An Insatiable Appetite's Profile

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Alto Live Jazz Kitchen Hits the High Notes in Naples

Starting in a week or so, Alto Live Jazz Kitchen will have its live jazz up and running-a tremendous addition to Naples nightlife. Chef Charles Mereday crafted Mereday's-one of my top 5 spots to dine, and a year or so later, has come up with another star, headed by his early mentor and friend, Executive Chef/co-partner Nadir Sherwani. The food at Alto is totally different from that at Mereday's-well worth a visit to both to compare and contrast. I highly recommend Alto's bourbon chicken liver pate, fried oysters, chicken soup (it's far richer and full of flavor than any you've had!). For mains, must haves are the braised Berkshire pork shank with Moroccan spiced rice, crispy Atlantic salmon tempura, filet mignon and confit of duck. I'll go back for the desserts when the live jazz starts. The musicians will be Grammy award winning artists and talented local artists, separate and jamming together!

Choice between Meredays and Osteria Tulia-Naples?

McCabe has opened Avenue5...I have a review on Chowhound. It's probably the priciest spot on 5th Ave South.

Avenue 5 Open Now in Naples Florida

Phil McCabe closed his eponymous Irish Pub, and opened Avenue5 last night, February 6, 2014. Online, its menu doesn't list prices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. No surprise. The dinner prices are perhaps the highest on Naples' 5th Ave South! Someone's gotta pay for a million dollar new restaurant! The decor is attractive, cool, white, light and upscale. Servers are attentive.
Our dishes were a mix of hit or miss, with the only constant being that nearly all items were too highly salted, and I love salt on my food...to a point. This salt concentration was definitely over the line.
Avenue5 seeks its identity as a steakhouse, first and foremost. It has a ways to go, with Capital Grille, Preston's, and a host of others as established competition and familiar destinations to locals. Kudos to Mr McCabe for shooting for the stars with a higher end spot, and not opening a copy cat of other 5th Ave spots.

Appetizers are $14-15 generally. Our pork belly app was undercooked, yet a generous portion. The beans surrouding it didn't add to the dish. I loved the crispy fried oysters Rockefeller with fennel jam and sabayon. The Jonah crab fritters had a good crab: filler ratio, and a delicous corn salsa. The antipasto was ok. The beef carpaccio was a portion sized for a hummingbird, however the quality of the morsels was superb. The duck confit crepes were rich and tasty, the hoisin sauce oversalted, and the tempura fried veggie didn't really go with it. Fusion or con-fusion, I'll go with the latter.

Wines were delicous and our sommelier super helpful. Too bad he won't be here but a few months. Figure $14 for a decent glass...They don't have a menu yet for by the glass...they need to keep this gentleman to set them up as a wine destination, as well as a steakhouse.

My $42 rack of lamb was one of the best I've ever had. Wow! The 1 lb (precooked) $56 bone-in tenderloin/filet was ordered medium, and came out bloody rare near the bone, and medium at the periphery. The manager explained that the bone acts as an insulator, not a conductor of heat. Well, the real answer is...it depends on the bone's size, location, if it's firm cortical or airy cancellous bone, and if it's been cut or not, to alter its heat conductivity. ( See http://www.genuineideas.com/ArticlesI... ).Staff offered to take it back and give it a few more minutes. Fair enough, however that would have delayed the other guests from starting on thier dishes. Not good. The salmon was super tender but oversalted. Being a steakhouse, it gives no real sides with the expensive dish. Most sides are $9. Our mushrooms were delicous, and too salty. the lady at the next table had scallops that were too salty, and she said she likes salt...
It's clear the chefs know their stuff. Oversalting can be easily addressed. Please don't make customers stroke-out from salt-induced hypertension!
Desserts were a letdown. Fail. The apple tartin was practically freezer cold, and had too much sugar/caramel on top. We asked to have it warmed, and it was an improvement. The Key lime tart was said to have limoncello mixed in...we could not detect any such taste. I've had better desserts from grocery stores. Costco has better desserts. Really guys, if you want to have high end chefs and steaks, match it with a pastry chef, or get Mikkelsens or another baker to do it right for you.
It'll take some time for any new restaurant to iron out the bugs. With prices generally higher than Pazzo's and other spots on 5th, it'll take a year to see how customers will respond to the prices. Hob Nob across the street has found a gerat balance of price and quality. I'd go back to Avenue5 for only the lamb in a heart beat, but not for anything else. The oversalting was a turn off. There's too much great competiton on 5th, 3rd Avenue, Mercato and many fine independents, at lesser prices.
Your dining impression?

