Hot Dish

Côte D’Azur Changes Hands but Remains the Same

The North Naples French restaurant has new owners who promise to stay faithful to its renowned reputation.

BY June 28, 2017


Claudio Scaduto, owner of the revered French bistro Côte D’Azur—known as much for its quaint Riviera look as its sophisticated cuisine honored by Zagat—has handed over the keys to his longtime endeavor. The new keepers are James Waller and his wife, Darlene, who relocated to Southwest Florida from Northern California.

James Waller, chef and now co-owner of Côte D’Azur

It’s a family story. One is hanging up his chef’s whites to retire to France to spend more time with his brood. Another has picked up where he left off in June, moving here so he can be closer to his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. The Scadutos helped the Wallers for two weeks before taking off, going over all of the recipes that made the bistro so beloved—and the Wallers intend to keep the restaurant and its mission intact.

Many Neapolitans, including former Naples Winter Wine Festival co-chair Tom Moran and socialite Shelia Smith Davis, wished the Scadutos well on Facebook, where the news was announced with a touching video farewell.

“Everything that they prepare here is very well-received, and it would be really foolish for me to come in and put my signature on everything,” James says. “I don’t really plan on changing the menu. If I do anything, it’s going to be to add an item here or there. I do plan on reintroducing a lot of specials that Claudio ran, especially through the season. He went over all the specialty items with me, and I’ve tried them all.”

Dramatic presentations are a hallmark of the bistro.

Waller was already a big proponent of the Mediterranean style of cooking the Scadutos were known for—the olive oil, herbs and garlic—as well as sustainability (he was a founding member of the pioneering Seafood Watch Program run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium). “Down the road—and this is all based on what I can discover in this area—I’d like to highlight local ingredients. I feel strongly about this. People want to know where their food is coming from,” Waller says.

Waller helmed the kitchen at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa for 20 years, arriving there in 1997 and transforming it into a dining destination for locals and guests alike, earning a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and an AAA Four-Diamond Restaurant Award. (Oprah dropped in once for a visit, and Waller hosted celebrity chefs in his kitchen year in and year out for a Monterey Bay Aquarium fundraiser, cooking alongside big names like Thomas Keller, Alice Waters and Jacques Pépin.) Before that, he spent a block of time behind the stove at the Hotel del Coronado, serving several presidents over the years, including George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

There are independent restaurants in Naples—and then there are those that make up the local canon. This intimate dining room with cheery yellow awnings touts some of the finest French cuisine around. Waller vows to keep it that way. With his deft touch and personal flair as the months go on, he’ll build on the Scadutos legacy and plant roots of his own.


To plan a visit:

Côte D’Azur

11224 Tamiami Trail, Naples

(239) 597-8867



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