Review: Follow the buzz to Lynora’s, north county’s new hot spot

What the heck happened to that formerly quiet block of U.S. Highway 1, the one that would segue sleepily from Jupiter to Tequesta?

Lynora’s happened.

Lynora's sits in Jupiter's new Inlet Plaza. (Contributed by Lynora's)
Lynora’s sits in Jupiter’s new Inlet Plaza. (Credit: Michael Price)

The new Italian restaurant is the north county outpost of a lively Clematis Street spot. And it seems the owners have brought some of that downtown West Palm Beach verve to northern Jupiter.

Just try to walk in and find a table on any given night, even on a weeknight. More than likely, you’ll find there’s a wait. It’s a smallish restaurant that can accommodate 89 diners scattered throughout its main dining room, indoor bar and al fresco patio.

What’s the draw? Certainly not the location. There’s no water view or people-watching potential on the patio. The restaurant sits in a commercial plaza that faces U.S. Highway 1. Sure, it’s a spiffy-new, Bermudian-style plaza, but the view it offers is parking lot and passing cars.

And yet, Lynora’s possesses that “it” factor restaurateurs crave: vibe. It’s an animated spot. You pick up the chatter as you squeeze past the bar and in between tables, feeling like the dinner party guest of a large, merry family. On Sundays, the restaurant hosts a Clematis Street-style brunch replete with red-sneakered servers in “Legalize Marinara” t-shirts and bottomless Bellinis, mimosas, bloodies and Peroni (for $18).

All this in a neo-Brooklyn setting of warm woods, subway tile and simple furnishings.

Old school Italian, re-imagined at Lynora's. (Contributed by Lynora's)
Old school Italian, re-imagined at Lynora’s. (Credit: Michael Price)

The food stands in striking contrast to the hip décor. It’s old-school home cooking, red-sauce specials, comfort grub.

That’s because Lynora’s roots are in a bygone Italian restaurant owned and operated by Ralph and Maria Abbenante, the parents of current owner Angelo Abbenante. That now-closed family restaurant, also named Lynora’s, stood for years on Lake Worth Road. (Lynora’s is named after Maria’s mother.)

Angelo Abbenante wanted to bring back the spirit of that restaurant. He and a partner opened a modernized version of the restaurant, Lynora’s Osteria, in 2014. But that collaboration ended in a lawsuit and the owners went their separate ways. Abbenante and his family remained at Lynora’s, dropping the “Osteria” from the name.

Legal matters aside, the food endured. This is not food that rises to astonishing levels, but it is food that would draw me back again and again. It is simple and well prepared by Lynora’s Italian chef, Mario Mette. The sauces are on-point, the servings abundant. It hits the spot.

On a recent visit, our party of three skipped the varied, classic antipasti offerings (bruschetta crostini, $6, cheese/meat plate, $22, fried rice balls, $8, fried calamari, $14, among other dishes), and started our meal with a shared “piccante” pizza ($14).

Topped with pepperoni, salami, mozzarella and cherry peppers (hence the spicy name), this wood-oven-baked pie popped with flavor. The crust, of medium thickness, puffed up on the edges, sending the toppings toward the middle. Even so, the deliciously chewy dough did not go to waste.

For main course, we sampled Lynora’s homemade pappardelle, wide noodles tossed with duck ragu (pappardelle all’anatra, $26). It’s an earthy dish that’s particularly appetizing on a crisp or chilly night. The pasta is bathed in a brandy-spiked sauce of roasted duck and porcini mushrooms and presents just a hint of truffle essence.

Chicken Francese on a recent night at Lynora's Jupiter. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Chicken Francese at Lynora’s, Jupiter. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

The Pollo Francese (chicken in lemon sauce, $24) did not disappoint. A lightly battered chicken breast was served on a bed of linguine in the bright Francese sauce. Mounded beneath two pounded chicken fillets on a flat plate, the pasta seemed incidental on this dish. The shape of the plate made it difficult to twirl and scoop up the linguine, so much of that delicious sauce remained on the plate.