The Cider Press Cafe Opens in Naples, Florida

Hi Nosh,

Good to be back! It wa a super busy year for me. I have more time to write. And eat. And try to lose that weight that coincidentally comes with eating!

The Cider Press Cafe Opens in Naples, Florida

Finally a delicious place that has all vegan/vegetarian offerings. The food is "gourmet" level, and prices are reasonable.
It just opened last week, and already it's slammed. Give them a week or so to hire more help. While the menu will change, must haves for now are the corn chowder and the vanilla "ice cream".
One produce grower is 7 miles away-the food is harvested in the morning, and on your plate for lunch. Who else can top that for farm-to-plate freshness? The cuisine is also free of gluten, dairy, MSG, peanuts, trans fat, sugar and tofu. Huh? Tofu-free at a vegetarian spot? Yep, some are sensitive to soy beans! If you have a food allergy that isn’t covered by this, just put in your request, and your wishes should be met. Let me know your thoughts.
They are at Piper’s Crossing Shopping Center at 1201 Piper Blvd., #26, (East end of the shopping strip that's on the North side of Immokalee, across from Sam’s), 631-2500, ciderpresscafe.com

Road food between Everglades City and Key West besides Alabama Jack's?

Joanie's Blue Crab Cafe is on US 41, a few miles East of Everglades City. It's afunky setting with decent road food. (Yes, I know this is long after AmyMad's drive!)

Choice between Meredays and Osteria Tulia-Naples?

Choose Escargot 41 over Bleu Provence for delicious French cuisine in a romantic setting. Both spots are reasonably priced. Cafe Lurcat is ok. Try Bha! Bha!, Veranda E, and Bites ar the Ritz. Charlie Chiang's is my spot for Asian, with Bonita's Omei not far behind. I'd try to dine at both Mereday's and Tulia.

Mereday's is superb food in a casually elegant setting, and Tulia is stick to your ribs good Italian from region near Brindisi, Italy. "Apples and oranges" to try and compare the two.

Marco island

BCjr, thank you for the heads up on Marco. With the plethora of spots in Naples, I don't get down to Marco Island. Alberto's on 5th has Marco's best chef/owner- Alberto- who headed Sal y Pepe's for years.
What's the word on Marek's or DaVinci's?

SW Florida (Lee County/Collier County) 2013 "season" news

Blue Windows Bistro is South of Gladiolus, on 41 in Fort Myers and is my favorite French spot in Lee County. I'm not sure of the place you mention by Bell Towers...

Sasse's is said to be better than ever...I'll try it out in the next fw months.

SW Florida (Lee County/Collier County) 2013 "season" news

Thank you for the heads up on Angelina's change of ownership. Agreed, these are great spots.

Try "The Local" in Naples at Bed Bath and Beyond shopping Center on Pine Ridge-even the vegetarian offerings can please this carnivore's palate.

Flava has Old European cuisine with a modern twist, and tops in service.

Veranda E is in a tropical romantic setting, just off 3rd Street and 5th Ave South in the lovely Hotel Escalante.

SW Florida (Lee County/Collier County) 2013 "season" news

Mereday's Fine Dining rocketed to the top of my list as well for superb service, casually elegant setting and delicious food. This is comparable to a Michelin one star rated restaurant. (For those not in the know, that's an honor that few chefs/restaurants achieve, and is well worth a "detour" to dine there) It's a bonus that it's on the water overlooking the marina's boats.
Only minor drawback of sorts is that it' located off the beaten path for tourists, with parking a little challenging in the Season.

I've savored the 5 course meal, drinks and echo LittleMsFoodie's "exceptional" rating. Start with chef's Garden heirloom tomatoes and cheese, seared foie gras with grilled peach and go to super fresh grouper or salmon- wonderfully sauced, tender duck breast, to luscious lamb chop with yogurt mint sauce, it's hard to pick a favorite.

My favorite desserts include the chocolate banana and other strudels, cheese plate and "home made" sorbets, served with Port, Chef Mereday and Chef Pittman craft some of the finest dishes in the US of A.

