| Special to The Post
WEST PALM BEACH — It’s a potentially perilous time to open a restaurant with the coronavirus pandemic still surging. But the owner of other well-known eateries in Palm Beach County – Louie Bossi’s, City Cellar and Rocco’s Tacos to name a few – is doing just that in downtown West Palm Beach.
And it’s not a modest café or diner, but a 10,000 square-foot waterfront restaurant that will seat 300.
Big Time Restaurant Group Corp. plans to open Elisabetta’s Ristorante, Bar and Pizzeria the first week in January on the site of the former Helen Wilkes Hotel and old City Hall, 185 Banyan St. This will be the second Elisabetta’s. The first opened in July 2019 on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach.
The timing of the new restaurant’s opening was unavoidable.
“This was conceived before there was a pandemic,” said Todd Herbst, the company’s chief executive officer. The time-consuming venture began three years ago and is nearing fruition after going through the design process, permitting and zoning, as well as construction itself, he said.
The restaurant plans to have sanitizing equipment and to operate beyond what the CDC recommends. “We’re being safe,” Herbst said.
Elisabetta’s is regarded as a sister establishment to Louie Bossi’s, which has locations in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale. “They’re very similar concepts,” Herbst said.
The menu will include dry-aged steaks, seafood, chicken and pasta dishes. “Everything single thing is made from scratch,” Herbst said. That includes 14 different pastas, breads, sauces and desserts, such as gelatos.
Elisabetta’s executive chef will be Andris Salmanis, who served in the same position at the Delray Beach location. General manager Drew Shane also will be moving from the Delray Beach restaurant to the new West Palm Beach location.
Like the Louie Bossi’s in Fort Lauderdale, Elisabetta’s in West Palm Beach will have a regulation-sized bocce ball court on its patio. “It’s used all the time” in Fort Lauderdale, Herbst said.
That patio may save the bacon for the new Elisabetta’s in such a challenging environment. It’s huge, so it will provide plenty of open-air dining and drinking. “That’s going to be a win for us, the big outdoor space,” Herbst said. Not to be overlooked: the multi-tiered patio overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway. It will feature an indoor/outdoor pewter-topped bar, a pizza oven, two gazebos and a 25-foot tall fireplace where Herbst envisions toasting marshmallows for smores “and all that fun stuff when there are chilly nights.”
Inside, the dining room has rustic basket weave brick walls and a beamed wood ceiling. Herbst is proud of the two gold-tiled pizza ovens imported from Naples, Italy. There also will be a 12-seat private dining room.
Elisabetta’s will serve dinner seven nights a week, and lunch Monday-Friday. There will be a brunch on Saturdays and Sunday serving unlimited mimosas, Aperol Spritzes, Bloody Mary’s and Froze.
There will be valet parking, but three parking garages also are a short walk away.
“We’re putting our best foot forward,” Herbst said.