*Three Year Update*
It has been three years since Limoncello moved into their new space, and a lot has happened!
- The restaurant’s overwhelming success led us to build another dining room two years ago. Available for private functions, the room features a 1300-bottle wine cave, romantic lighting, cheerful artwork and a humongous screen for presentations or televised events.
- We learned the lesson of acoustics in a dining room with windows galore, and installed endless baffles to absorb sound. Most of them blend in like big chameleons, but trust me when I tell you, they’re everywhere.
- The owners opened yet another restaurant in the Limoncello’s original location, just one block north.
- The family patriarch, Mario, originally from Bologna and one of the world’s best storytellers, sadly passed away just after returning home from his yearly trip to Italy. Over the course of four projects with this family, I really came to love Mario, and I know how proud he was of his sons’ success in building their businesses. Mario’s picture continues to hang throughout the restaurant, and a few lions (his favorite) watch over the restaurant, just as he did up until his very last day.
- Coming very soon, a custom corner banquette with seating for 6, underneath our collection of Murano glass pendants! I suspect it will quickly become “the table.”
Limoncello Ristorante, a North Palm Beach restaurant run by a Bolognese man and his two sons, outgrew their 150 seat restaurant and made plans to relocate one block south. Their restaurant, famous for the kind of food and hospitality that perhaps only Italians can deliver, had a challenge on their hands. During what can only be described as the most delicious discovery phase of my career, I spent several nights dining at their bar, striking up conversation with its fiercely devoted clientele, digging into their many fears about our relocation plans. Many were concerned that Limoncello would lose its intimacy, that it would feel like any other chain Italian restaurant, or that they would no longer feel at home in a new space. At the same time, the restaurant’s owners were intent on achieving a more modern aesthetic. Thus began a project in which I entirely wore out the word “balance.”
Achieving that balance was a methodical, intense exercise. Modern hand-blown Italian light fixtures are peppered throughout what is otherwise a traditionally detailed space, with its large crown molding, rich wood-look floors and warm color scheme. The wall separating a dine-in bar from the traditional dining room is pierced with contemporary trimless windows, but artwork featured between them is traditional and familiar. Everywhere your eye rests, traditional is balanced against modern.
One of the most wonderful things about working on this space was the immense potential for storytelling. The family has a rich history, with several successful restaurants under their belts, an extraordinary list of devoted patrons, in addition to their roots in Northern Italy. The original owner, Mario, now in his eighties, holds court every evening in the center of the dining room, at an antipasta station and prosciutto slicer. As the night wears on, Mario eventually abandons his station to enjoy a glass of wine with the clientele, regaling them with stories and boisterous opinion on any manner of things, but not infrequently resting on the topics of golf and food.
The dining room also features Mario’s grandmothers’ copper pots, hand painted ceramic dishes he and his wife Alice immigrated with, photos and sketches of the Bolognese towers, and framed menus from his famed Long Island restaurants, Capriccio and Papagallo. All our decor choices help tell the family’s story, whether or not the master storyteller is there to personally weave the tale for you.
Limoncello’s relocation was an absolute joy to design, and today I enjoy nothing more than sitting at their bar with a bowl of tagliatelle bolognese, a limoncello martini, and my book. Truly, not a bad gig!