Q&A With a Chef: Frank Eucalitto of Café Chardonnay

August 10, 2021

To celebrate the first-ever Palm Beaches Restaurant Week, taking place Aug. 16-31, we’re asking some of the region’s top chefs about their inspirations, the local culinary scene and more.

Located along the PGA Corridor in the bustling Gardens Square shopping center in Palm Beach Gardens, you’ll find an end unit storefront fashioned with greenery that creates an unlikely oasis just off the parking lot. Here begins your visit to Café Chardonnay. This mainstay white linen restaurant has stood the test of time for more than 30 years under the direction of Frank Eucalitto and his wife, Gigi. The pair have owned seven eateries during their time in The Palm Beaches dining scene with this timeless location holding memories of birthdays, graduations, engagements, Mother’s Day meals and romantic date nights for many.

Herb & Dijon crusted rack of lamb
Herb & Dijon-crusted rack of lamb; photo by Cristyle Egitto

Café Chardonnay offers an upscale American dining experience with longtime entrée favorites like macadamia-crusted yellowtail snapper, herb and Dijon-crusted rack of lamb, Maine lobster and sea scallops, and pan-roasted veal chop. The food is served alongside an extensive wine list, curated over the past three decades with a vast offering of wines by the glass. Diners have recently been treated to a revival of a limited menu from the popular No Anchovies!, another Eucalitto establishment.
 
A longtime resident of the area and active member of the community, Chef Frank is a friendly face to visiting patrons and locals alike. We asked him a few questions about his background, Café Chardonnay and more.

Chef Frank Eucalitto of Cafe Chardonnay
Chef Frank Eucalitto; photo courtesy of Cafe Chardonnay

What made you decide to become a chef?

Since my childhood I have loved to cook alongside my dad. Before it was considered stylish to become a chef, I graduated from Johnson and Wales in Rhode Island with degrees in culinary arts and management to begin my career in cooking. I opened my first restaurant with my wife Gigi, Cobblestone Café in Tequesta, in 1982.

What inspires you in the kitchen?

Nothing makes me happier than to share my passion with family and friends. This passion pushes me to continue to hone my skills. I am constantly seeking out new techniques and recipes to stay on top of trends in the kitchen and always be improving, while never losing sight of the “tried-and-true” features we offer.

Macadamia-crusted yellowtail snapper
Macadamia-crusted yellowtail snapper; photo by Cristyle Egitto

What is your favorite dish on the menu/to prepare?

Well, it's a toss-up between our veal chop — the way the flavors all come together — and our Cioppino. That takes me back to my Italian roots. That great sauce combines with fresh fish and shellfish, and it has a beautiful presentation.

What's one thing you would love for people to know about your restaurant?

That we never served a stranger! We are a fine dining restaurant, and when you arrive, our staff treats you as if you have come to dinner in their home. Our first-time visitors become our long-time visitors, and we are so grateful to have them!

What should people know about the culinary scene in The Palm Beaches?

They need to know how wonderfully diversified our selection of restaurants is AND how talented and qualified the chefs are in the majority of our restaurants.

What are the three things you’d tell a first-time visitor to do while they’re here?

1.  Take a boat cruise up the Intracoastal in Jupiter.
2.  Attend a Spring Training baseball game.
3.  Climb the Jupiter Lighthouse, then visit the Square Grouper for cocktails and a bite to eat.

Boat cruising by the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse
Boat cruising by the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse

Ready to Visit?

Café Chardonnay is open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 5 to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. The restaurant offers to-go and family meal options daily from 4 to 9 p.m., as well as full-service catering, and hosts private events at the restaurant.
 
Reservations are recommended with indoor and outdoor seating options as well as bar seating and the upstairs loft. The ambiance is sophisticated while maintaining a warm, inviting atmosphere that is also family-friendly.

The Palm Beaches Restaurant Week takes place Aug. 16-31, 2021.

Table for two at Cafe Chardonnay
Table for two at Cafe Chardonnay; photo by Cristyle Egitto

 

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Image of woman Cristlye Egitto
Cristyle Egitto
Cristyle Egitto is a South Florida native, born in Miami, raised in Palm Beach and educated at the University of Florida. She founded the food blog EatPalmBeach in 2013 as a way to discover restaurants and culinary talents in the area while supporting local businesses. Her writing has appeared in various publications, and she has been featured on local TV and in multiple magazines.