October 23, 2014

10 Best

1. Le Riviera is owned by a French couple and its kitchen run by a French chef, but its menu embraces other cuisines of the Mediterranean-"Cuisine of the Sun," they call it. Ivory-linen elegant with a touch of country-inn charm, Le Riviera has brought new life to the former longtime home of Le Caffe des Artistes. Don't wait for a special occasion to celebrate-dining at Le Riviera will be its own reward. 210 Tamiami Trail N., Naples; (239) 261-7598.

2. Got an itch for oysters? Take your pick from Prince Edward Island, Long Island and Rhode Island. Trolling for fish? Try perch, walleye, haddock, tuna, grouper, lemon sole, swordfish and more. They're all part of chef Brent Courson's menu at Real Seafood Co., which casts a wide net for the freshest seafood from Boston, the Pacific Coast, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. 8960 Fontana Del Sol Way, No. 103, Naples; (239) 591-3523.

3. Premium steakhouses are no novelty in Southwest Florida, but Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar puts its own brand on the phenomenon. In addition to serving USDA prime corn-fed beef, aged and cut daily, the California-based chain sets itself apart with The Fleming's 100-an oenophile's delight featuring 100 domestic and imported wines by the glass, 40 percent from boutique vintners in California, Oregon and Washington. 8985 Tamiami Trail N., Naples; (239) 598-2424.

4. Sushi lovers will find nirvana and those who prefer their seafood cooked won't be disappointed at Zen, the latest see-and-be-seen spot on Naples' Fifth Avenue South. Clubby but unstuffy, Zen creates a range of traditional and signature rolls, including a theatrical "cigar" roll served in a crystal "ash tray" containing a pool of chili sauce. It's nourishing dining as entertainment. 898 Fifth Ave. S., Naples; (239) 403-4936.

5. Cheers to Cin Cin, which brings long-overdue Mediterranean flavors to the Fort Myers restaurant scene. Chef Scott Sopher blends Italian, Spanish, French and North African dishes with a dash of personal flair for an exciting dining experience. With a moderately priced wine list that allows exploration and a plushly comfortable bar and dining room, Cin Cin encourages repeat visits. 13451-5 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers; (239) 415-2007.

6. Art permeates Captiva Island's little Red Fish Blu Fish, from decorations created from Hurricane Charley debris to the painterly presentation of chef Jennifer Gussack's light, healthful food. Small portions allow patrons to sample a range of flavors, from beautifully bronzed striped bass to a beef tournedo with shallot confit. The intimately scaled dining room indulges in the sort of whimsy Dr. Seuss would've loved. 14970 Captiva Drive, Captiva Island; (239) 472-1956.

7. Sushi, splashy martinis and sleek style meet in Blu heaven on Naples' posh Third Street South. Started in Fort Myers before expanding south, Blu showcases the talents of Gen-X brothers Billy and Kevin Mack amid cobalt walls, blond woods and cool stainless steel. No wonder it lures a young, sexy crowd. Plaza on Third, 1170 Third St. S., Naples; (239) 403-9901. 13451 McGregor Blvd., Unit 23, Fort Myers; (239) 489-1500.

8. A prize catch for Southwest Florida, Bonefish Grill offers ultra-fresh fish flown in and cut daily. Pick from eight varieties, including rainbow trout, Pacific butterfish and Gulf grouper, and pair with signature toppings like lime-tomato-garlic or bacon-Gorgonzola. The polished but casual atmosphere of this chain appeals to urban sophisticates as well as families. One visit and you'll be hooked. 26381 S. Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs; (239) 390-9208. 14261 S. Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers; (239) 489-1240.

9. "Lush wines and pure food" is the mission of Shannon Yates and crew at Fort Myers' Crü. With its red, black and stainless steel interior, Crü creates an upscale urban atmosphere softened by the warm staff and earthy cuisine. Simply but expertly prepared meats and seafood, organic vegetables and wines stand alone or pair well with the food. Bell Tower Shops, 13499 S. Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers; (239) 466-3663.

10. There's a bit of Miami in South Beach Grille-curvy architecture, sherbet-colored walls and the din of patrons at play. The food has SoBe sophistication, too, with tangy citrus and sweet fruit flavors enhancing seafood and steaks cooked on the grill. From the people who did Pippin's in Naples (and a former partner in Bonita's South Bay Bistro), this place brings dining panache to south Estero Island. Santini Marina Plaza, 7205 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; (239) 463-7770. 

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