Good Places Ft. Myers to Naples/Bonita We Might Not Know?

Cru has been through various owners and chefs in the past 9 years. Only the location is the same...
Everything else has changed, for the better compared to your mom's experience. . New owner/chef, menu, etc.
I was there last week for its "yearly check up!"

Good Places Ft. Myers to Naples/Bonita We Might Not Know?

Hi Nosh, LilMsFoodie, Tute, BlueHerons and all!

I've been super busy since last May with lots of things..still eating, still freelancing, but less time to write.

I have two fairly new Naples treats I highly recommend...
Maria D'annas is across from the NCH Hospital at 300 TamiamiTrail North-it's a cozy European setting with excellent food. Chef Ryan Flood rocks-you can find him Saturday am at the Farmers Market gathering up truly fresh supplies! BTW, his Walleye from Michigan and the forest mushroom soup are superb!

Veranda E is just West of Bice across 3rd and just off 5th Avenue South in the Escalante Hotel...Chef Michael Kang's artful creations have a French and Asian influence-it's great food served in a romantic secluded poolside ambiance. Scallops, short ribs, calamari, lemon-ginger ice cream...all tops!

In Fort Myers, Cru, with Chefs Harold Balink, Josh Zeman and Bob Boyd, offers beautifully prepared food. I love the sea bass, scallops, beet salad and Tuna crudo with figs. Harold took over Cru perhaps 3 years ago, and it's been better than ever in the 9 years existence.

Fort Myers Great new restaurant on McGregor

I ate at Cristofs in March, and several others ate there in April. Same experiences, unfortunately.

It's a lovely building, with parking too far away, disorganized service, hit or miss entrees, and a total disconnect between the kitchen and servers on pacing a meal. If you order an appetizer and an entree, be prepared for everything to arrive at once, and then have the emptied plates sit too long in front of you, hoping your server will take pity on you and finally come pick them up. Other tables complained that when 5 people ordered entrees, three came quickly , and the other two person's entrees came waaay too long after, with no apology from the staff. I blogged this and other things on my blog, this is a summary and more up to date.

I want the place to succeed-it'll only happen if the owner/chef spends more time on site, and really, really makes some changes. It started out good, and locals tell me service and quality have consistently and steadily gone downhill. I speak on a monthly basis with all sorts of people in Fort Myers who have dined there, not liked the experience, and I've summed up the consensus on Christof's. Such a shame, to have put so much effort into fixing up an old house into a charming, (and noisy!) location, yet, dropped the ball on service and food quality.

new restaurants in Naples

Coupons for L'Etoile can give them a sudden cash flow they seem to lack.
People that buy such coupons had best use them within a week or so, just to avoid being stuck when a place financially implodes, and suddenly closes.

Naples Tomato had quite a few loss leaders, like L'Etoile now does. I am stuck with a now-useless Naples Tomato card.. Ugh. Buyer Beware.

Naples Tomato Suddenly Closes.

Groupon is a mixed blessing.

For a $30 payment for a $60 meal, Groupon keeps $15, and the restaurant gets $15, too. Yes, there's no profit if people wisely keep their purchase to just $60. Profit is made only on pushing drinks and appetizers and desserts to get the food and beverage in excess of the $60.

Restauranteurs who are not well established tell me they choose to take the hit, as far more people see and actually read the Groupon advertisement than buy it. So, it's still a cheaper cost for very targeted PR than using the newspaper. Most restauranteurs choose not to do Groupon because it cheapens the brand, and most importantly, those who use Groupons do not come back later to pay full price, they just go to other discounted places. In L'Etoile's case, 560 diners will require a lot of upselling of additional food to make it a break even. Their servers have been going to other restaurants...not a good sign.

Some crafty vendors are said to create special items and pricing just for Groupon discounts, where they jack up the price 2x to 3x, so the hit isn't so bad. Buyer beware!

Naples Tomato Suddenly Closes.

Per today's Naples Daily News and NBC2, Naples Tomato, operated over the past 8 years by Pete Serfass and Jack and Nadine Serfass, closed without warning after service on Saturday night.

