The food may come in newsprint-lined waffle baskets, but there’s nothing average about this barbecue joint.
There are real cocktails—take the Rock & Rye, with Templeton, sweet vermouth, cherry liquor and a squeeze of OJ—and a beer and wine list to rival that of any restaurant in nearby downtown Naples. (Among my favorites are the Funky Buddha Hefeweizen and the 2016 Mer Soleil Chardonnay.) The service is impeccable, and the surprises continue to reap sweet rewards all the way to the end of the meal (the ridiculously decadent candied bacon brownie sundae is absolutely one of the best desserts along the Gulfshore right now).
All of this is possible because of the man sizzling the beef, boar chops, wings and pulled pork: chef Greg Scarlatos.
Scarlatos first caught our attention running the kitchen of Angelina’s Ristorante in Bonita Springs, Lee County’s premier dining room. He then rose to prominence among food cognoscenti in Naples by opening Fuse Global Cuisine, an opus to how far he can push culinary boundaries. At the barbecue spot he launched last year next door to his flagship, he has returned to the basics. He’s not innovating for the sake of innovating. This is his humble expression of barbecue the way it’s supposed to be, with a chef-ly flourish or two (pepperoni mac and cheese, anyone?).
I could live on the glistening marbled brisket, specifically the BCT—a luscious sticky slab on brioche with cheddar dripping over a domed mess of fried onions, tomato and mayo. Same goes for the St. Louis ribs (served the way they should be, dry, with house-batched sauces on the table), the brown-sugared sweet mash and the mouth-tinglingly tart collards. But the best thing is that no matter if you visit for lunch or dinner, you’re guaranteed a taste of chef Scarlatos’ soul—and that’s something I’d line up for.
2500 Tamiami Trail N., Naples, 239-455-4585, fuseglobalcuisine.com/fusebbq