Ara is a Mediterranean Dream

The new Jupiter hot spot serves Mediterranean-inspired fare in an elegant space

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Ara serves Mediterranean-inspired fare in an elegant space. Photo by Michael Pisarri
Ara serves Mediterranean-inspired fare in an elegant space. Photo by Michael Pisarri

Steven Fondu spent his childhood in New York, where his father owned restaurants. Working with his dad in kitchens as a youth, he grew to love the industry, and as soon as he was old enough, he began taking on jobs as a bartender.

Like so many others, Fondu decided to move to Florida during the pandemic. “I knew it was the right time to leave the city,” he says. “My parents bought a place here several years ago, and my grandmother has been a local in the West Palm area for the last 35 years.” 

Ara's elegant space. Photo by Michael Pisarri
Ara’s elegant space. Photo by Michael Pisarri

He settled in Jupiter, thriving at Pushkar Marathe’s then-new hit restaurant Stage, where he worked as head bartender and assistant general manager. After a couple of years, however, he felt it was time to branch out on his own—and he found that opportunity when someone purchased the building that used to house Crosby Kitchen & Bar and suggested Fondu open a new restaurant at the site. “Frank Seminara has helped make my dream come true,” says Fondu, referring to the former Major League Baseball player who bought the building in August. The two had met at Stage and became fast friends. Fondu even named the restaurant after Seminara as a nod of appreciation. “Ara is the last three letters of his name,” notes Fondu.  

The kitchen is led by Executive Chef Kayla Casale. Photo by Michael Pisarri
The kitchen is led by Executive Chef Kayla Casale. Photo by Michael Pisarri

To lead the kitchen, Fondu tapped into the culinary genius of Kayla Casale, now Ara’s executive chef. Casale hails from renowned restaurants like The French Laundry in Napa Valley and Wolfgang Puck and Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas. The cleverly crafted menu at Ara is inspired by the southern Mediterranean and includes a Spanish carabineros prawn linguine and a “not so classic” beef carpaccio, which features a thinly sliced fillet of beef draped over a salad of watercress and arugula on a bed of goat cheese. “We encourage each guest to embrace their own personal eating style,” says Casale. “Let’s take a journey together around the Mediterranean Sea!”

Enjoy a cocktail and live music late-night. Photo by Michael Pisarri
Enjoy a cocktail and live music late-night. Photo by Michael Pisarri

The dining experience at Ara is elevated by the ambience—a relaxing aesthetic of deluxe gold and pewter accents combined with fresh, sophisticated elements of nature created by Anna Woodman Interior Design. “Designing a space that combines elements of both elegant royalty and the natural world has been an exciting challenge,”
says Woodman.

At press time, Ara was planned for a mid-March opening. Adds Fondu: “We plan on staying open late so people can enjoy that last cocktail or dessert while listening to the sounds of a saxophone. Ara is a place where everyone is welcome. I want everyone to feel special and really enjoy each mouthful and moment spent here.” 1406 S. Cypress Drive, Jupiter

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