It's been almost three years since 32 East bid farewell to longtime executive chef/partner Nick Morfogen, a move that heralded the end of an era for one of the community's most lauded establishments.
The restaurant was considered a foodie destination since owner Butch Johnson opened the doors in 1999 with executive chef Wayne Alcaide, who put 32 East on the culinary map before Morfogen took over for the next 17 years. The relationship lasted through 2016, when Morfogen left to become executive chef at Pine Tree Golf Club in Boynton Beach.
In June 2018, the restaurant closed and Big Time Restaurant Group (BTRG) swooped in to claim the space for a third Louie Bossi Ristorante, the group's large-scale Italian eatery with locations in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton.
But rather than open a new Louie Bossi location, BTRG culinary director Lisabet Summa and chef/partner Louie Bossi have announced they will instead welcome Elisabetta’s Ristorante, Bar & Pizzeria to Delray Beach as the group’s latest concept. The restaurant is slated to open in July and will serve lunch and dinner daily, as well as brunch Saturday and Sunday.
"We love the space — it's such a jewel," Summa says. "We're following in big footsteps and feel lucky to be able to bring something new to such a wonderful spot."
Renderings for the 200-seat, two-story restaurant show it will offer two bars — one on each floor — as well as a second-floor patio and balcony overlooking Atlantic Avenue and Old School Square. The 7,800-square-foot interior will be home to a gelato bar and a beehive-shaped turquoise-hued Neapolitan pizza oven, as well as an 18-seat private dining room.
An ode to Summa's Italian heritage and name, Elisabetta's has been designed as a sister restaurant to Louie Bossi. The idea to change the name is part of the group's move to create a family of Italian restaurants that will each have a unique identity with every new location, Summa says.
Like all Big Time establishments, Elisabetta's will operate as a scratch kitchen. "The scratch kitchen is one thing our concepts share," Summa says. "Even though these are classical dishes, they still require you to make them fresh and by hand, while also putting our own creative influence into the dish."
Executive chef Kevin Darr will helm the kitchen at Elisabetta's. Darr is a Big Time Restaurant veteran who has served as executive chef at Louie Bossi's flagship in Fort Lauderdale and for the group's City Cellar in West Palm Beach.
Dishes will be produce-driven, and the menu will include many of Louie Bossi's classic dishes as well as an expanded selection of seafood, salads, and a number of new pasta dishes presenting a modern-Italian, vegetable-forward approach.
Among the more than 15 new menu items, one of Summa's favorites is a pasta dish prepared with her version of puttanesca sauce, made with olives, capers, and Sicilian anchovies and served over a house-made green-herb
Other new menu items include a seasonal vegetable salad with walnut-oil vinaigrette and vegetable
Elisabetta’s will also make all of its own bread and desserts including almond, gelato, hazelnut, and orange cornmeal cakes while the beverage program will reflect the same creative focus on Italian wines and liquors as Louie Bossi thanks to beverage director Ervin Machado's extensive experience.
New cocktails will include the Hibiscus Spritz with hibiscus syrup, Galliano Aperitivo and prosecco; Il Pepe with Nolet's gin, simple syrup, lemon/lime juice, and Fresno-infused agave nectar; and the Hibiscus Spiced Margarita with Fresno-infused agave nectar, hibiscus syrup, Espolon tequila, and lemon/lime juice.
Elisabetta’s Ristorante Bar & Pizzeria. 32 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; elisabettas.com.