Delicious Finds

Our Team Picks their Favorite New Restaurants for 2024

From Naples to Fort Myers, these four restaurants offer top-notch dining experience, with innovative food and drink menus to boot.

BY May 1, 2024
Le Colonial Best New Restaurants
Le Colonial (Photo Courtesy The Buzz Agency/Eric Laignel)

Whether fresh Gulf seafood on a waterfront patio, tender meatballs or a pour of rare Scotch, we’re always on the hunt for a delicious, can’t-stop-thinking-about-it meal. These are those spots.


The New Fifth Ave Hotspot

Well-loved Chicago restaurant Le Colonial followed snowbirds south, opening its doors on Fifth Avenue South in December. The retro French-Vietnamese-inspired design—lush palms, louvered shutters and mahogany millwork—feels tailor-made for balmy Naples nights. The menu includes the restaurant’s familiar favorites spicy lemongrass chicken stir-fry and shaking filet of beef, with a greater emphasis on seafood as a nod to the coastal setting. Nab a seat at the bar suggests Gulfshore Life marketing consultant Holly Baldwin, where Le Colonial recently debuted a new cocktail program curated by Danilo Dacha Božović, who co-founded the Miami outpost of cultish New York City speakeasy Employees Only.


The Whiskey Den

Connoisseurs who know their Pappy from their Macallan can seriously geek out over two dozen pages of single-malt Scotch, rye and bourbon at the new Naples Design District restaurant Warren. But even whiskey neophytes will be impressed, says publisher Carin Keane. “From the minute you walk in, you feel the energy,” she promises. “The Old World-meets-Wall Street design makes you feel like you’re in a big city.” The kitchen turns out haute bar snacks, like Korean fried cauliflower and a bourbon-glazed burger, and those looking to splurge can pony up $10,000 to join the private club, which includes access to a posh private room, exclusive single-barrel offerings and tasting events.


The Fresh Take on Seafood

Restaurateur and hotelier Peter Tierney’s latest seafood-forward foray (you already may have sidled up to the raw bar at his The Claw Bar) is a true celebration of our waterways. On an inlet off the Gordon River, The waterfront patio at The Syren Oyster & Cocktail Bar is our digital media marketing manager Brittney Kleis’ favorite new spot for seafood standards like platters of oysters, lobster dishes and fresh catches from the Gulf. (Brittney knows what she’s talking about—the Florida native is married to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission guy.) In place of popular grouper and bass, the restaurant champions lesser-known local species in dishes like triggerfish schnitzel with lemon-caper butter and simply grilled sheepshead or yellowtail.


The Family-Run Red Sauce Joint

It’s not only brand-new spots that have us buzzing; Gulfshore Life senior editor Emma Witmer is partial to the tried-and-true Bruno’s of Brooklyn and its milestone move. When Emma relocated to town, her brother took her to the Downtown Fort Myers restaurant. “He wanted me to see one of the places that makes this region truly special, and as much as I hate to admit it, my brother was right,” she says. Opened in 2014 as an homage to red sauce cuisine from the owners’ New York hometown and family roots in Sicily, the restaurant excels at multigenerational family recipes (the tender meatballs and rich lasagna are musts), backed by house-made mozzarella and sausages, imported pantry staples and local produce whenever possible. This summer, Bruno’s moves to a century-old building on First Street, with a grand opening and ribbon-cutting to follow on their 10th anniversary, September 18th. The owners have spent the last year and a half refurbishing the space, preserving the original fireplace and brick masonry, converting the bank vault into a wine and fine Cognac cellar, and adding a dessert lounge on the second floor. 

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