A Taste of Gulfshore Life's Inaugural Best New Restaurants Event

Attendees sampled some of the hottest plates in town—all with just one ticket.

BY January 18, 2016


Riddle me this: What do you get when you combine 10 of Southwest Florida's most talented chefs for a night of eating and drinking?  

Chef Vincenzo Betulia served Bar Tulia's popular tortelloni stuffed with tender short ribs.

In a business where I put myself and, more pointedly, my opinions out there for people to digest, I fess up it's quixotic I have an aversion to self-promotion. That said, I would swear without any hesitation that our magazine's inaugural Best New Restaurants event—held last night for the first time to coincide with my annual cover story rounding up the year's 10 best new additions to the Southwest Florida dining scene—was a match made in foodie heaven.

I have a hunch people will be talking about it for a long time coming. How could they not when you take top chefs from the Naples and Fort Myers areas and task them with whipping up a series of creative canapes in a progressive cocktail party format?

Chef David Lani of 7th Avenue Social whipped up shrimp and grits, a crostini with candied bacon and a bourbon-laced mousse.

It was one hit after another, most restaurants making three different bites, from a plump diver scallop floating on an ingenious pool of pureed popcorn (thank you, TAG: The American Gastropub) and grilled slices of the decadently marbled Darling Downs wagyu strip (courtesy of The Continental) to a spiked mousse with the equivalent of a full shot of bourbon (7th Avenue Social) and a balsamic-accented blueberry tart the crowd's sweet tooths agreed was a high note (Harold's).

Taking over four of the newest London Bay Homes in Mediterra, guests were ferried between the models by iconic orange Naples trolleys. Mercedez-Benz of Naples, Artistic Science and Pzazz Productions heightened the scene with some extra eye candy, lighting and decorative flourishes, and Republic National got the party going with ample booze at each stop. 

But I realized the secret ingredient for the event's success when a woman sitting across from me on the last trolley of the night was raving about the cheese scones from Cork Soakers and wishing she lived closer to the Cape Coral restaurant.

There is so much good food out there and so little time, it was a luxury to get a taste of the newest, most exciting places in Southwest Florida all in one shot.  

For my full report on the area's best new restaurants, click here. See more behind-the-scenes photos from the party here.

TAG: The American Gastropub elevated popcorn, pureeing it and pairing it with a seared diver scallop and apricot compote.



Related Images: