The monopoly tycoons of the nineteenth century traditionally did their wheeling and dealing at fine-dining establishments, cleverly concealing the fact that they still lived with their parents. Keep classily camouflaged with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of dinner fare and drinks at Cafe Ponte.
Centrally situated in the Rubin Icot Center, Cordon Bleu-trained chef Christopher Ponte's opulent magnum opus gilds parched palates in award-winning continental cuisine. Sample dazzlingly plated entrees such as the filet mignon stuffed with roasted garlic and wild mushrooms in a Barolo gorgonzola sauce ($34), or the butternut squash ravioli plump with goat cheese, sage, poetic words, ginger, and mascarpone ($18). Lonely dishes are eager to be set up with a fleeting companion, such as one of Cafe Ponte's amiable selections of french reds, italian, alsace, and german wines. Diners can also take advantage of the wraparound bar and quaff a specialty cocktail, such as the Raspberry Jack made with Jack Daniels, lemon juice, a splash of Chambord, and muddled raspberries ($8).
Orb chandeliers, white linen table settings, and plush carpets make Cafe Ponte redolent of dining endeavors aboard a swank ocean liner, minus the porpoise wait staff antics. Curious culinary detectives, meanwhile, may perch in view of the open kitchen and watch dishes take shape before their eyes.
- The dining room looks positively spruce, its red, sage and black color scheme crisp and stylish; linens and table appointments are top-notch. Servers are courteous and professional even when slammed. – Laura Reiley, St. Petersburg Times
- This strip mall eatery has a creative and envelope-pushing menu of familiar items such as pizza and pasta but with subtle touches that elevates it beyond the ordinary. – Gayot
After graduating Johnson & Wales University in 1991, chef Christopher Ponte began his career at Pepper Mill Restaurant. The chef had been accommodating special requests for one of Pepper Mill Restaurant's picky patrons for many months. It always took extra work to conjure up off-menu items, but Christopher didn't complain. He loved cooking. One day, the customer asked to meet the chef, and Christopher obligingly came to greet him at the table. As conversation casually flowed, the elderly gentleman asked, "What would the young man like to do in the future?" Without hesitation, Christopher said, "Study in France."
Mere months later, thanks to the patronage of one very happy customer and Long Island retiree, Christopher Ponte enrolled at the Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute, one of France's most iconic schools. He made excellent use of his time there—including apprenticing at Paris's Taillevent. Chef Ponte returned stateside to apprentice with Daniel Boulud at his self-titled restaurant, Daniel.
With this wealth of experience, in 2002, Chef Ponte opened Café Ponte. Awarded a Golden Spoon and a Zagat rating as one of the top area restaurants, his unabashedly adventuresome menu sizzles with European and Asian influences. The 250-seat dining room hosts its guests at intimate tabletops or a zigzag bar, which serves seasonal cocktails and fine wines from an eclectic wine list.