The legendary restaurant opens its most stylish location in Palm Beach, Florida. The New Sant Ambroeus, Mix of Golden Era with Italian Mid-century Design.
When Sant Ambroeus opened its first U.S. location in New York in 1986, it was predetermined to become a meeting place for the city’s cultural cognoscenti.
Its mother restaurant became an instant classic among those in the know when it launched in Milan in 1936. Now, just in time for Northeasterners’ seasonal migration south, a new Palm Beach outpost is primed to keep the ball rolling. Robert McKinley, who has designed Manhattan outposts for the brand, as well as hot spots like El Tucán nightclub and Marion brasserie in Miami, sipped his weight in coffee while touring cafés across Italy for inspiration. “Palm Beach’s golden era coincided with Milan’s refined design in the ‘50s,” he says of the suitable link between the restaurant’s original city and its latest setting, Royal Poinciana Plaza, architect John Volk’s shopping center from the same era that was recently refurbished. “It’s just like in Italy when you pop into a café for an espresso and take a breath from your day.”
A gelato cart along Royal Poinciana Plaza’s rich landscaped courtyard features beehive-shaped pozzetti. The gold-leaf signage was hand-painted. “It isn’t easy to find people who can still do it,” said McKinley.
Since Sant Ambroeus lies a few blocks from the beach, Murano-glass light fixtures mimic waves and marine life; the mahogany walls and bar are by New York Handmade. “We had the space to go full throttle with custom lighting,” says McKinley of the restaurant’s 3,400 square feet.
“When I bring people a tin of cookies from Sant Ambroeus, they love the wrapping paper,” says McKinley. So he converted it into custom wallpaper by Flavor Paper in Brooklyn. “It’s playful and sweet—perfect for a confectionery.”
Green jasper columns dominate the 150-seat dining room. Banquettes in coral fabric sourced from Dedar are another tropical touch. Terrazzo floors in a cream, pink, and black wave pattern pick up the sea theme. “I love the terrazzo floors in Italian cafés for their handmade feel. We were lucky to find expert workers in South Florida who could pour the floors without metal dividers.”
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