Hot Dish

Hot Dish: Dec. 24, 2008

BY January 5, 2009
Inside the Gulfshore’s Dining Scene
Naples Welcomes McCormick & Schmick’s Fresh Seafood Fare
McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant has opened with a splash at Naples’ Mercato. From the welcoming dark-wood-and-brass bar to the dining room’s semi-private booths, there’s a rich, old-fashioned charm, with tasteful use of woods, subdued Frank Lloyd Wright-style stained glass lighting and truly comfortable chairs.

McCormick & Schmick’s

And talk about fresh—the menu changes twice a day as shipments arrive. There’s blackened snapper from Key West ($15), Idaho’s almond-encrusted mountain trout ($19), Prince Edward Island’s Malpeque oysters and prosciutto-wrapped sea scallops from Georges Bank, Mass. ($24). I flipped over Canada’s Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon, lusciously stuffed with blue crab, bay shrimp and brie cheese. A large portion is only $25. 

My dining partners raved about the ample, tender Islamorada swordfish “casino,” filled with blue crab, bacon and bell peppers, served over spaetzle ($23). Sample the Caribbean-style grilled black grouper, served with coconut curry and Gulf shrimp ($27).

The bar is packed, serving only freshly made drinks, including large mojitos ($8), to accompany a bevy of $1.95 priced foods, from a bowl of steamed mussels, to 8-ounce hamburgers—yes, a tasty, half-pound burger under $2! The line forms behind me!

The generous portions of seafood are perfectly cooked by Executive Chef Domhnall Molly, and the entrées, priced from $11 to $30, offer great value. 9114 Strada Place, Suite 12110, Naples, in Mercato, 591-2299.
Sea Salt Brings Casual Elegance to Third Avenue South
Along with his artistic wife Ingrid and partner Lili Montes, nationally acclaimed Executive Chef Fabrizio Aielli, creator of Washington D.C.’s highly regarded Teatro Goldoni, has created the hottest new spot in Old Naples! Sea Salt’s freshly creative design leaps from the pages of a stylish architecture magazine to its prime people-watching location across from Campiello’s. 

Lili Montes, Executive Chef Fabrizio Aielli, Ingrid Aielli

Check out the relaxed outdoor patio and bar, and the inside wooden floors and ceilings, 3-D limestone walls and a “chef’s table” properly placed in the gleaming kitchen. The floor-to-ceiling wine room houses more than 200 labels.

Sea Salt

The seafood is so fresh! Chef Aielli’s beautiful appetizers range from steamed red curry coconut black mussels ($12) to pan-seared foie gras with Godiva chocolate consommé, Himalayan pink salt and kumquats ($18). I felt like royalty, savoring the thinly sliced sautéed calamari with Portobello mushroom cappuccino and the root vegetable fettuccine topped with a quail egg ($12). Try the large portion of oh-so-lightly battered crispy assortment of calamari, shrimp, oysters, scallops and salted lemon ($19). 

The lobster risotto with shaved white truffle, roasted tomato and sweet basil is a perfect marriage of sweet lobster and earthy truffle. You can’t beat the roasted salmon, marinated in limoncello, with a green lentil-mustard sauce, Cipollini onions, and shaved poached red pear (28). Top it off with pistachio gelato or black salt sorbet ($3). Come casual, come dressy; it’s the place for a casually elegant lunch or dinner, just two blocks from a romantic stroll on the beach! 1186 Third St. S., Naples, 434-7258.

Have you tried McCormick & Schmick’s or Sea Salt? Share your thoughts by posting a comment below or via e-mail at

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