Seasons 52, a fresh grill and wine bar, is expected to open in the fall of 2011 on U.S. 41 in Naples between Mercato and Fifth Third Bank. It’s part of the Darden Restaurant Group, along with sister spots The Capital Grille, Red Lobster and Olive Garden. Seasons 52 promises to offer “appropriate portion sizes” and guarantees that “everything is under 475 calories.” The restaurant will seat more than 330 people inside and out. The menu features flatbreads, light appetizers and salads. The 10 dinner entrées play it safe with plank salmon, caramelized sea scallops and char-crust filet mignon, accentuated by fresh produce and a menu that changes four times a year. Slender Europeans rarely stray from the small-plates concept. I’m glad this healthy calorie-conscious concept is becoming more popular than “supersizing.”
Downtown Fort Myers’ The Morgan House Restaurant outgrew its 16-year location at the corner of First and Dean streets and moved 150 feet into the expansive, two-story former site of Patio 33 in the Patio de Leon. It has 10 new menu items. But don’t worry, there’s still “Turf Ate My Surf,” with two large shrimp stuffed with crab meat, wrapped with filet mignon and applewood-smoked bacon, glazed with bourbon and served with mango salsa ($26). Other must-haves include cheese-filled tortellini with shrimp and Cajun lobster cream sauce ($22), and the 10-ounce, chipotle-glazed grilled pork chop with a guava chipotle barbecue sauce ($23). With tasty food and reasonable prices, Morgan House has become a strong River District magnet. 33 Patio de Leon, Fort Myers, 337-3377, www.morganhouserestaurant.com.
Estero’s hidden gem, the award-winning Ristorante Farfalla, has some of the finest Italian food in Florida, served in an elegant setting. My favorites include the black and saffron seafood fettuccine’s Maine lobster, New Zealand mussels, shrimp and littleneck clams ($33), and the rack of veal special with imported porcini mushrooms in a demi-glace. Chef Fattah now offers three-hour cooking class demonstrations on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:30–3:30 p.m. Learn to prepare, then dine on three gourmet-quality, full Italian courses, with two glasses of premium wine for $50, including tax and tip. Classes are November through April, except for December. 21301 Tamiami Trail N., Estero, 495-9912, www.ristorantefarfalla.com.