Hot Dish

Hot Dish: June 24, 2009

BY June 24, 2009
Inside the Gulfshore’s Dining Scene.
Watch the Flames at Mercato’s Piola
Piola, at Naples’ Mercato, is literally the hottest new kid in town. Just east of AZN and The Pub, the Italian restaurant with a warm, contemporary décor is a great place to go for delicious, authentic pizza, pastas, beef or fish. Nearly all dishes are between $9 and $19—and you can see the flames of the blazing brick oven where the thin-crust pizzas are fired for two minutes.

Como pizza at Piola in Naples.

My Como pizza’s paper-thin, rich Parma ham and luscious porcini mushrooms sat atop a light tomato sauce and mozzarella base. It was light and delicate, with surprisingly fresh bold accents. Two or three can share this, or dozens of other pizzas, for $11 to $16. Open 5 p.m. to late night, with Happy Hour specials. Piola, 9118 Strada Place, Naples (at Mercato’s east end, at U.S. 41 and Vanderbilt Beach Road), 592-5056.

Traditional Czech Fare Comes to Naples
Little Prague Bistro and Bakery opened last week in Naples, serving traditional Czech home cooking.

Little Prague Bistro and Bakery in Naples

I loved the duck with red cabbage ($27), and the most popular entrees are the “Svickova” beef with veggie cream sauce ($16), and the crisp, breaded Wiener schnitzel ($15). The bistro offers up beef or pork goulash, pork medallions with mushrooms, and even a rib eye Angus steak for $18. And the baked goods are beautiful. 289 Ninth St. (U.S. 41), Naples, 435-3704.

Taste of the Beach Winners Earn New Customers
I was invited to be a judge at The Greater Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s 14th Annual Taste of the Beach last weekend. Several thousand people showed up to Salty Sam’s Marina to sample small portions of some 50 dishes from 20 restaurants, some of which were quite creative and tasty.

A few of the booths at the 14th Annual Taste of the Beach.

As a result, many attendees told me they now plan to visit several of the restaurants. The winners of the categories I judged…
Best Soup /Chowder: Dixie Fish Company’s seafood bisque Best Crab: (tie) The Fish House’s crab cakes/The Sandy Parrot’s tiki rolls
Best Shrimp: JoJo’s…at the Beach at Pink Shell Beach Resort’s margarita shrimp
Best Beef: Bayfront Bistro’s marinated beef satay
Best Pork: The Sandy Butler’s pork tenderloin
Best Pizza/Flatbread: Parrot Key’s beef flatbread
Best Chicken/Gator: Yucatan Beach Stand’s tiki chicken tortellini
Best Fish: Bayfront Bistro’s Asian seared grouper
Best Sweet: The Sandy Butler’s flourless chocolate cake with stewed berries.

Comings and Goings
—Naples’ Corks on 5th Steakhouse & Seafood Grille is the second restaurant on Fifth Avenue South to fall this summer, preceded by Trilogy. Recently purchased by the Gionet family, its prices were higher, and it drew in fewer customers than neighboring Bistro 821 and Pazzo. 
—Gabriello’s, an Italian restaurant in North Naples, will be closed during the summer for vacation. 
Alberto’s Trevi has closed in Bonita Springs.
Let’s broaden our dining choices together. Post your hints and experiences about great Southwest Florida restaurants below, or e-mail

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