The former couple are "testing the waters," a pal tells PEOPLE

By Alexis Chiu
Updated August 01, 2008 08:00 AM
Mark Sullivan/WireImage

They broke up earlier this year, but Paula Abdul and her restaurateur ex-boyfriend JT Torregiani have been quietly reconnecting, a source close to them tells PEOPLE.

“They’re taking it slow, testing the waters,” says the pal of the pair, who were spotted catching a movie together in Sherman Oaks, Calif., last weekend. “They’ve gone on a few friendly dates.”

The American Idol judge and the owner of several Hollywood hotspots dated for more than a year before splitting in May. A rep for Torregiani blamed their hectic work schedules for the breakup.

But now that Torregiani has opened his latest venture, Beso – whose co-owners include Eva Longoria Parker – he has more free time and “wants to date her again,” says the pal. “JT thinks she’s a sweetheart. They have good chemistry.”

A rep for Abdul, 46, was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this year, Torregiani, 33, was in talks to possibly become ABC’s next Bachelor. But he has decided to drop it, in part because he doesn’t want to leave for three months to film the show. “And maybe,” adds the source, “he doesn’t need to look for love on TV when he’s got Paula in his life.”

While Abdul is busy prepping for Idol‘s eighth season, Torregiani is still working long hours at Beso. The Latin-themed restaurant and bar has celeb fans including Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony (who lingered over a late-night, three-hour dinner after his concert last week), and Justin Timberlake, who shared a quiet date night recently with his squeeze Jessica Biel.