A deli debacle has given way to a pizza and pasta revival in Boca Raton.
Veteran restaurateur Burt Rapoport says he is bringing back Prezzo, his popular Italian restaurant from the 1990s, to the site where two New York-style delicatessens flopped this year.
Rappy’s, a modern twist on the classic Jewish deli named in tribute to Rapoport’s father, shuttered in May after six months in the new Park Place shopping center. A replacement with lower prices, Park Place Deli, closed in July.
“I’m fired up,” Rapoport says. “I thought long and hard about what to do next [at the location], and people kept telling me they miss Prezzo. Surprisingly, there are very few Italian restaurants west of I-95.”
Rapoport says he will team up with original Prezzo partner and longtime associate Dennis Max on the project. They hope to open by late November. Rapoport says they will remodel and refurnish the dining room, bar and patio at the former Rappy’s site, located at 5560 N. Military Trail. Rappy’s cost $1.8 million to build, Rapoport told me when it opened in December 2016.
The original Prezzo opened in Boca Raton in 1989, on Glades Road near Florida’s Turnpike, with a passionate young chef named Angelo Elia. Elia has gone on to become one of South Florida’s top chefs, with his own restaurant empire.
Prezzo expanded to locations in Aventura and Kendall. Rapoport and Max sold the restaurants in 1999 to a group with franchising plans that did not pan out. The restaurants eventually closed.
When the original Prezzo opened, it was one of the first South Florida restaurants to install a wood-burning oven, which it used for pizzas and a popular apple-tart dessert.
Rapoport says those items will return at the new Prezzo. The restaurant will also feature healthier items and modern touches such as oven-roasted vegetables and gluten-free pizzas and pastas. He says the restaurant will focus on “simple preparation and quality ingredients,” the staples of Italian cuisine. Key kitchen personnel will be hired and announced soon, he says.