We also sampled the Braciole con Gnocchi ($24), which is listed as one of Lynora’s classic dishes. This rolled-up meat favorite is made with pork that’s folded with prosciutto, garlic and Parmesan, braised in a light tomato sauce and served with small gnocchi dumplings. This is a homey, rib-sticking dish, but the monotone flavors of the meat and pasta could have used some contrast, perhaps from a pop of bitter greens.

Eggplant Parm is offered as an appetizer at Lynora's Jupiter. (LibbyVision.com)
Eggplant Parm, offered as an app at Lynora’s Jupiter. (Credit: LibbyVision.com)

Dessert time brought us a couple of memorable bites: a classic tiramisu stacked high with ladyfingers and mascarpone layers ($10), and a warm and sinful Nutella lava cake ($10) that was served with a tumbler of vanilla ice cream on the side.

Our dishes were delivered promptly, as, despite the bustle, service is brisk and professional. However, I did feel rushed. And our server did that “I’ll take this when you’re ready” thing, dropping off the check before we could request it.

Sometimes, I take the check nudge as an opportunity to ask for something else, say, a cappuccino. But, truth be told, I didn’t want a cappuccino, and I didn’t want a perfectly nice dinner to end on a sour note.

The service slip will not keep me from returning to the restaurant. Untimely check aside, Lynora’s is a fetching spot that brings a little buzz where it’s needed.

REVIEW

Lynora’s Jupiter

FOOD: B

SERVICE: B-

ADDRESS:  1548 U.S. Highway 1 (Inlet Plaza), Jupiter

TELEPHONE: 561-203-2702

WEBSITE: Lynoras.com

PRICE RANGE: Moderate

HOURS: Open for dinner daily at 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

CREDIT CARDS: All major credit cards

RESERVATIONS: Taken only for parties of 8 or more; can reserve at 561-203-2702

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes, including restrooms

NOISE LEVEL: Lively, more manageable on the patio.

FULL BAR: Yes, and there’s a separate bar area. A happy-hour menu is served daily from 4 to 7 p.m. at the bar, with a late night happy hour offered from 10 to 11:30 p.m.

WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:
A — Excellent
B — Good
C — Average
D — Poor
F — Don’t bother

Which restaurant in downtown West Palm Beach got an A rating for food?

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Hullabaloo’s grouper cheeks are cooked with lemon, capers, white wine and artichokes and served with crispy hearts of palm. (Contributed by LibbyVision.com)

Here’s our weekly look back at some of our recommended dining experiences:

Hullabaloo:

Seduction is instant at Hullabaloo, restaurateur Rodney Mayo’s hip spot on Clematis Street’s eclectic 500 block.

If the well-curated beer and wine lists don’t entice you, the gastro pub’s menu will. As one bold dish after another steams out of the kitchen, they carry a sense of familiar comfort that mirrors the shabby-fresh setting.

Clematis dining district regulars flock to this eatery, where executive chef Fritz Cassel has been creating excellent, soulful pub dishes — from bar bites to brunch to large plates — for more than three years. As a result, the place is bustling, so be prepared to wait for a table.

At Hullabaloo, with its speakeasy feel, its indoor and outdoor dining options, its spare walls hung with moody black-and-white photographs (rock on, Sid Vicious), the wait seems almost effortless.

If you go:

Hullabaloo: 517 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-833-1033

2013 review rating: FOOD: A-; SERVICE: B

Related: Read the full review – Hullabaloo in West Palm Beach offers bold, flavorful dishes

 

South county dining: Messy, juicy burgers a must at Boca restaurant

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An Inside-Out Juicy Lucy Burger prepared at M.E.A.T. Eatery and Tap Room restaurant located in Boca Raton. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

The Inside-Out Juicy Lucy, aside from being juicy (and a burger), is a messy girl. Her smoky char envelops a heap of pimento cheese, which melts and dribbles all over the place.

The mess is inevitable when you pick up this beast of a burger at MEAT Eatery & Taproom in Boca Raton and attempt a bite. A fork and knife won’t do much to contain the cheesy, saucy mess.

