 Avenue of the Champions at PGA National Resort & Spa; 561-627-2000, PGAResort.com
When her Regional Kitchen went dark in West Palm Beach for 17 months in the pandemic, chef-owner Lindsay Autry laid off 75 employees, cooked private dinners for wealthy Palm Beachers and developed a chef training program for Feeding South Florida Boynton Beach.
But Autry found her biggest silver lining in HoneyBelle. The all-day, 7,500-square-foot eatery – the ground-floor centerpiece of PGA National Resort’s big overhaul – opened in February and serves what the 39-year-old James Beard semifinalist does best: Mediterranean dishes and Southern fixings.
“Yeah, it’s hard for me to do anything that doesn’t involve Southern cooking,” admits Autry, a “Top Chef” alum who lives in Palm Beach Gardens with husband David Sabin and 2-year-old Jack. “It’s exciting knowing our area up here, the sleepier side of Palm Beach County, has come into its own.”
HoneyBelle’s 305-seat dining room (180 seats under a covered patio) evokes what Autry calls a “Golden Girls vibe,” with peach-tropical wallpaper, gold-accented rattan chairs and midcentury terrazzo floors. HoneyBelle may share its Southern DNA with Regional Kitchen, but there are stark differences, she says. The dinner menu, launching early April, includes entrees such as hot-honey infused half-chicken with seasonal veggie slaw, biscuits, mashed potatoes and pan gravy, and Berkshire pork chop with stone-ground grits and cider gastrique.
For now HoneyBelle is open for breakfast and lunch, serving wood-fired pizzas and breakfast buffets for daytime resort guests.
The Burt Rapoport-backed restaurant brand that tantalized South Florida diners in the ‘90s with Italian-American classics was revived in 2017 in Boca Raton – and now it’s in Palm Beach Gardens.
The upscale eatery had a grand-opening in December under new managing partner Eddie Pozzuoli, replacing Laurent Tourondel’s short-lived Scusi trattoria, a sumptuous red-brick space Pozzuoli describes as “like buying a certified pre-owned from Mercedes.”
Yes, a complimentary bread basket loaded with focaccia and roasted garlic knobs still greets diners when they sit, he says. Prezzo trades in highbrow interpretations of lowbrow comforts, such as chicken Milanese, penne alla vodka, shrimp fra diavolo and frutti di mare, all made by executive chef Julian Bernal (formerly of Rapoport’s Apiero).
A 14-ounce veal-chop parmesan, pounded super-thin, is the most-popular dish, because it’s “as big as the entire width of a pizza plate,” Pozzuoli says. Thursday-only chef specials get more adventurous – but not much more – such as cauliflower steak with garlic aioli.
Prezzo’s clientele ranges from country-club locals to recent New York transplants to young millennial professionals buying homes in the area, all of which makes Pozzuoli bullish about Palm Beach Gardens.
“In five years the city will be at its pinnacle, hustling and bustling with great indie restaurants and young families,” Pozzuoli says. “This area will keep thriving because people are betting on it to thrive.”
11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave., Suite 3115. Opening this summer.
One of New York’s first pandemic migrants to South Florida, fast-growing empire Major Food Group opened local eateries at a rapid clip these past two years: Carbone in Miami, Sadelle’s in Coconut Grove, The Flamingo Grill in Boca.
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Now comes Parm, a beloved Little Italy mainstay debuting sometime this summer within the Downtown Palm Beach Gardens plaza, which delivers Italian-American comfort classics with nostalgic simplicity: chicken parm heroes, baked ziti, rigatoni in pink sauce. An intentional throwback to red-sauce joints, cooks wear white paper hats and serve appetizers – homemade meatballs, “mozz” sticks, crusty garlic bread – in red plastic baskets.
Food critic Pete Wells, in a New York Times review, once raved that Parm’s Italian approach is “completely faithful to your memories while being much, much better than you remember.” Newsweek called it one of 101 best restaurants to eat in North America.
“There’s isn’t a single dish on that menu that you haven’t had before, but this will be the best version of it,” says co-owner Jeff Zalaznick, who runs Parm with Major Food Group partner-chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi. “That’s the approach we take with all our restaurants. It helps move Italian-American cuisine forward and gives people more casual access to it.”
Zalaznick says he picked Parm’s 5,000-square-foot kitchen in Palm Beach Gardens after realizing the city’s growth over the past two years.
“Palm Beach Gardens is way more attractive now,” he says. “I saw pretty quickly after a few months that not only did I love it here, but there were huge business opportunities with our style of food and hospitality.”
Other dishes include Sunday salad and fusilli Bolognese, pork Milanese and eggplant Parmesan, with 12 sandwiches and ice-cream cake for dessert.