Inside the Gulfshore’s Dining Scene
Wilim takes over Crü as Roland takes on Naples
Brian Roland will soon leave his role as executive chef at Crü in Fort Myers to migrate south to Naples. In October, he will become executive chef for M Waterfront Grille in the former site of Maxwell’s at Village on Venetian Bay. The new menu has not yet been announced, however expect the best!
Crü’s new executive chef, Richie Wilim Jr., the restaurant’s former chef de cuisine, seamlessly moves up the culinary ladder, maintaining his signature innovative cuisine. The restaurant scene is healthy, innovative and tasty wherever these two fine chefs are involved.
IM Tapas offers authentic Spanish fare
IM Tapas executive chef Isabel Pozo Polo and chef Mary Shipman
IM Tapas is the undiscovered pearl of Southwest Florida, and is, hands down, one of the best restaurants in Southwest Florida. With its delicious Spanish food, European setting of warmth and coziness, and friendly servers, it offers a culinary education and experience that’s just not to be missed.
Taste the superb high quality of such unique specialties as the wild acorn-fed Iberian ham, the luscious Fabadas Asturiana soup’s 1 ½-inch white beans with green onions, morcilla sausage and Spanish chorizo ($8), the subtle richness of the fire-roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao ($10) or the seared duck breast with figs and port wine reduction ($15).
My Spanish dining companion pronounced IM Tapas to be of the highest quality and authenticity. The place was packed Friday night with a younger, highly appreciative group more savvy of international food than is often found in Naples. My companion and I were the only “first-timers” there!
Executive chef Isabel Pozo Polo, a blaze of motion in the kitchen, has created nearly all the art on the walls. With chef Mary Shipman and Spanish wine expert and Unfiltered Unfined Wines’ Jane Delaney’s selections, your evening will be one to be treasured. Don’t be surprised if the chefs visit your table during a lull. Weekend reservations are helpful. IM Tapas, 965 4th Ave. N., Naples, (239) 403-8272.
Angelina’s pairs the perfect wine with fresh Italian creations
Tiramisu at Angelina’s Ristorante
Bonita Springs’ Angelina’s Ristorante, the newest Italian restaurant in Southwest Florida, has set the bar high in terms of freshness of ingredients and culinary creativity. The entrance is impressive, with an almost three-story, air-conditioned wine tower that can hold more than 3,200 bottles of wine—the wine list is a delight to peruse.
Angelina’s Ristorante sommelier Angelina Robertson
The efficient staff knows the food selection well, and sommelier Angelina Robertson is spot on with wine pairings. The wines listing for less than $100 are now half price. The real deal! Try the rabbit “affumicato,” wrapped in smoky speck di alto adige ($13); the incredible sweet and savory flatbread ($8); duck risotto ($23); seafood cioppino ($24); or the wonderful smoked wild boar ($35), when available. Finish it off with a $3 dessert that includes tiramisu with Kahlua gelee, vanilla mascarpone cheesecake, or white chocolate raviolis. Sample the $28 pre fix menu for an assortment of seafood, flatbread and pasta.
The creativity and high quality has Angelina’s filled on weekend nights, just by word of mouth. There’s no typical lasagna or spaghetti; this is delicious Italian food with a fresh attitude! Open Tuesday-Saturday. 24041 S. Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs, (239) 390-3187.
Naples’ Noodles offers Friday night summer specials
Sashimi at Noodles Italian Cafe & Sushi Bar
Naples’ Noodles Italian Café & Sushi Bar now offers “Friday Summer Specials” to encourage families and friends to celebrate the end of the week with reduced prices every Friday night this summer. All children younger than 10 eat free from the children’s menu with the purchase of an adult entrée; guests also enjoy a free Happy Hour appetizer buffet from 5-7 p.m., a free bottle of house wine with two adult entrée purchases (minimum $30) and half-priced cocktails on all liquors from 4 pm until close.
Noodles serves not only tasty Italian food but very good quality sushi and sashimi—thankfully there’s no fusion of the two cuisines! Noodles, Mission Square Plaza, 1585 Pine Ridge Road, Naples. (239) 370-6577.
Bella Colombia offers authentic Latin American dishes
Bonita Springs’ Bella Colombia serves authentic Colombian as well as other Latin American dishes, and my Colombian taster gives them “thumbs up” on quantity and quality. Try the ample bandeja tipica sampler platter ($11), a grilled steak with a spritz of lime, crunchy chicharron or fried slice of pork skin and the white corn patty, or arepa, with a fried sweet plantain.
The lengua a la criolla ($11.50), or simmered tongue, is a delicate preparation that’s truly melt-in-your-mouth tender. This alone is worth the trip, and it comes with rice, beans, a green salad, potato and juca, a starchy potato-like tuber. For something special, order the ajiaco bogotano (chicken and three-different-potato soup), perhaps the national dish of central Colombia, a couple of days ahead, and save the airfare to Bogota, Colombia! 3431 Bonita Beach Road, Suite 210, (239) 495-9943.
Handsome Harry’s offers Summer Wine Dinners series
wine selection at Handsome Harry’s
Handsome Harry’s, known for live music every evening, is featuring Italy’s Antinori Wines at its third in the series of Summer Wine Dinners on Tuesday, August 19 with a 7:30 pm seating, for $125 per person plus tax and gratuity.
General Manager Larry Luizzi says, “Chianti Classico, Bolgheri, Montalcino, Orvieto, Montepulciano—all famous zones—as well as Sovana and southern Maremma, which are both emerging zones, will be the wines introduced at the dinner.”
The dinner will include as a second course roasted prawn and braised baby artichokes with eggplant caponata mint pesto and lemon mascarpone. The third course is risotto studded with porcini mushrooms, Maine lobster and sundried tomatoes, and the fourth course offers polpettes (fried meatballs) with prosciutto di parma ham and escarole. The fifth course features spinach and pignole stuffed loin of veal with gorgonzola essence. And check out the dessert! 1205 Third Street S., Naples. Call for reservations, (239) 434-6400.
E-mail me your hints and experiences to [email protected], and let’s broaden our choices of great Southwest Florida restaurants together.