The Serfass's decision left numerous employees in the lurch without expected paychecks today. Many live paycheck to paycheck. As the season is over and restaurants typically go to skeleton crews during the summer, it will be difficult for them to find jobs until November.
Numerous coupon owners and suppliers are also left high and dry, while the assets will be "liquidated" over time. Guess who's at the end of the line...and won't get a thing.
See articles at:
http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2012/m...

and at NBC-2 and others.

Barbatella Newish Naples restaurant: Third Street South

I've been to Barbatella several times and enjoyed the real delicious flavors of Italy, on their generous portions of meats, fish, pasta and pizza. I've been to Italy a few times, and this is the real thing-stick to your ribs good cooking! It's not New York Italian style. It doesn't have or need foams, vertical stacking, or other trendy things. I like that the pizza is served on an openholed metal tray, so it doesn't get soggy. The bar area and outside dining are my favorite spots. And yes, the botoxed and generously siliconed cougars haven't set up a lair there yet...give them time!

I've been to "big sister's" Sea Salt a dozen times since it opened, and had delicous food and good to excellent service. Some places have off days-need to let management know-teh owners are usually on site, too.

I like Komoon as a neighborhood restaurant. It's good to get authentic Peruvian, Thai and Japanese in one spot. Nice setting and friendly service, too.

Fort Myers - El Acajutla is a local gem that will make you a regular

I've only heard great things about this spot!
When I'm in Ft Myers, I am often in a rush , so look forward to being there and having time for a beer, pupusas and shrimp!

new restaurants in Naples

Alberto's is my favorite of the three. It's authentic Italy-Italian, not Italian-American Italian, as many places in the US are. I like both styles, and they are different. I was in heaven with the pastas for $15-18. Yes, I've been to Italy recently and know top Italian-this is the real thing. Now, it's not a fancy looking cuisine, just delicious, and still attractively plated. The restaurant is upscale on decor, and service was very good.

I enjoyed Aqua, and like the strolling musicians. Prices are at the higher end for Naples-this is 5th Ave. South, so it's not a surprise. I would happily go back for the delicious food and ambiance.

L' Etoile is circling the drain and may close. They didn't have a good season and may not make it in the off season. The owners plan from the start was to take off and go back to North Carolina in Naples' off season (for N.C.'s profitable high season), so that works for them.
Etoile;s food had been mixed, some good some lousy. Service is not always up to par, according to all who've been there. I won't go till I hear an improvement. Too many good places instead, to spend my money.

Naples steakhouses

Andre's and Cloydes are just not at the top of most steak lovers lists here.

I favor Capital Grille for taste, elegant setting and service. Their salmon , too, is tops.
I've always had an enjoyable time at Flemings, and their new menu with lighter dishes is a hit. also in the bar, thier wine and appetizer specials are great.
I've enjoyed Trulucks food and fish-I just don't get to 5th Ave much anymore..
Prestons has good steaks, wierd convoluted dining room, and high prices.
Andre's has high prices,good steaks, but it's atmosphere and service have never been a place my guest say "lets go back".

trader joes in SWFL

I was there opening day-total insanity with parking and jam packed inside and in parking lot.

Went back yesterday and still jam packed! That will lessen in side the store in time, but outside there will always be insufficient parking space. Encore Bank and other got screwed on this deal!

The 2 buck chuck wine is ok for $2.99, spend a little more and get a lot more wine quality for your $$.
Produce is underwhelming.
Tops are lower priced wines, inexpensive tasty cheeses, varied organic items, great frozen specialty TJ's items, and some wasabi seaweed for $.99 that I love. Just for starters.
It won't hurt whole foods or Publix-it's in its own niche.
Worth a visit...in a couple weeks to let the buzz settle down.

Naples-Alberto's On Fifth

I 'll give it a few weeks to get its stride going. Great chef from Marco Island.

O'Mei Chinese Naples

I agree with RevrendAndy on Omei!

Great family run spot that is usually far from the maddening (season) crowd. The owners are pleasant.

Asian friends frequent Omei's as well as Charlie Chiang's for delicious Asian food. Both have great crispy duck.

Chiang's is more popular, for its riverfront dining with eagles fishing, stunning interior decor, and traditonal and creative Asian foods. Mr and Mrs. Chiang are often on premises, very friendly, and very supportive of local charities. The chefs come straight from China, and customers have too often asked them to not put any authentic spicing in foods...keep it on the bland side, that's Naples for some. I ask to have it "as it's really made" when they are not busy, and it's bursting with taste. Your taste buds may vary.

