Chef David Lani Is Back!
One of the Gulfshore’s best chefs has found a new home for his winsome cuisine at Catch 41 in Naples.
Chef David Lani developed a cult following during his two years at 7th Avenue Social. He took some time off and has now returned to helm the new Catch 41.
Photo by Missy K Photography
Don’t judge this restaurant by its cover: Tucked away in the Ramada Inn on U.S. 41, the new Catch 41 is home to one of the Gulfshore’s best chefs.
Both the inside and outside of the restaurant were renovated before Catch 41 launched in January. Photo by Missy K Photography
It had a soft opening in January, right after a renovation to brighten the space and give it a sunny, coastal, it’s-5-o’clock-somewhere feel—but the biggest draws are the from-scratch delights flowing out of the kitchen, thanks to the handiwork of executive chef David Lani.
Lani moved to Naples from Las Vegas a few years ago to launch 7th Avenue Social. He and the restaurant quickly rang up accolades, including being at the top of Gulfshore Life’s 2016 Best New Restaurants list. He was there for about two years, took some time off, and was recently tapped to jumpstart Catch 41 by owners Lawrence Merlino and sisters Heather and Samantha Leek.
“We wanted to do something for the locals. We wanted to create a menu that has something for everybody. Everything on our menu is under $15 except two dishes that have lobster,” Lani says. “I’m still sourcing from local boat captains, and everything that comes out of the kitchen—from sauces to dressings to the patties for our sliders—everything is made by hand. All of our desserts are, too, because we have a pastry chef here.”
Creamy burrata cheese is deep fried, smothered with a house-made roasted tomato sauce and served alongside garlic bread in a cast-iron skillet. Photo by Missy K Photography
The menu’s influences are diverse, with Asian, Italian, Southern and Caribbean twists to various dishes, as well as tweaks that are Lani’s own. Take the fried burrata; Once the crunchy exterior is punctuated, an ooey-gooey center oozes out into the surrounding tomato sauce, begging to be sopped up by the accompanying garlic bread. And then there's the jerk chicken atop a multigrain cinnamon waffle with a jalapeño crème anglaise. Lani describes it best: “The heat and the sweet and the textures play off each other—but because it’s lighter than regular fried chicken and waffles, you can eat it and not feel like you’ve been hit by a truck.”
Catch 41 is also featuring live music Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There will be a grand opening ribbon cutting and reception Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 5 p.m.
“We kind of just say we’re open from 11 a.m. till close. Close means if there are still people around, we’ll be rocking and rolling—usually that means on weekends we’re open till 1 or 2 a.m. We have the ability to stay open till 2 a.m. seven nights a week,” Lani says. “We want it to be a local hangout. We figure once people come in and taste the food and get the vibe, they’ll know it’s a great place to be.”
Fresh raw bar specials, like a ceviche duo with charred lime and chips, change daily depending on what the local fishing boat captains bring in.
Catch 41 Bar and Grill
1100 Tamiami Trail N., Naples
Get the Hot Dish every Wednesday and Friday online and every month in Gulfshore Life.