New & Hot
Dining & Nightlife
Agave Southwestern Grill
Location: 2380 Vanderbilt Beach Road, North Naples (former Uno Chicago Grill)
Details: (239) 598-3473, agavenaples.com
What’s the buzz: The creators of Angelina’s Ristorante in Bonita Springs fuse Mexican, Spanish and Native American fare over a wood-fired grill. Featuring more than 150 varieties of tequila. And did we mention the guacamole is made tableside?
Be the first to try: The crown jewel of all tequilas, the 1800 Coleccion limited edition for 2010—$2,400 per bottle, $295 per shot. The very definition of drinking responsibly.
Don’t miss this: The center-cut beef tenderloin topped with goat cheese gratin over smoked jalapeño-cheddar mashed potatoes.
Location: 8930 Tamiami Trail N., Naples, next to Mercato
Details: (239) 594-8852;
What’s the buzz: The fresh grill and wine bar changes its menu to reflect each season’s harvest. Cooler still, nothing on the menu is more than 475 calories—including their entrées and famous mini- indulgent desserts.
Be the first to try: The turkey tenderloin skewer with vegetable pearl pasta, haricots verts and tamarind glaze.
Don’t miss this: The pumpkin pie mini with double gingersnap crust. Mmmm.
Location: 10711 Tamiami Trail N., Naples
Details: Opening Nov.11; (239) 597-7827;
What’s the buzz: Classic French cuisine with a nod to the Normandy and Brittany regions. That means a lot of fresh seafood—taking full advantage of the local market—in an atmosphere of original antique French art.
Be the first to try: The French onion soup, made Normandy-style—with cream and apple cider. After one spoonful you’ll surrender to a German.
Don’t miss this: The chocolate soufflé with Grand Marnier and served with an orange flower water crème anglaise.
Location: 1290 Third St. S., Naples
Details: Opening late November/early December;
What’s the buzz: Fabrizio Aielli of Sea Salt is dropping an authentic Italian bistro into the heart of Naples featuring fresh pasta, pizza and homemade gelato in a casual, courtyard restaurant. Windows from the street give passersby a look into the kitchen.
Be the first to try: The mix-and-match rotisserie with pork, beef, lamb and duck delivered to the table via sword.
Don’t miss this: Though 98 percent of desserts are gelato-based, you must try the Nutella pizza with caramelized bananas and whipped cream.
Location: 469 Fifth Ave. S., Naples
Details: (239) 776-7938; osetranaples.com
What’s the buzz: A champagne and caviar bar on Fifth Avenue South? Yes, please! Inside, the vibe is decidedly upscale with a nod to South Beach bling. Best of all, it serves food until 2 a.m. Crab-meat martinis? ’Nuf said.
Be the first to try: A kilo party. That’s right, one kilo of sturgeon genealogy. Price? $6,000 to $18,000.
Don’t miss this: Osetra also handles jet service and yacht service (the latter giving the caviar one last, best shot at life in the deep).
Location:51 U.S. 41. S., Naples
Details:(855) 930-1010; gyreneburger.net
What’s the buzz:The man who gave the world Domino’s Pizza (not to mention Ave Maria University) is at it again, this time turning the world of delivery on its ear with gourmet hamburgers delivered straight to your door.
Be the first to try: If necessity is the mother of invention, minimalism is the father of profitability—Gyrene Burger only offers two things, and they’re both burgers. The Classic comes with ketchup, mustard and pickle, while the Deluxe has lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. Both feature double angus beef patties, cheese and bacon. No fries for you.
Don’t miss this: Since there’s no dine-in option, you’ll have to stop in for pick-up or, if you’re within the 1.5-mile delivery radius, have it delivered for free by jogging gyrenes.
Location:13451 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers
Details:(239) 791-8554; lushfortmyers.com
What’s the buzz: One look at the website, and you’ll know you’re not in Kansas anymore. One step inside, and you’ll be cooler than you’ve ever been before. Chef Shannon Yates, formerly of Bacchus and Crü, delivers another knockout heavy on tapas.
Be the first to try:TheOriental spaghetti. It’s geographically schizophrenic in the best possible way.
Don’t miss this:Plan to sample the extensive wine list whilerelaxing under the perfectly illuminated banyan tree.
