Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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Society Bites: Da Francesco an Organic Palm Beach Eatery

June 10th, 2009 · 3 Comments

It’s all about the green at this new nightclub/restaurant

By Thom Smith, columnist

Palm Beachers are green — in so many ways. Money, of course, comes to mind first, but islanders like to do their part for the environment, too. And the arrival of da Francesco at 251 Sunrise gives them ample opportunity to practice la vita verde.

Food is sourced locally

Thom Smith

Thom Smith

For several years, they’ve had to venture off the island to find new vistas. With this new bistro and club at the north end, they can stay closer to home. That means less gas, fewer fumes, a definite plus. Equally as important, Frank Cilione, Nick Oberhuber and chef Seth Kirschbaum have conjured up a green menu. Just about everything is a product of Palm Beach County from eggs to lettuce to the pizza sauce. At the bar, you can order the normal stock of high end beverages – from champagne, the ultimate natural product — to beers and teas.
After a couple of delays, da Francesco opened June 4 with a VIP party that had guests chowing down on pizza with three-grain dough and pesticide-free and preservative-free linguine topped with hormone-free meatballs.

Entrees easy on the wallet

Very un-Palm Beachy, however, is the tab. All entrees are priced below $20.
“We’ve learned a few things over the years,” said Cilione, a New Yorker whose first local projects were the nightclub Liquid and the “Asian-moderne” Tsunami, both in West Palm’s CityPlace. “Most importantly, good, natural food doesn’t have to be expensive. We use the best ingredients, but we keep it simple and well-prepared. We believe the situation is ripe for this kind of place in Palm Beach.”

Chef from Lauderdale’s Sublime restaurant

Kirschbaum is no stranger to natural foods. A product of New York’s French Culintary Institute, he was lured to da Francesco from Sublime, the top organic restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.
Nestled at the west end of the ageless, colonnaded Palm Beach Hotel on Sunrise Avenue, the space has gone through so many configurations that only a historian could keep count.
Two decades ago it was La Trattoria di Capri, a moderately-priced Italian bistro with the occasional added attraction of owner Rosaria Pallavicino occasionally singing with the house band. At the turn of the century (21st), it was 251 Sunrise, essentially a nightclub where entertainers such as Clarence Clemons attracted guests such as Donald Trump. Until Cilione and company took over, it housed Capri Blu, which had relocated from West Palm Beach. Now it’s 251 Sunrise again.
However, the previous incarnations were either restaurants or night clubs; Cilione has set up for both, with one room for bar patrons and another – with separate entrance – for da Francesca. He’ll use the usually slow summer to work out the kinks and prepare the back patio for outdoor fun.

Da Francesca at 251 Sunrise


Thom Smith keeps up with the boldfaced names around South Florida in his Society Bites column here. Contact Thom at thomsmith@ymail.com.

Tags: Talking Tables · Thom Smith's Society Bites

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Scott Simmons // Jun 10, 2009 at 2:33 am

    Hope they can make it in that spot. Perfect opportunity for another take on “green” fare.

  • 2 Sarah // Mar 5, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    We are going to be renting a house inWest Palm Beach for a couple weeks and are looking for some good eats. We do have two little kids but both my husband and I are foodies. Any suggestions?

  • 3 Jan Norris // Mar 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    What kind of fare are you looking for – organic? West Palm Beach and the surrounding county has numerous choices…if organic/vegetarian, I’d suggest Darbster on South Dixie Highway.

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