Food + Dining Main

Dining Review: Go Fish

From its waterfront setting in Naples, Fish Restaurant serves up fresh, flavorful seafood dishes at various price points.

BY August 9, 2013

Exactly what should you expect from a fish restaurant? Freshness? Absolutely. Fabulous flavor? Of course. Affordability? Well, we can dream, right? Good, fresh seafood—especially in a waterfront setting—generally comes at a cost.

But with a menu full of dining experiences and price points, Fish Restaurant, the second bayfront Venetian Village culinary establishment of restaurateur Sal Sinzieri (who also owns MiraMare), tips the scales for both the budget conscious and those looking to splurge.

I know this because, in a moment of serendipity, we were lured to Fish’s lively, inviting outside bar while shopping on a hot afternoon a week before a previously made dinner reservation. Perched on the woven blue-and-white bar stools, we looked into the light open-air restaurant with its intriguing glassed-in fish-cutting room, took in the bright, umbrella-topped outdoor tables along the water, and basked in the breeze that rolled in along the walkway. It was happy hour, the bartender was congenial, and we were hooked.

House wines, well drinks and domestic beers are half price on the happy hour menu (available 3-6 p.m. daily), but we opted for a Key West mojito and strawberry lemondrop from the $10 cocktails menu—both delish. But it was our super affordable bar bites that were absolutely amazing. The Blue Point oysters on the half shell (five for $8) were huge, plump and delicious. The lightly battered fried Ipswich clams ($5) were delicate and succulent. And the incredibly decadent lobster mac and cheese ($6) offered up al dente pasta in a rich fontina and white cheddar sauce with generous pieces of sweet Maine lobster.

Fast-forward to the following Saturday night. After perusing the menu at a window table with Fish’s fabulous water view, I opted for an entrée that was at the opposite end of the price spectrum, and one that I have enjoyed many times elsewhere—whole branzino ($39). Alder-wood grilled, then sautéed and expertly deboned at the table by our waiter, Sebastian, it was as velvety and delectable as I have ever eaten. And my glass of Sauvignon Blanc, Yealands, Malborough, N.Z., 2011 ($10) was a nice, crisp accompaniment.

Dine on Venetian Bay on the patio at Fish.

The main event was precededby two seafood appetizers that are also normally favorites of ours. The bigeye tuna tartare ($18), consisting of a meager amount of raw tuna and avocado chunks in a larger nest of fine julienne carrots and ginger- lime dressing, was disappointing and did not justify the price. The oysters Rockefeller ($20)—a simple rendition of baked Blue Point oysters with Manchego cheese, spinach and a tiny artichoke garnish—was not as rich and creamy as traditional recipes, but still good. And the oysters, again, were perfect.
Occasionally, even in a seafood restaurant, a dining companion may want to steer clear of anything with scales, fins or shells, so it is nice to know that Fish offers some turf alternatives. To that end, my husband chose one of his non-seafood favorites: Long Island duck breast ($29)—seared medium-rare, as requested, in a black currant glaze and accompanied by sweet potato bread pudding topped with spinach. In contrast to my simply prepared fish entrée, the duck was swimming in a soupy sauce that eclipsed some of its nice flavor. A reduction would have enhanced it.

At $6 from the happy hour bar menu, the lobster mac and cheese is a steal.

As a finale, our desserts were delightful—chocolate fondant ($10), a moist chocolate cake layered with rich chocolate cream and topped with sinful chocolate ganache; and tart, creamy Key lime mousse ($10) served in a glass and topped with thick, sweet meringue over graham cracker crumbs.

The formula at Fish Restaurant is simple: Serve fresh, flavorful seafood. Offer al fresco and indoor dining options. And showcase it all in one of Naples’ most appealing new waterfront venues.

Fish Restaurant

4360 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., Naples; (239) 263-3474, Open daily for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for dinner Sunday through Thursday 4-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4-11 p.m. Wheelchair accessible. Reservations recommended.

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