I don't care as much for P F Chang's which is a quite predictable chain that's as popular as Cheese Cake Factory.

Empire China and some others are local Naples spots that have thier followings.

For home cooking with Asian fresh and canned items, Asia Pok Market on Pine Ridge, and 88 Asian Depot on East Trail are good spots.

Great BBQ in Naples?

Simply Southern BBQ is authentically delicious.

I've tried them all and blogged about them-this is the one BBQ lovers keep coming back to. Family run, no big advertising budget, you get the real deal here.

http://www.simplysouthernbbqfl.com/

Marco Island, FL - Christmas

LMF,

Thank you for the heads up!

Talking about southern Collier County...
I like Camilla's at Everglades City, good food great live music, and right on the water.

changes in Fort Misery...er Fort Myers

LMF,

Collier's loss is your gain. Your sandwich sounds heavenly!!! I was recently in Bordeaux and the food at an "average" French spot in France is usually the equal to many very good or even top French places in the USA for dinner and baked goods. Your sandwich sounds like what would be a natural sandwich combo in France!

For those who don't know, Andre is the top baker in SW Florida. Fortunately, he's taught bakers at French Bread Oven and other spots the tricks of the trade. He's a gentleman!

I ate at Lush the other day-enjoyable food and a very good malbec- and it's always fun to see Shannon shine, larger than life. His following is faithful, -it's good to see restaurants flourishing in this economy. From tapas style apps with white beans to varied imported olives, juicy hamburgers with truffled fries, to filet mignon topped with foie gras-he's got the bases covered with a well honed menu and solid wines- that should expand in season. The unique interlocking white plates and the food plating is inviting. The building is a good setting for live music, inside or outside-I don't know if he'll have such regularly scheduled during the season.

Naples moderately price

Rosedale's pizza is absolutely delicious! Light, thin and very crisp with fresh ingredients, it's perhaps the best pizza I've had in SW Florida, and that says a lot! I stopped by for lunch, and was happily surprised at the bold fresh taste and top quality.

It's Neapolitan style, bursting with flavor, baked in a wood burning oven. Your pie is made from scratch as you wait-watch the dough twirled till thin, then hot-oven baked till crisp.

They also have antipasti, soups, salads, oven baked sandwiches, classic pastas and deserts-it's a real restaurant, and doesn't serve only great pizzas. I'll write more when I've tried those, too.
(And yes, I'll have a mention on my blogs, too.) How people can settle for soggy mediocre chain-store pizza is truly beyond me.

Chowhounds, It's getting to be time to organize chowdowns in SW Florida, especially before season starts. Rosedale's would be a perfect spot-great food, friendly atmosphere, and weallet-froendy prices.

Falafel Grill...New ethnic restaurant in Naples!

Hi Feibi,

Thank you for the heads up. Your food is delicious, and priced right for families!

We were wondering when Porto Cafe was going to open-now we know.

For readers, it's in the former spot of Sweet Mamas, across from NCH.

BTW, many hospital workers I know are on "odd" shifts compared to most 8-5 workers. It's 3-11pm, 11-7am, and 7-3pm, Others are on 12 hour shifts.
Point is, most have no time to go out for lunch, so those restaurants that can deliver are set. Same for dinner, workers make pick up take out to go home to their families, but not have time to eat dinner alone at the restaurant.

FYI - Sweet Mama's was forced out by the landlord, and moved to Mr. Mom's on the East Trail, serving great breakfasts and lunches, and perhaps dinners again in season.

Simply Southern BBQ Grand Opening in Naples Florida

bagofwater,

(What a great name!!)

Come on down!

BTW, I learned much practical hands on about BBQ- rubs, fire sources, smoker designs, meat placement, etc- from Fort Myers' Emmett Todd's Backyard BBQ School-great tips from one who's studied the winners at BBQ competitions, and shares what he's found with ordinary mortals. Plus, the Q he sells around Ft Myers sells out in an hour or two-delicious.

You also have to try Inca's Kitchen when you're down in Naples, too-a Chowhound's delight! It's Peruvian food, not "Q" that's full of flavor.