September 3, 2014
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Hot Dish/What We're Drinking

Ivan Seligman's latest restaurant finds,plus Jonathan Foerster on summer beers.

Wittekerke beer

Wittekerke beer

HOT DISH

Verdi’s Bistro is one of Marco Island’s must-try dining spots. My favorites of Chef Martin’s appetizers include warm baked brie with balsamic drizzle and steamed little neck clams. Savor pan-seared tilapia with orange segments and dates in a citrus butter sauce, crispy duck with ginger and raspberry hoisin sauce, and a tangy meatloaf that’s definitely unlike anything Mom made. Marco Islanders enjoy free home or hotel delivery until 6 p.m. 241 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, 394-5533, verdisbistro.com

For delicious casual dining, drink specials and live music from the ’60s to the ’90s, head to southern Lee County and The Sandy Parrot. Tasty starters include the teriyaki-glazed tiki rolls with crab meat and spicy cream cheese, and Tuscan herb chicken soup. My favorite entrees include pan-seared grouper Florentine, char-grilled ribeye steak, tender baby back ribs, and crunchy mariachi chicken breast with sautéed onions and sweet peppers. Finish with a slice of Mike’s Key lime pie. 17200 S. Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers, 454-8454, thesandyparrot.com

Chef Vincenzo Betulia’s Osteria Tulia offers great covered seating along Fifth Avenue South as well as a rustic, chic dining room. Along with his mother, father and cousin, he prepares rich peasant-style family recipes. Try the caramelized Brussels sprouts and fennel sausage, Sicilian meatballs with pine nuts and currants, and slow-braised duck ragu with red wine. Specialties are tortelloni with braised beef short rib and foie gras, wood-grilled lamb rack scottaditi and braised lamb sugo. 466 Fifth Ave. S., Naples, 213-2073, tulianaples.com

—Ivan Seligman

What We’re Drinking

Beers to put in the cooler this summer.

AS THE WEATHER IS HEATING UP, IT’S A good time to take a quick look at some of the great beer you can find locally that will make you the hit of any beach party or barbecue you attend. We’ve decided to go with cans since many craft brewers are making their brews available in the format, and they work much better in a cooler.

Wittekerke is a smooth Belgian wit-style beer that is relatively low-alcohol (5 percent), with an easy lemony flavor perfect for a warm afternoon on the patio. You can find this at most well-stocked beer and wine stores, though you aren’t likely to see it at supermarkets or convenience stores.

Cigar City is a Florida brand that is taking the craft beer world by storm. It continues to pump out high-quality brews from its Tampa headquarters. Hop-heads love Jai Alai, the company’s bold IPA. Heavy on the hops, with plenty of citrus bitterness up front and a bit of caramel at the finish, this 7.5 percent ABV brew is becoming pretty widely available in Southwest Florida, even popping up in many grocery stores.

Finally, from the folks who really made cans cool again for small brewers, Oskar Blues has a wonderful Scotch Ale called Old Chub. At 8 percent ABV, you aren’t going to want to drink too many of these if you are operating heavy machinery (your car) later. But with a smooth smoky malt flavor, that’s going to be a tough chore.

 —Jonathan Foerster

 

 

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