Settling down with the scenesters at Bice
December 26, 2011
PALM BEACH, USA – It’s no secret that securing a property in Palm Beach involves a significant outlay–elegant villas, it seems, don’t come cheap. Fortunately, for those not quite ready to pony up for the painfully large price tag of a Palm Beach palace, there’s another way to snag some of the most desirable real estate in town–we’re talking a spot where your neighbors are movie stars and moguls and you want for nothing–and all at a (comparatively) reasonable price at that. Sound too good to be true? Could be…but only if you’re not tenacious enough to score a prime time dinner reservation on the terrace at Bice.
It may be family-run, but there is nothing humble or homey about Bice. What was started in 1926 in Milan by Beatrice “Bice” Ruggeri as an intimate restaurant showcasing her gourmet take on home cooking has grown into a chichi global chainlet of “casual” eateries in some of the world’s most exclusive destinations (like New York, for example)–and nowhere is the swank factor more on show than in Palm Beach. The elegantly neutral cream-and-coffee dining room is billed as “relaxed,” but only in the Palm Beach sense–the linens are ultra starched, clinking crystal and silver are the main soundtrack, the bar is buzzing, and all diners are on high alert as they scan the room for faces of the rich or famous (or both).
If you want to get the most out of Bice, though, don’t waste your time in the dining room. (It can get really noisy anyway.) Instead, head straight for the back, to the lovely patio facing a picturesque flower-drenched via off of Worth Avenue. For all that it’s breathtakingly lush, though, it’s not the natural scenery we come for–it’s the landscape of power brokers, sexy celebs, and the society scene in-crowd. Tables on the patio come at a premium, naturalmente, and new kids on the block often settle for the less popular side terrace near the bar. But if you want to get some serious schmooze (or ogle) on as you nibble Bice’s specialities like fried calamari and zucchini, pappardelle, veal ossobucco or milanesa, and tiramisu, you’ll have to stake your claim for a spot on that primo terrace.
Here’s how to “get in”: first, you’ll need to make a reservation well in advance, especially if it’s peak season in Palm Beach. (Consider calling before you even arrive in town, or getting a well-connected concierge to help you out.) Then, you’ll need to be dressed for the part. By day you could easily get away with a flirty Lilly Pulitzer look, but if you’re coming after sundown, you’ll need to take it up a notch on the glam scale–go with a sleek and summery cocktail dress accessorized with pricey bling and a designer bag. (It goes without saying that jackets are recommended for gents.) Of course, even the best laid plans can still go awry–even with a reservation, you may still need to wait for your table, especially if it’s a weekend during “The Season” or if a famous so-and-so waltzes in and snags your spot. We’d recommend standing firm though–after all, a woman’s house may be her castle, but, when in Palm Beach, her spot on the terrace at Bice is her palazzo.
Read more about Bice in our Palm Beach Guide
Rebecca Salois contributed to this post