Our May issue out now delivers the annual slew of superlatives in the Best of the Gulfshore feature, and yours truly corralled the food and drink shout-outs. To spice things up, I added a diagram on the best parts of a pig—and how those cuts are dished out by local restaurants.
Alpine, a quiet and quaint Eastern European bistro in North Naples’ Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt (itself honored for reinvigorating the roster of stores and eateries), offers not one but three different types of schnitzel for lunch and dinner. All start with a pounded loin from the hog’s back—see the mag for a diagram—and a thick decadent layer of breadcrumbs (the owners, by the way, don’t settle for anything less than grinding and sifting their own).
On a recent visit, I asked our waiter which version was the most authentic. I was told, “Well, I know when our chef is craving a taste of home, she eats the Slovak Schnitzel with cucumber salad.”
I could taste why, and my snapshot above doesn’t do it justice. The sweet-sour quick pickling of the thinly sliced cucumbers was a refreshing foil for the juicy meat and crunchy breading. I broke from Slovak tradition by swapping mashed potatoes for spaetzle (sorry, the tiny dumplings were calling my name!), but I was reassured it’s all authentic: The Jäger Schnitzel, with a mushroom-cream sauce, is popular in Germany, and other areas nearby serve the regional specialty with cabbage or an egg atop, like the Alpine Schnitzel.
I called and checked in with Alex, husband of Chef Eva (“my wife owns me and the business,” he says), and they’ve got some exciting developments, the biggest being plans to brew kombucha, the fizzy fermented tea taking the gourmet world by storm. It will join the restaurant’s extensive coffee menu, and Alpine will be one of the only places carrying it in Southwest Florida and possibly the only making it fresh—which, knowing how Alex and Eva prefer to roll, makes perfect sense.