World of Beer
Location: Bell Tower Shops, 13499
S. Cleveland Ave., Suite 111, Fort Myers
Details: (239) 437-2411; wobusa.com
What’s the buzz: As if the name doesn’t give enough of a description, consider this: 536 beers, 51 taps. That’s a level of “hoptimism” we haven’t felt in a very long time.
Be the first to try: The Red Monk—a blend of St. Bernardus ABT12 and framboise, a sweet raspberry beer, mixed before your very eyes (and beloved by your very tastebuds).
Don’t miss this: The live music chaser Thursdays through Saturdays.
Location: Gulf Coast Town Center, 9902 Gulf Coast Main St., Fort Myers
What’s the buzz: It may not technically be health food, but by using 100 percent USDA-certified organic, grass-fed, free-range beef ground on premises and using only olive oil, it’s a burger that you can’t feel bad about. Trust us, it’ll take you to a higher place—which is good, because we’re all at sea level. The chain is also planning to open a Naples location either later this year or in early 2012 off Naples Boulevard near the Regal Hollywood 20.
Be the first to try: The Vertigo Burger—build your own three-to-10-patty burger.
Don’t miss this: The milkshake blends—featuring anything from Key lime pie to guava.
Connors Steak & Seafood
Location: Gulf Coast Town Center, 10076 Gulf Center Drive, Fort Myers
Details: Opening in December; thechophouse.com
What’s the buzz: This highly respected Southern establishment known for its use of premium aged steaks and fresh seafood opens just its third location—and we’re the better for it.
Be the first to try: The nine-ounce Boursin filet featuring a cap of Boursin cheese and covered in covered in crispy tobacco onions.
Don’t miss this: Their German chocolate upside- down cake. It’s so perfect that when you finish it, you feel as if you’re in Austria.
George & Wendy’s Corner Grill
Location: Sanibel Island
Details: (239)395-1263; georgeandwendyscornergrill.com
What’s the buzz: Exactly what you’d hope to find on Sanibel—fine dining in a very casual atmosphere. The varied menu is filled with fresh seafood options, but the steaks, burgers and reubens are equally worthwhile.
Be the first to try: Tuna balsamico—fresh ahi tuna steak over sautéed garlic, olives, capers and red peppers in a balsamic tomato sauce mixed with gemelli pasta.
Don’t miss this: The biggest freestanding restaurant on Sanibel has a lot of wall space and much of it is devoted to world-renowned Islamorada artist Stacie Krupa.
Location: 2262 First St.,
Details: (239) 332-7797 What’s the buzz: An upscale contemporary restaurant in the River District featuring fresh seafood, steaks, pasta salads and boutique wines in a bright, relaxing environment—directly across from the Arcade Theatre.
Be the first to try: The pan-seared sea scallops with roasted potatoes, asparagus and mushroom ragout with balsamic brown butter.
Don’t miss this: Bloody Mary gazpacho topped with blue crab.
New at Waterside Shops
Location:Pine Ridge Road and Tamiami Trail N., Naples
What’s the buzz: The popular retail location adds two new boutiques to its upscale lineup this fall, including Michael Kors and Isabella, a European, multi-brand concept. Also this month, Saks Fifth Avenue expands its designer shoe salon, dubbed 10022-SHOE after the one at the New York flagship. As part of the launch, it will add selections from Alexandre Birman, Yves Saint Laurent and Brian Atwood to its current assortment of Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Prada, Manolo Blahnik and other high-end names.
Location: The Village on Venetian Bay, Naples
Details: (239) 514-5009;
What’s the buzz: The trendy boutique for men and women moves to its new location at The Village on Venetian Bay. But in-store is no longer the only place you can shop Lux—now you can order your jeans, tees, and other accessories and apparel online through its website, as well.
A. Jaron Fine Jewelry
Location: 6310 Trail Blvd. N., Suite A, Naples
Details: Open by appointment Monday through Saturday; (239) 293-2932; ajaron.com
What’s the buzz: Get a glimpse into jewelry designer Amanda Jaron’s creative process at her newly opened Naples studio across from Waterside Shops. Visitors can sneak a peek at the artist as she works before purchasing signature pieces from the attached showroom.
