Best New Restaurant in Palm Beach - 2008
Forte di Asprinio - CLOSED
Stephen Asprinio's Forté is a work of art. It's as though the 26-year-old proprietor, a contender on the first season of Top Chef, had designed his décor and menu to generate argument — and indeed, since it opened this spring, many have loved it and many have hated it. Even we who love it find our feelings shifting from week to week — pleasure, irritation, shock, despair, ecstasy — but the place never bores. There's a balance of tensions and what sometimes feels like deliberate anarchy, the occasional stroke of genius, and the inevitable flamboyant failure. But unlike restaurants that chart a safe course, Forté never shrinks from risk. The menu changes whimsically and sometimes frustratingly — you'll never meet the same amuse bouche; your favorite cocktail has been discontinued (the basil martini, although it was replaced with something even more delicious and elegant); the specific pairing of fruit compote with cheese (or mostarda with salumi) you raved over one night is ancient history. The menu has Italian genes, but in execution it's almost unbearably personal and not a little surreal, as if the butter poached lobster, the miniature pork chops with wild mushrooms and blackberry sauce, or those codfish "lollipops" had taken shape from a fevered dream.
"Behind every successful restaurant owner is a brilliant Chef"!This is the sentiment that immediately comes to mind when one visits Forte di Asprinio in West Palm Beach. Surprise! The "new kid on the block" really is a "kid"! I spent last Saturday evening at this very interesting new eatery and the only negative thing I can say about it is that its namesake is a pompous ass, who I swear is Pee Wee Herman's blonde twin. Have you ever met someone you had an unnerving urge to beat the crap out of five seconds after he uttered his first word? Then you understand.Okay, beyond "Little Stevie", that place is phenomenal. The food is fantastic, the presentation extraordinary and the flow of the room creates a dining experience I've not felt in quite some time.It was my friend's Birthday so when I saw the Chef walk out of the kitchen I asked our waiter if he could come over to say hello.First, the GM, Joshua Liberman, came by to wish my friend a Happy Birthday, (nice touch), followed immediately by Executive Chef, Mark Liberman, who was surprisingly down to earth, gracious and interactive. We've all heard stories about "tempermental Executive Chefs"! Not Chef Liberman.Great guy, amazing, amazing Chef!! Here's the greatest surprise. Notice the GM and Chef have the same last name?They're brothers! So you have an incredibly gifted Chef in the kitchen and his brother/partner on the floor making sure things keep that steady "flow" we all want in a fine dining experience.Wow! And we need "Pee Wee Asprinio" for........uh.......what??Our hats are off to these two brothers who we guarantee you will launch their own restaurant someday!! Kudos to whoever hired the combined and respective amazingly talented Liberman brothers!