Food + Dining Main

Dinner Spreads of Your Dreams

Local chefs and stylists show you how to create exotic dinner party spreads—unless you just want to show up at their restaurants instead.

BY September 28, 2016


Fit for a Sultan

Now, as when Chef Michael Mir of Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro touched down in Naples in the ’90s, we are transfixed by his subtle updates to the classic cuisine of his ancestral land. He has proven to be a masterful interpreter—and innovator—of the recipes he grew up with (coincidentally, one of his mother’s names is “Sultan”). From a version of the eggplant-lentil spread haleem bademjune that will sell you from first bite to his ginger-apricot shrimp, it’s impossible to leave his restaurant without an appreciation of his wizardry. PJ Fuerstman Meyer, an event designer, set the mood with Mir’s own authentic textiles and vintage silver platters with pops of glam from crystal votives, echoing a theme that reverberates throughout Bha! Bha!

Pictured: Lamb meatballs with pomegranate reduction; Ginger-apricot shrimp; Plum lamb with butternut squash; Mixed grill skewers; Barberry rice pilaf; Pistachio baklava

For recipes from Bha! Bha!, click here. And, to go behind the scenes of this photo shoot, click here.


Old World Meets New

Long before fusion was fashionable, Peru was ahead of the curve, a product of its diverse culinary roots: Incan corn, crudo from Italian immigrants and the woks of Chinese settlers. Chef Rafael Rottiers of Inca’s Kitchen, in Naples, blazed a trail opening one of the area’s first critically acclaimed restaurants dishing up his country’s unique staples. He has kept a loyal following because of his deft touch and willingness to experiment—his menu has more than 10 ceviches alone. Bright, richly patterned linens from Rufino Hernandez’s Garden District and Andean decorative arts interspersed with vibrant flowers enhance the color on the plates. Leaves, hand-folded by Hernandez, are equally striking (and clever) as napkin holders.

Pictured: Mix Inca ceviche with shrimp, calamari, octopus and snapper; Quinoa salad with lentils, lima beans, red pepper and tomato; Arroz con pato: duck over cilantro rice with salsa criolla; Grilled snapper with shellfish and aji (yellow) pepper sauce; Sauce trio: aji with red onion; rocoto (red) pepper with mango; chimichurri

For more recipes from Inca's Kitchen, click here.


Succulence Under A Tuscan Sun

In Italy, the antipasto kicking off a meal deserves a grand table—especially when Chef Jason Goddard along with Barbatella’s owner, Fabrizio Aielli, weave together regional specialties and improve upon them. Parma prosciutto, a cured meat so delicate it is known to dissolve in your mouth, stands by itself enveloping crispy breadsticks and gets a modern flair with liquefied pistachio and feta crumbles. No matter if it’s the first course, second course or third, olive oil plays a big role, whether it’s to roast tomatoes, prepare linguini with clams or bake a whole fish—which is why Steven Bowles’ idea for a living centerpiece of olive branches punctuated by lemons, halved and whole, works so well for a rustic yet elegant table.

Pictured: Stuffed olives with salami and asiago; Artichokes with bagna càuda; Oven-roasted tomatoes; Parma prosciutto: wrapped around grissini; with feta, roasted pears and pistachio “drops”; atop pizzette with arugula; Ricotta, tomatoes, fried pancetta and bread “leaves”; Truffle-parmesan fingerlings; Linguini with garlic, white wine and Pine Island clams; Saffron cavatelli with lobster and peas; Baked branzino with lemon and Calabrian chilies

For recipes from Barbatella, click here.

Get the inside scoop on Southwest Florida dining in our Food Lovers Only feature.



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