New in downtown Naples
What’s the buzz: No longer just a one-stop shop for rare fragrances and luxury skincare, La Femme Perfumery on 12th Avenue South now does double duty as a full-service salon. Provident Jewelry, which buys and sells fine and antique jewelry and watches, is opening a new location at 766 Fifth Avenue South in addition to its existing Fifth Avenue South and Fort Myers locations. Marissa Collections, the 10,000-square-foot haven for designer duds, has expanded its extensive offerings to include sleek, feminine pieces by up-and-coming American designer L’Wren Scott, whose creations have been worn by the likes of Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Angelina Jolie, Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
New at Miromar Outlets
Location: Corkscrew Road and I-75, Estero
What’s the buzz: Rounding out the lineup of top department store outlets already at Miromar Outlets (Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus) is the much-hyped Bloomingdales, one of only four such locations in the U.S. Discount-happy shoppers will also revel in newly opened Vera Bradley, Bare Escentuals, Haggar, Spritz Designer Fragrance and Greg Norman golf apparel stores.
New at Coconut Point
Location: Coconut Road and U.S. 41, Estero
What’s the buzz: Whether it’s to commemorate a special occasion or just for everyday wear, jewelry enthusiasts now can visit Pandora at Coconut Point to create customized bracelets from more than 600 charms in sterling silver, 14-karat gold and two-tone. Women’s boutique Francesca’s Collections (whose sweet dresses and unique home accessories remind us a bit of Anthropologie at a lower price point) and Epic 31, a jewelry and art retailer, also open this fall.
Location: International Plaza, Tampa
What’s the buzz: We firmly believe there is some shopping worth leaving our Southwest Florida bubble for, and Henri Bendel is one of them. But you no longer have to hit Fifth Avenue in New York for those signature brown and white stripes—now a short drive to the north will find you amongst all the jewelry, handbags, candles and fragrances that made its flagship so famous.
Arts & Culture
Performing at: Bayshore Festival of the Arts
Details: Jan. 28–29 at Sugden Community Park in Naples. The festival is free; onsite
parking is $5.
What’s the buzz: A year after hometown girl Paige Miles took the country by storm on American Idol, teenage singer-songwriter Weston became an overnight sensation thanks to The Voice, NBC’s new singing competition. Under the guidance of Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, Weston showed off the talents savvy Southwest Florida music lovers had already seen firsthand. Now, as she’s launching a career with some calling her the next Taylor Swift, Weston isn’t forgetting her roots. She’s signed on to be the centerpiece of the Bayshore Cultural and Performing Arts Center’s signature fundraising festival in January.
Behind the scenes at: Memphis, the Tony-winning musical coming to the Philharmonic Center for
the Arts, Naples
Details: Feb. 14–19, showtimes vary. Tickets: $82-$102
What’s the buzz: Locally, Baker along with her husband, Jay, are known for their philanthropy—especially the $10 million they donated to the Phil for the Patty and Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art. But Patty Baker is now making waves on Broadway. She was an early investor and later producer of Memphis, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical, along with three other awards. She’s financed this year’s Broadway production of Catch Me If You Can as well. Now that Memphis is on tour, she brought the production to Naples to show the town the magic she’s helping make.
Coming to town: May 14–20
What’s the buzz: A festival embracing a diverse group of venues and styles to shine a spotlight on the arts of a particular region. For its inaugural year, the festival organizers have decided to focus on the fertile fields of Mother Russia, bringing in classical music, opera, ballet, theater, visual arts and more. Highlights will include the St. Petersburg Orchestra, the play The Inspector General and performances by Classic Chamber Concerts. But there will also be jazz, children’s theater and more in this immersion into the soul of Russian art.
International Fine Art Expositions
Location: Naples International Pavilion, 4835 Immokalee Road, Naples
Details: Feb. 24 to Mar. 1 and Mar. 17–24
What’s the buzz: After the massive success of their first two shows, David and Lee Ann Lester are bringing back their Naples International Art & Antiques Fair, which focuses on classic art and Art Naples, a modern art showcase, to the retrofitted supermarket they lease off Immokalee Road. The first fair, held last February, saw two sales top $1.5 million along with millions more in smaller deals. The contemporary show brought in work from heavyweights such as Robert Rauschenberg, Chuck Close and Fernando Botero. We’re eager to see how the Lesters plan on topping their initial efforts.
What’s the buzz: You’d think Derek Perry would be happy with his band, Fake Problems, starting to make waves on the national punk scene. But the bass player isn’t just looking out for himself. He founded Neapolitan Underground, formally known as South Florida Performing Arts Development Corp., an organization dedicated to helping artists of all stripes who work outside the mainstream. So far the focus is on music, with a few concerts featuring nationally known punk artists, but the goal is to bring in all sorts of performing arts by creating a new venue that caters to an independent-minded crowd.
Florida Repertory Theatre
Location: The Arcade Theatre, 2267 First St., Fort Myers
Details: Opens the season with Neil Simon’s Rumors, which runs through the 19th. (239) 332-4488; floridarep.org
What’s the buzz: A season after earning national acclaim thanks to a Wall Street Journal article calling it “one of America’s top repertory companies,” Florida Rep is looking to back up the talk with a season of great plays. From comedies, including the troupe’s traditional Christmastime run of The Santaland Diaries, to Tony-winning dramas Red and God of Carnage, the lineup is full of hits. And the company is taking its show on the road, so to speak, with performances at the Naples Philharmonic.
Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center
Location: 2301 First St., Fort Myers
Details: (239) 337-1933; sbdac.com
What’s the buzz: In just a few years, Executive Director Jim Griffith has transformed a run-down but beautiful piece of Fort Myers history into a home for the city’s growing art scene. From visual art exhibits to edgy stage adaptations to the Fort Myers Film Festival (more on that later), the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center is the hub around which the downtown art community is building.
Location: downtown Fort Myers
What’s the buzz: Fresh off being chosen as one of 18 emerging artists to create an image for the new Absolut Vodka campaign, Marcus Jansen is one of Southwest Florida’s most exciting and original artists. Now, Jansen is taking a big step toward becoming one of the arts community’s biggest supporters. In January, Jansen is scheduled to open UNIT A, a 7,000-square-foot public studio space that will also serve as a place for people to see his latest work.
Fort Myers Film Festival
Location: Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, Fort Myers
Details: Monday nights and March 21–25; fortmyersfilmfestival.com
What’s the buzz: Founder and Executive Director Eric Raddatz (who, full disclosure, was once a GSL employee) has taken an idea he spawned while running the inaugural Naples International Film Festival (for more on that, see p. 48) and repeated the success father north. His weekly Intellectualization Mondays, which feature screenings of short films being considered for the festival sprinkled with commentary from local luminaries and performances by musicians all with the help of adult libations, are becoming a must-attend event.
Location: Southwest Florida Museum of History, 2031 Jackson St., Fort Myers
Details: Nov. 11 to Jan. 14; mcmo-swfl.com
What’s the buzz: Short for Mid-Century Modern, MCMO is a collaboration between the Southwest Florida Museum of History and the Southwest Florida chapter of the American Institute of Architects celebrating Mid-Century Modern design throughout the region. In addition to highlighting buildings of that style in our area, the exhibit will feature lectures on furniture design and architecture as well as guided walking tours pointing out the impact the style had on our community.
Boston Red Sox new stadium
Location: off Daniels Parkway near Southwest Florida International Airport
What’s the buzz: A miniature version of Boston’s fabled Fenway Park is on schedule to open in January for the start of the team’s spring training in Fort Myers. After a decade at City of Palms Park, the team and the county are collaborating on what should be the most exciting spring training/minor league baseball complex in the country. The biggest selling feature for the team: An exact replica of their home field complete with the Green Monster. The best parts for fans: easier access and a lot more seating.
Location: Florida Gulf Coast University and Ave Maria University
Details: fgcu.edu; avemaria.edu
What’s the buzz: Football and March Madness. First, Ave Maria is finishing up the first collegiate football season played in Southwest Florida. While the team is building its program and stadium, they are using Palmetto Ridge High School’s facilities.
And finally, after five years of waiting, all FGCU teams are fully qualified for Division I post season play. We could see teams, such as the powerhouse women’s basketball team, playing for national championships this year.
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Location: 1450 Merrihue Drive, Naples
What’s the buzz: After years of doing heroic work on injured wildlife in a clinic built to handle one-fifth of its current patient volume, the Conservancy is getting a state-of-the-art facility. The new von Arx Wildlife Clinic is scheduled to be fully operational in 2012 and will go a long way toward serving a growing population of animals in need. From injured sea birds and turtles to deer and raccoons to hundreds of bats injured in a big storm, the Conser-vancy’s staff and volunteers do a great job in repairing animals who would otherwise go untreated.
Location: the former Border’s bookstore at 10600 U.S. 41 N., Naples
Details: opening sometime in 2011; traderjoes.com
What’s the buzz: Just a few months after telling a local newspaper that they had no intention of opening up Florida locations, the quirky grocery chain announced it was taking over the spot previously home to Border’s in the Granada Shoppes at U.S. 41 and Immokalee Road. Known for its low-prices, including the famous “Two-Buck Chuck” wine, the store doesn’t carry many brands, preferring to sell products under its own label. The stores have a fiercely loyal following around the country and the Naples location should be a popular destination.
Location: Collier County
Details: avenuewinecafe.com; marcoislandbrewery.com; twitter.com/naplesbeachbrewery
What’s the buzz: Long known as a primo destination for wine aficionados, the greater Naples area is quietly becoming home to a growing number of craft beer enthusiasts. Two years ago, Avenue Wine Café opened on Fifth Avenue South bringing a constantly rotating selection of the best craft beers available in the area. Last year, Marco Island Brewery opened up as a brewpub on the island. And early 2012 is the expected launch date for Naples Beach Brewery, which plans on making small batch beers for local bars. It’s a good time to love great beer.
After a decade of planning, the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples is about to open.
Naples probably hasn’t seen a more anticipated cultural opening since the Philharmonic Center for the Arts opened its doors in the late ’80s. And no charity event has built up as much buzz since the Naples Winter Wine Festival launched into the stratosphere.
All told, the opening of the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples in early 2012 and the accompanying Dream Gala are certainly the social events of the coming season. And with good reason. The project has everything you are looking for—an innovative idea, a long list of philanthropic heavyweights behind it and kids. Who can say no to kids?
It started as an idea in Allyson Loos’ head a decade ago when she was looking for a safe place for her son Ben, who has autism, to learn and play. She wanted a spot where children could explore the world right in their own backyard. If things continue to go as planned, that’s exactly what Southwest Florida will have.
With 30,000 square feet of floor space, the museum will offer a diverse array of interactive opportunities for young folks and the young at heart. While the museum is built for children, it’s meant to be fun and educational for the whole family, says Executive Director Joe Cox.
And most importantly, it will be accessible to children regardless of physical or developmental abilities.
“Since birth I’ve been deaf in my left ear…,” Cox says. “It certainly makes me very conscious of the importance of making the Children’s Museum fully accessible to any visitor.”
The whimsical exterior design has inspired conversation amongst passersby for a couple of years now as it has gone up on the grounds of North Collier Regional Park. But those anxious to see the interior won’t be disappointed.
The most talked about exhibit is a banyan tree that towers above the other exhibits and serves as the central point of reference for the museum. Expect to see kids climbing it every time you enter the museum.
Each of the 12 main exhibits includes ingenious learning opportunities seamlessly built into their activities. At the farm exhibit, kids are assigned a job via a spin of a wheel. While they are having fun learning about an important part of Florida’s economy, they are also learning to work as a team to accomplish tasks.
The produce market lets kids play grown-up by choosing the groceries to purchase. But at the same time it is subtly reinforcing math skills by including counting, weighing, grouping and sorting into the activity.
The museum is also about inspiring interactivity between children, something Cox says is lacking in today’s increasingly virtual world.
“Once they get into the museum, (kids) are going to have to work with other children to accomplish, whether it is building or farming or whatever,” he says.
Although there is an admission price, $10 per visitor or $120 for an annual membership, the museum’s leadership is planning on monthly free days so that any child who wants to come will be able to.
“We want this to be an inclusive space, where any child can be free to play and explore,” Cox says.
The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples is scheduled to open in February 2012. The Dream Gala, a fundraising party to celebrate the museum’s opening and to help raise operational funds, will be held March 23. For more information on both, call (239) 514-0084 or visit cmon.org.