Royal Palm Place
508 Via De Palmas
Boca Raton, FL 33431
Reviewed & Photographed by: Tom House
Welcome to South Florida Chef Raffaele Esposito! After a long stint in New York City, Raffaele has brought his namesake restaurant to Boca Raton, Florida, in search of sun, sea and even more success.
We enjoyed our first visit to this restaurant in Royal Palm Place, and were pleased to discover Chef Esposito’s own unique spin on Italian food. We know better than most just how many Italian restaurants there are in the Sunshine State, so it was a relief to finally taste some creative, sun-inspired cuisine with roots true to Naples and Southern Italy.
A wood burning oven lends its flavor to more than ten pizzas and calzones from the creative menu, and the temperature I am told
can be upward of 800 degrees F. Chef Raffaele is happy to show you around the restaurant when you enter, and he knows how to make you feel at home right away. There is a stunning bar area directly adjacent to the entrance, where you can order any kind of spirits you can imagine, all complimented by a very impressive wine list too.
As Antipasti, we enjoyed some simple pizza from the wood burning oven along with some not so simple Salmon Cakes, made just like a crab cake. It was already clear that we were in good gastronomical hands, complimented by Raffaele’s sharp, well trained servers.
The chef would be sending out the foods of his choice, and we started with an appetizer plate of three different taste treats. Beautifully displayed were smoked salmon wrapped around asparagus and topped with goat cheese, a puffed potato shell topped with snails, leeks and cherry tomatoes and grilled shitake mushrooms with scallops and leeks. All equally interesting and delicious, but our favorite was the puffed potato and snails. No one serves snails anymore, so this was a nice surprise.
Let’s try some pasta! Chef Esposito’s Stuffed Rigatoni with veal and mixed vegetables in a light pink sauce was so full of savory goodness. A Positano – Inspired Risotti (Positano is a village on the Amalfi Coast in Campania, Italy) made with chick peas, zucchini and mussels was outstanding! I often decide just how good a chef is by how they make risotto, and I now know that Chef Raffeale is great!
A palate cleansing Sicilian Insalate was placed before us, simply made with Florida oranges, red onions, black olives and dressed ever-so lightly with lemon and olive oil. A twist on the salty / sweet concept I had yet to try… we all loved it.
We were sipping hand selected Italian wines with each course, and had wisely paced ourselves for the main courses to come. Soon the glorious entrees arrived, starting with Quaglia Ripiene. This Quail stuffed with sausage, pignoli, raisins and pancetta in a light sauce was tremendous. The small bird was so meaty
and the stuffing brought the whole dish together. Next we marveled at Sautéed Branzino, finished with a most unusual pomegranate sauce and fresh mint. This is one you’d have to try to believe. Chef Esposito brings cutting edge concepts to his already proven culinary prowess. We were sold!
We finished off a wonderful dining experience with two awesome and equally unusual desserts. Tiramisu made with fresh pineapple, along with Pistachio Mousse with strawberry sauce. Chef Raffaele Esposito’s food reads well, but tastes even better. We enjoyed a small but powerful sampling of the delicious food being served here, but there are at least fifty different items on the dinner
menu to choose from, and that is not including pizzas and desserts. We also counted 100 excellent bottles of wine to on his extensive list. Lunch is being served too, and we began planning out next visit before getting up from our seats. There is more information about Raffaele Ristorante on Facebook.
Take a detour from the usual Italian fare offered in the tri-county area of South Florida. Make your reservations soon at Raffaele Ristorante, and tell them Tom House from Dinnerreviews.com© sent you. It’s just like coming home for dinner. Boun appetito!