Dining scene: Boca cafe tries on a bistro hat

What's happening in food and dining around South Florida.

Saquella Caffé

410 Via De Palmas, Boca Raton, 561-338-8840, SaquellaCafe.com

This seven-year-old kaleidoscopic beauty of Royal Palm Place with its tantalizing pastry case and Mediterranean-style fare has completed its transition from cafe to bistro with the launch of a formalized dinner service.


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"It just grew. People loved what we did and wanted more," says co-owner Abraham Sekerel, who was raised in Israel and classically trained in hospitality in Europe. "We made the success of this restaurant on one simple thing: value for money."

The dramatically expanded kitchen has extended the selections from fish, such as grilled swordfish medallions with artichoke cream sauce, spinach and garlic potato waffle ($19), to meats, such as the lean buffalo burger with sunny-side-up egg, brie and garlic aioli ($14). The biggest transformation is the new list of 13 tapas, such as braised short rib with carrot and bamboo-shoot sweet sake glaze and potato waffle ($11). Roasted cauliflower is unexpected with the zesty zing from the lavender-mustard vinaigrette, followed by boldness from the grill ($4).

A line of apres-dinner desserts, such as brule'd bourbon banana bread pudding with vanilla-bean anglaise served in a coffee mug ($8), also is debuting, along with a three-course prix-fixe option for $28.

Devoted regulars — 80 percent of the customers — may be surprised when the bistro rolls out white linen napkins, red placemats, centerpieces, candles, dimmed lights and chandeliers on the patio to set a softer mood for dinner.

Prosecco cocktails blended with gelato ($7) and craft beers have been added, the wine list has been expanded and hard-liquor drinks are to come.

On the horizon: Saquella's name will change to Prosecco Café, the two-year-old Palm Beach Gardens sibling that inspired Sekerel to formalize the dinner menu here.

Papa's Tapas

259 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach, 561-266-0599, PapasTapasDelray.com

Co-owners Cristobal and Susie Parra have moved their four-year-old Spanish/Caribbean eatery, formerly called Papa's Café, a few blocks away to Esplanade Plaza, where the sidewalk tables with red chairs hint at the bold interior decor.

Inside, zebra-striped chairs with white banquette seating are juxtaposed against a blue-gray wall on the left and a red wall on the right, where the bar is situated.

The move more than doubled their space to 85 seats, says Annie Kolensky, one of three siblings who also own and run the restaurant.

"We kept turning down some of our locals ... there was no room. It's a good problem to have," she says.

Kolensky's mother is from the Dominican Republic, and her father is from Spain, evidenced in his specialty paellas, such as the Valencia ($20 per person), the marinera ($25 per person) and the arroz con pollo ($14 per person). Each one requires a two-person minimum and takes 45 minutes to an hour to make. Her mother makes the desserts, such as tres leches ($5), and the sides, such as saffron rice, black beans and sweet plantains.

"This where her Caribbean spices kick in," Kolensky said.

In addition to seafood, chicken, pork and beef entrees, 25 hot and cold tapas headline the menu — the source of their namesake. Another signature is their red or white sangria ($7, glass; $19, half carafe; $24, carafe).

Lunch and dinner are served daily, except Sundays, with plans for Spanish guitar as entertainment.