Imagine a place filled with the fresh scents of a kitchen on Capri, the sophisticated décor of a Manhattan dining room, and the elegance of a breezy Palm Beach terrace. Could this perfect trifecta of island entertaining really exist in one spot? The answer is yes. For almost 30 years, Palm Beach’s Renato’s—tucked away at the back of the bougainvillea-rimmed Via Mizner—has been perfecting the art of enduring dining excellence.
This island gem opened its doors the year I was born—the same year my family bought a home on Palm Beach. Every spring, my grandparents would take me to lunch at Renato’s to celebrate my birthday. The three of us would sit outside for hours, nestled between the orchid- and ivy-lined walls. My grandmother sipped prosecco and delighted in Dover sole, my grandfather enjoyed a glass of amarone and a practically perfect Veal Scaloppini, and I would tackle a large plate of homemade Tagliolini Bolognese. I remember listening to my grandparents share endless stories of their European travels, every memory flowing out of them across the white tablecloths, like the faint notes of the barside piano playing just above the trickling of the fountain. Only in a setting as romantic as Renato’s could their past adventures come to life as if I were navigating the roads of Rome, getting lost along the Amalfi Coast, and swigging limoncello right there along with them. Renato’s was my grandfather’s favorite restaurant—a preference I am happy to have inherited. Whenever a dessert arrives at a nearby table with a candle in it, I love to think of our afternoons at Renato’s.
Renato’s has remained a go-to lunch spot of mine for years, where my favorites include the Carpaccio di Polipo, the Granchio Agli Agrumi (jumbo lump crabmeat with avocado and cucmber), and the Dentice alla Griglia (yellowtail snapper with fresh herbs, lemon, and olive oil). A few weeks ago, my husband and I stopped by Renato’s for an impromptu date night. Thankfully, we were on the early side and just managed to snag a table outside. But even on a Sunday, we were quickly reminded that, when in season, Renato’s with “no reservation” most likely means “no way.” On perfect Palm Beach nights, the French doors of the restaurant are left open, creating an indoor-outdoor dining experience while a piano player creates a soft soundtrack for the movie set–like atmosphere.
On this night, we were seated outside under a ceiling of stars and immediately offered a cocktail. After my Bellini arrived, I noticed a threatening cloud but was assured by our amazingly attentive waiters that no rain would spoil our evening. And despite my prediction, not a drop of rain fell. Magic.
We were then encouraged by the maître d’ to enjoy our apéritifs—and each other—before saddling ourselves with the menu. It allowed us a moment to relax and take a breath. When we did make our way to the menu, I ordered the Fritto Misto (a great table share of pan-fried seafood and veggies) along with the Insalata Caprese and the Insalata Renato, which arrived glistening and fresh, featuring organic lettuces and sweet tomatoes kissed in a fragrant vinaigrette. We both followed with homemade pasta dishes: Linguine al Vongle (clams in a garlic and white wine sauce) and the Pappardelle con Vitello e Funghi (a veal and wild mushroom ragu finished with truffle oil). When pasta is done right, it feels like such an exciting indulgence, but never leaves you feeling gluttonous. This was just that. We ended with a scoop of gelato and a grappa to cap it off, because when in Rome—or, rather, when in Palm Beach!
At Renato’s, there is no pressure and no pretense. From the moment you sit down, time slows and you are happily lost in the warm island air and effortlessly elegant ambience. Renato’s is one of the few places left where hours fly by like minutes, and everyone there is always pleased to welcome you back.