(CNS Foodie): It’s my first time eating at Ristorante Prima at The Royal Palms Beach Club and I’m not quite sure what to think of it. Some aspects were great — oceanfront dining, friendly staff that, for most of our meal, were attentive — and the mediocre points can easily be adjusted. Keywords there — more seasoning!
We had the opportunity to walk the beach to get there since friends were visiting and staying at a condo nearby, so we dressed casual and took a seat outside, in front of the bar area at one of the high tables. It was a relaxing atmosphere and we had a few kids with us, so it was convenient for them to play on the beach while we waited for the food.
A few of the cocktails looked enticing; one in particular with cucumber, ginger and rum caught our eye (Cucumber Cooler – $9), but not being a fan of rum I asked if we could substitute vodka. The server tried to sway us back to the original ingredients, saying it might change the taste of the drink (fair enough, good effort on her part to keep the integrity of the cocktail) but we were confident it would taste fine with vodka, so we took our chances. The result was an incredible, crisp cocktail with a little zing from the ginger, exactly what we thought it would be. I imagine, if you’re a fan of rum, you would like this one too, although personally rum cocktails are just too sweet for my liking.
We tried their conch fritters and they were light, almost fluffy in texture with perfect flavor, compared to others that are overly fried and too dense. My partner seems to be an expert taster of conch fritters and claims Prima has the best. The scallop and pork belly appetizer was a disappointment, the scallops were tiny and the pork belly overdone. There were two salads that sounded different so we tried both the Misticanza and the Carnival, both $12 and mixed greens based.
The Misticanza had beetroot, orange segments, spiced pecans with an aged balsamic vinaigrette. The Carnival was served with mozzarella di bufala, pinenuts, caperberries, candied cherry tomatoes with a cherry tomato vinaigrette. The portions were generous and we couldn’t wait to try, but after a few bites we were looking for salt and pepper, which is surprising because both salads were properly dressed, but something was lacking … that something, was salt.
Next up, the locally caught Pan-Seared Tuna, white and black sesame crust, kempira carrot sticks, crispy noodles, sesame balsamic soy vinaigrette. The presentation was fabulous, served on a narrow, rectangular slate platter, the tuna stacked nicely across a bed of veggies and it was seared to perfection ($31). Once again, I had that feeling that something was missing and I asked the server for a side of the balsamic soy vinaigrette that had a thicker consistency, more like a glaze. That didn’t help; all it needed was more seasoning.
Our server was very accommodating for the kids, since they don’t have a “kids menu” but do offer smaller pizzas and portions of pasta. Our kids opted for the standard cheese pizzas, which were the perfect size for them, perfect ratio of sauce to cheese, crispy but still soft inside crust and the price was right as well ($8).
Prima has an impressive wine list and the prices range between $7-14 by the glass and the opportunity to try higher end wines by the glass as well for a price point between $16-26 per glass. It’s always appreciated when there’s a wide variety of wines and prices to choose from, and Prima can capture locals or tourists wanting a nice bottle to watch the sunset!
At this point, we’d socialised enough and eaten more than we anticipated and it was time for the cheque. We waited … and waited … and waited. Our server, who was so attentive at the start, had suddenly become busy running around from one side to the next, while other servers stood around with their hands behind their backs, staring off into the horizon. One of the kids actually fell asleep at the table before the cheque was brought back to us.
A minor setback. Aside from the fact that most of the dishes we tried lacked simple seasoning, we see Prima has potential and our kids didn’t fall asleep because our server was slacking, she was busy and didn’t have any assistance from her colleagues. Don’t be afraid to use salt, and don’t be afraid to approach a table that’s not “yours”.
I think the next time we visit Prima, we will have to try the tuna again to see if the chef put the extra pinch of salt, and order some of the high-end wines and watch the sunset. Can’t go wrong with that!
Gratuity: 15% added to the bill.