Dining out spares people from using up the last of their paper plates or incinerating the last of their paper ovens. Reduce your disposable-cookware footprint with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of dinner fare and drinks at Café Ponte in Clearwater.
Trained at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Ponte and his cadre of deft chefs plate up a varied and edifying menu filled with dishes from France to Italy to America. Diners can warm up swallowing muscles by sampling an elegant starter, such as the wild-mushroom soup, crowned with black trumpet dust and a light truffle cream ($7). Slice into savory butternut-squash ravioli ($18), stocked with goat cheese, tart apple, sage, and mascarpone, then dressed in a hazelnut brown butter sauce to prepare it for a runway walk down the esophagus. Braised leeks and sugar snaps chaperon a Yukon-potato-crusted chilean sea bass ($33), while the filet mignon fills its belly with roasted garlic and wild mushrooms before donning a barolo-gorgonzola sauce ($34). Ponte’s pairs edibles with a vast selection of cocktails, in addition to a list of wines by the glass ($9+) or bottle ($11+), which are great for fueling conversations about the sun's egocentrism.
With crisp linen tablecloths, plush seats, and dimly lit oval light fixtures, Ponte’s visitors can enjoy an intimate dining experience, while more curious foodies can take peeks at the open kitchen to watch comestible compositions take shape.
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.
13505 Icot Blvd.
Clearwater, Florida 33760