Hot Dish

Hot Dish: April 29, 2009

BY April 29, 2009

Inside the Gulfshore’s dining scene.


Vivi Ristorante Brightens Naples’ Coastland Center


Vivi Ristorante, nestled between Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Macy’s at Coastland Center, is the newest Italian restaurant in town. With lunches from $5 to $13.50, and more than 50 dinner items from $5 to $23, this truly is, as co-owner Miguel Sacal calls it, “primarily a neighborhood restaurant for year-round people, serving great food at reasonable prices.”


Vivi Ristorante at Coastland Center


The casually upscale setting is open, with an outside patio that seats 20 and ample room inside for 190 people. The décor is elegantly simple, with tall ceilings, tile floors and a comfortable bar area. The wait staff is dapper in black pants, long white shirts and black aprons that look like vests.


I tried the lunch menu’s ravioli di porcini ($12.50), a generous portion of ravioli with tender porcini mushrooms and chicken in a creamy saffron sauce. Delicious!


Nearby diners raved about the zuppa mare e monti, with mixed fish, calamari, shrimp, clam broth and tomato with bits of zucchini for $5.50. With most lunch items under $12, this may be the next “power lunch” spot. There are all the classic Italian favorites for lunch and dinner, like the lombata parmigiana ($19.95) with a flattened veal chop, lightly breaded, topped with marinara sauce and a good amount of melted mozzarella.


Vivi’s lombata parmigiana

There’s also osso buco ($19.95) and various fish dishes for under $19. Wines by the glass range from $6-$8, and martinis range from Vivi’s Appletini for $9 to the Ultimate Martini for $12. Desserts include baked Alaska, tiramisu, banana cream pie and warm apple tart, each for $8.50. What better way to shop and dine in Naples?


Coastland Center, 1900 Tamiami Trail N., Suite A-2, Naples. 434-9923.


Southern Cookin’—and Lower Prices—at Lee Roy Selmon’s


Lee Roy Selmon’s is one of my top 10 dining choices in Fort Myers. It’s gotten even better! The Tampa Bay football legend has kept the great Southern-home-cooking taste and portion sizes and now lowered prices, so the average lunch and dinner prices are $6.49 and $9.99, respectively. I’ll watch basketball or football on the 52-inch wide-screen TVs, and dine on my favorites—his Mama’s grilled meatloaf, cheese and bacon grits, twisted chicken, gumbo and ribs. He’s added the incredible new sweet, heat-fried chicken sandwich and the 7 oz. flame-grilled sirloin steak.


Bread pudding at Lee Roy Selmon’s


Dessert is a tasty toss-up for me, between the bread pudding and the chocolate layer cake. Mr. Selmon visits his restaurant, and he’s just as down to earth as you would hope.


Lee Roy Selmon himself


5056 Daniels Parkway, Fort Myers, across from the Bell Tower Shops. 690-3287. 



Naples World Wine Tour


The Downtown Naples Association’s  Spring World Wine Tour is a sell-out every year, and this year’s on April 23 was well-attended. Restaurants such as Ristorante D’Angeli, Café Lurcat, Bella Maria Café, Truluck’s, Corks Steakhouse & Seafood Grille, Roy’s, McCabe’s Irish Pub and Grill, Zizi Restaurant & Lounge and others offered gourmet nibbles with wine. A great way to sample new food and meet new friends.


Guests sample ricotta ravioi and penne pasta at Ristorante D’Angeli.


New Restaurants in Town


You’d think the economy was better than ever with the abundance of new restaurants opening. Recently opened spots include Naples’ Sweet Mama’s Island Cuisine at 336 Ninth St. N. (331-8509); The Pub, an authentic British “gastropub” at Naples’ Mercato (594-2748); Doc Ford’s at 708 Fisherman’s Wharf, Fort Myers Beach (765-9660); and Il Tesoro, A.J. Black’s newest venture on Sanibel Island at the former site of Melissa’s Café, 751 Tarpon Bay Road (395-4022). More to follow on these!


Let’s broaden our dining choices together. Post your hints and experiences of great Southwest Florida restaurants below, as a comment, or email

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