Lynora’s Osteria is relatively new to downtown West Palm Beach’s Clematis Street dining district. But don’t tell the locals.
The Italian eatery, which manages to achieve a cozy feel within a considerably spacious locale, already feels like a go-to, neighborhood spot. And there’s a good reason for this: The place welcomes you warmly and feeds you splendidly.
You’ll find no rambling menu or fussy dishes here. But you will find freshly prepared classics that include house-made pasta dishes and wood-fired pizza.
If this approachable eatery feels like an old soul, that’s because it is. Owners Angelo Abbenante and Sascha Bennemann found their inspiration in the now-closed Lynora’s of Lake Worth Road, the red-sauce restaurant once owned by Abbenante’s Italian immigrant parents, Ralph and Maria. (Lynora’s is named after Maria’s mother.)
The new osteria, which opened at the end of September, pays homage to the old Lynora’s in the form of classic, favorite dishes. If any of these dishes is a measure of the younger restaurateurs’ respect for Maria Abbenante and her recipes, the respect is great.
The Fettuccine Bolognese ($18) is simple yet divine, a tangle of wide, homemade noodles bathed in slow-cooked beef gravy. The sauce is abundant and hearty, but not overly rich.
Also abundant and delicious: the Pollo Alla Lynora ($22), one of the three dishes listed in the “Lynora’s Classics” section. A large, thick cutlet of chicken breast is lightly floured and sautéed, then topped with ham, fresh spinach and oozy mozzarella and ladled with a reduced chicken consommé sauce. This is a dish that could have gone wrong 20 different ways – the breast meat could have been dry, the spinach watery, the cheese overpowering – but the cutlet was moist, the toppings judicious and the sauce perfect for dipping wedges of Lynora’s crusty bread.
We paired that dish with a less successful, a la carte order of roasted asparagus ($7) topped with a thin Parmesan layer. The asparagus, on the toothsome side, gained little by the easily removed layer of Parm.
We sampled these dishes on a recent night that had started with two quite tasty meat appetizers. From the list of nightly specials, we chose a salad of tangy arugula lightly dressed in olive oil and lemon and abundantly draped with thin shavings of bresaola (air-dried beef, $12) and Parmesan. This starter proved more than enough for two.
Even more delicious was the Polpette Della Casa ($10), Lynora’s meatballs. These are beef and pork meatballs served in a spot-on marinara sauce with a dollop of homemade ricotta.
Good food aside, Lynora’s makes it easy to enjoy your meal. The dining room is framed in tufted brown-leather banquettes. Wood tables and creamy brick walls glow in almost sepia tones in the light of simple and round glass pendants.
Within this setting, the staff and owners seem to pay close attention to service details. My only quibble with our otherwise efficient server is that he pitched the two most expensive wines to us when I asked him about the least expensive one. Upselling servers are one of my peeves. I ordered the cheapest option, a light-bodied Chianti.
I also ordered dessert, which was a terrific decision. Then again, this dessert involves two of the greatest food groups: Nutella Pizza. The dessert pizza ($9), which can be shared easily by 4 to 6, is composed of a warm, toasty crust that’s slathered with Nutella, dotted with blueberries and raspberries and dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
I predict it will become a new favorite in a place with a wonderful old soul.
ADDRESS: 207 Clematis St., West Palm Beach
PRICE RANGE: Moderate
HOURS: Open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner from 3 to 10 p.m. Open Saturday and Sunday from for brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner from 3 to 11 p.m.
HAPPY HOUR: Daily from 3 to 7 p.m.; bar opens from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. weekdays, to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
CREDIT CARDS: Major credit cards
RESERVATIONS: Walk-ins welcome
FULL BAR: Yes, with separate bar area
NOISE LEVEL: Lively but not overwhelming
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes, including restrooms
WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:
A — Excellent
B — Good
C — Average
D — Poor
F — Don’t bother