A Sant Ambroeus for the Sunshine State

“We have been getting a lot of compliments, like, ‘Wow—this is the most beautiful Sant Ambroeus!’” explains Adil Avunduk, the general manager of Sant Ambroeus Palm Beach, which opened its doors this past December just in time for prime Palm Beach season. The Palm Beach location, at 340 Royal Poinciana Way, marks the first outside the New York market for SA Hospitality Group, Sant Ambroeus’s parent company. “The space really reflects the guests here,” Avunduk tells me. “We have some Southampton regulars, some SoHo regulars, some Madison Avenue regulars. They are all down here at the same time in winter, and we designed the restaurant to combine a little of each of the other locations here.” Regulars of the Madison Avenue location might recognize similarities to the café component, while habitués of the swanky SoHo restaurant might notice hints of the dining room from there.
Still, the new location is undeniably original and embraces the plush Palm Beach landscape, inviting nature and light indoors, with views of palm trees and bougainvillea. This is decidedly more tropical than the very original Sant Ambroeus, which from its early days in the 1930s served as a sort of stomping ground for Milan’s intelligentsia. That sense of European style and flair has not, however, diminished in any form, especially in the convivial ways of Mr. Avunduk, who greets and charms you at the door. And there are new touches and flavors to be detected at this latest ambassador of Milanese dining and style. “Guests have been noticing the wallpaper on the café side. It’s the first thing people like,” says Avunduk, pointing to how the wallpaper was made using the iconic pink Sant Ambroeus wrapping paper.

Other noticeable augmentations of the Sant Ambroeus brand can be found on the menu. Cocktails are discernibly on the refreshing side and have been created around the seasons, based on the availability of local ingredients. The menu here is also reflective of South Florida, with more of an emphasis on seafood and “local citruses and herbs to accentuate the fresh, luminous surroundings that encompass Palm Beach,” as executive chef Marco Barbisotti explains. “Colorful salads with texture, grains, and fruits highlight the simplicity of the local produce.”

Diners who come expecting the famous Vitello Tonnato, Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, or Cotoletta alla Milanese needn’t fear—such staples won’t be swept off the menu by balmy breezes anytime soon. The wine list boasts fine Italian selections, including some esoteric options from more obscure regions. One noticeable difference between the new location and its northern confreres might be found in the drinking habits of its guests. “In Palm Beach, they love their cocktails—especially vodka-based cocktails,” Avunduk points out. “In New York, it’s more about opening a bottle a wine.”
No matter what they’re drinking or how they’re eating, we all know Palm Beachers have excellent taste. And the opening of a Sant Ambroeus here proves it.