But she’s worth it. Just one in MEAT’s lineup of stellar burgers, the Juicy Lucy is made better by a side of the eatery’s decadent duck fat fries.

Open since July 2014, MEAT Eatery anchors a first-floor corner of the Cendyn Spaces (shared office space) building and warms up the corporate setting. One of my favorite reasons to dine here involves MEAT’s sweet side, namely its milkshakes crafted with homemade Nutella ice cream. MEAT spikes one Nutella shake with Guinness.

It’s the most heavenly sip – and, unlike the messy Lucy, it’s easily shareable.

If you go: MEAT Eatery & Taproom

ADDRESS: 980 N Federal Highway (Cendyn Spaces building), Boca Raton

TELEPHONE: 561-419-2600

2014 review rating: FOOD: A; SERVICE: B+

Related: Full dining review – Juicy Lucy! Home Wrecker! Boca burger eatery is eclectic experience

Related: 15 best burgers in Palm Beach County

This restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens got a great review by the Post!

photo the cooper restaurant
An artisanal cheese board is served at The Cooper in Palm Beach Gardens. Varieties of cheese and sliced meats can be custom-picked by the diner. (Contributed by LibbyVision.com)

This our weekly look back at some of our recommended dining experiences:

With a farmhouse-meets-glam setting, lively ambiance and delicious grub, The Cooper is decidedly (still) the new hot spot on PGA Boulevard’s dining corridor in Palm Beach Gardens.

The concept is stylized – and beautifully so. But there’s more than “farm-to-table” concept going on here. The menu is friendly to all palates, appetites and food preferences, as The Cooper — which serves lunch, dinner and a popular Sunday brunch — offers snacks, small plates and heftier portions.

Thanks to The Cooper’s executive chef, Adam Brown, the dishes are not simply a composition of ingredients, but a celebration of them. A seasonal veggie plate takes on a sumptuous dimension as the “Farmer’s Market Vegetable Palette.” Brown’s flavor-forward style shines through in the simplest of condiments, such as the bright and herby salsa verde that accompanies The Cooper’s steaks.

The Cooper Craft Kitchen & Bar: 4610 PGA Blvd. (Suite 100, PGA Commons), Palm Beach Gardens; 561-622-0032.

Related: Full dining review – Cooper is the new destination dining spot on PGA Corridor

Related: Six new-ish restaurants in Jupiter and Tequesta

 

Restaurant news: Park Avenue BBQ in Jupiter to open within week

The chalkboard sign outside Park Avenue BBQ's Tequesta branch says farewell to customers. (Larry Aydlette/The Palm Beach Post)
The chalkboard sign outside Park Avenue BBQ’s Tequesta branch says farewell to customers. (Photos: Larry Aydlette/The Palm Beach Post)

Saturday was the last call for barbecue, wings and burgers at Park Avenue BBQ in Tequesta.

The long-time branch of the local restaurant chain has closed as it gets ready to open a new location on Indiantown Drive in Jupiter, in the old Applebee’s near the I-95 interchange.

Wait staff said the new Jupiter location should be open in about a week.

There are a couple of questions for long-time customers of the old location:

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What happens to the Pabst Blue Ribbon ceiling mural? It apparently won’t fit in the industrial-style ceiling of the new location, but wait staff said Saturday that it might end up in another Park Avenue location.

And here’s hoping they don’t forget the Elvis sign:

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Which restaurant in Lake Park got an A rating for food, service?

photo pelican restaurant
Mom Howe’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake from The Pelican Cafe in Lake Park. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Every detail carries a message at the Pelican Café in Lake Park: Yes, somebody’s home.

It’s as subtle as the string of tiny lights that illuminate the historic house where the cafe has operated since 2008. It reinforces the feeling that this is a “special occasion” spot, one that’s not necessarily fancy but one that is fine, with fine service, excellent food and a vintage setting that wraps you in its arms.

Chef Mark Frangione, who co-owns the cafe with wife, Karen Howe, takes inspiration from his Italian root, in delectable dishes from Mom Frangione’s Sunday Pasta to Shrimp Scampi.

