Hot Dish: Aug. 12, 2009
Inside the Gulfshore’s Dining Scene.
Naples’ Blue Martini Is an Instant Hit
Blue Martini at Mercato in Naples has been packed with more than 250 guests almost every night since opening, offering pretty martinis and light food to savor. Walking by the open bar in front, you’d think it’s been the center of Naples’ night life for years.
Blue Martini at Mercato in Naples
It’s a long, lean, attractive club, luring patrons in their 20s through their 80s for its Happy Hour, narrowing to mostly 20s and 30s later in the evening. Two main indoor bars are busy, and the large outdoor bar is just right for short-sleeve weather. Food is primarily flatbreads, bruschetta ($8), a fruit-and-cheese plate ($14), seared tuna ($14), steak sandwich ($14) and a lobster taco ($20). Blue Martini, 9114 Strada Place, Suite 12105, Naples, 591-BLUE (2583), www.bluemartinilounge.com.
Taste Wines from Around the World
Naples’ Sea Salt offers complimentary wine tastings of a different country’s wine from 6-7 p.m. the last three Wednesdays in August. Stay for dinner and get 50 percent off any wine featured in the evening’s tasting. Tonight’s tasting features wines of Argentina. Aug.19 features wines of Italy, and Aug. 26 features wines of New Zealand.
Sea Salt's Chef's Table
The dinners are elegant, and the Chef’s Table Tasting is terrific. There’s also live flamenco guitar music Friday and Saturday from 7-10 p.m. Sea Salt, 1186 Third St. S., Naples, 434-7258, www.seasaltnaples.com.
Vincenzo’s on the Bay Offers Summer Seafood Specialties
Vincenzo’s on the Bay is under new management with new chefs. Co-Owner Liza Borman was a server at the Bonita Springs restaurant years ago, and when the opportunity arose to buy it, along with James Parrott, from an absentee owner, they jumped on it.
Vincenzo's on the Bay
I stopped by for drinks in the cozy bar. A group of 30 folks from The Ritz were in the back, dining with the view of the bay. The Italian food is popular, and folks like the seafood risotta ($24) and summer menu specialties such as salmon Vincenzo’s ($22) and lobster ravioli ($22). Vincenzo’s on the Bay, 5370 Bonita Beach Rd., Bonita Springs, 992-1159, www.vincenzosonthebay.com.
Find Treats Year-Round at Naples’ Third Street South Farmer’s Market
The Third Street South Farmer’s Market is now held every Saturday from 7:30-11:30 a.m. in the big parking lot behind Tommy Bahama’s.
Aunt Nan's Brad and Julie Kiltz at the Farmer's Market.
There’s fresh local produce, fresh pastas and baked goods, jams and jellies, plants and herbs, coffee and herbal tea, and lots of fun!
Mia Rognstad at the Farmer's Market.
I like Aunt Nan’s gourmet cheesecakes, Mia Rognstad’s organic produce, and I took home some fresh slipper lobster tails from Ralph’s Seafood. A special treat is a fresh French crepe from Bamboo Café.
Comings and Goings...
Three more restaurants have closed in Naples:
Shark’s Cavern offered a sports bar environment with higher-end and higher-priced food, and very good entertainment.
The Everglades Café was a favorite breakfast and lunch spot for years, near NCH Downtown Hospital.
Bianchi’s at Bayfront, now empty, was packed during season, serving Chef Gino Sciallis’ very good Italian food. Chrissy and Fadi Rabil put their hearts into the elegant venture in the former site of Il Bellagio and Grill Club Churrascaria.
Other closings around the area include Bonita Springs’ Yummy Coffee and Gelato, and Bonita Bistro Cuban Restaurant, and Fort Myers’ Artistic Café.
Let’s broaden our dining choices together. Post your hints and experiences of great Southwest Florida restaurants below, as a comment, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.