If you go: Pelican Café: 612 U.S. 1, Lake Park; 561-842-7272

2014 review rating: FOOD: A, SERVICE: A

Related: Our full dining review – Pelican Café- A dining experience for special occasions

photo pelican cafe
Owners Karen Howe and Mark Frangione stand inside The Pelican Cafe. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

 

What we love about Krave restaurant in Tequesta

photo Krave restaurant
View of a peanut encrusted Ahi Tuna, and soba noodle salad, with bok choy, daikon radish, snow peas, peppers, ginger, onions, thai peanut sauce at Krave restaurant. (Bill Ingram / Palm Beach Post)

Krave is a small, luxe restaurant that’s tucked into a Tequesta strip mall, where you’re in the capable hands of Mike Rolchigo, an accomplished and talented chef. The restaurant offers modern American dishes, from duck egg roll starters to an entree of peanut-encrusted ahi tuna, fashioned with fresh, eclectic ingredients. This fancy fare is artistically presented on the plate (Rolchigo is a grad of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in both culinary and pastry arts).

But here’s the big reveal: as fancy as it is, the food is accessible and delicious. Rolchigo is not one to do pretty for pretty’s sake. He delivers sumptuous dishes, but it is food you’d return for again and again.

If you go: Krave Restaurant & Wine Bar, 626 U.S. 1, Tequesta; 561-575-9222

2014 review rating: FOOD: A; SERVICE: A

Related: Full dining review of Krave – Small Tequesta eatery serves big, imaginative dishes

 

Critic’s pick: good beer and gastro pub grub in Delray Beach

Tryst, Delray Beach. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)
Tryst, Delray Beach. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)

South county pick: TRYST

Tryst in Delray Beach epitomizes the gastro pub concept with inspired plates, a free-wheeling selection of craft beers, boutique wines and cocktails and an eclectic setting for nightly dinner and drinks. (Check Tryst’s Facebook page for terrific nightly specials.)

A homey brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring some country-style breakfast items as well as burgers and sandwiches.

You may not know this, but there’s a bacon omelet with Vermont cheddar and sweet peppers calling your name.

Tryst: 4 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561-921-0201; TrystDelray.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

 

Critic’s pick: baklava and belly dancing in Northwood

A variety of mezze dishes are served at Agora Mediterranean Kitchen in the Northwood district of West Palm Beach. (LibbyVision.com)
Mezze madness at Agora Mediterranean Kitchen, West Palm Beach. (LibbyVision.com)

Central county pick: AGORA MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN

Travel to Turkey without leaving this friendly eatery in West Palm Beach. Go the mezze route, dabbling in Aegean dips, dolma (stuffed grape leaves), grilled octopus and other small plates. Or feast on fish dishes such as red snapper in parchment, or a range of Mediterranean classics.

Salads are outstanding – and ample. Desserts are homemade. And if you over-do the calorie count on a Friday or Saturday night, you can always burn it off when the belly dancing starts at about 8 p.m.

Agora Mediterranean Kitchen: 2505 N. Dixie Highway, Northwood district, West Palm Beach; 561-651-7474; AgoraKitchenWPB.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

 

Critic’s pick: nice-price wines at Lake Park’s Pelican Café

A selection of wines inside The Pelican Cafe in Lake Park on May 16, 2014. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
The Pelican Cafe, Lake Park. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)

North county pick: PELICAN CAFÉ

The owners of Lake Park’s charming Pelican Café have returned from vacation in a generous mode. After a short break, they reopened the eatery last week with a terrific “fall back” deal:

All wines by the glass or bottle are half-price through the end of October. The café’s wine selection offers spot-on pairings for the Pelican’s Italian-centric menu.

Bonus: Dine between 5 and 6 p.m. and get 20 percent off your entire check. Reservations are strongly suggested for dinner. Closed Mondays. See full hours on the café’s website.

Pelican Café: 612 US Highway 1, Lake Park; 561-842-7272; ThePelicanCafe.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda