Three-story wine room with more than 4,000 bottles of wine. since opening five years ago, Angelina’s Ristorante has become a premiere locale for European-style dining in Southwest Florida. Known for its amazing, three- story wine room, Angelina’s has elevated its entrées to new heights with the addition of Executive Chef Sarah Grueneberg. Although she may look baby-faced, Grueneberg is no novice when it comes to cooking, having been named Eater’s Chicago Chef of the Year for 2011. And if she looks familiar, it could be you’ve seen her on TV.
Grueneberg was runner-up on Bravo’s “Top Chef: Texas 2012.” Angelina’s owners Don and Angela Smith stole Grueneberg away from Spiaggia, Chicago’s only four-star Italian restaurant. With a culinary arts degree from the Art Institute of Houston, Gruenberg recently revamped the menu at Angelina’s, bringing complex flavors to classic Italian cuisine. Wild truffles are a fresh addition, along with a beautifully buttery mashed potato puree inspired by Grueneberg’s grandmother.
As always, the dishes are gorgeously plated, making it easy to feast with the eyes first. We were seated with a lovely view of Angelina’s herb garden, where the chef harvests fresh thyme, oregano, basil and sage. A more intimate spot to reserve for a special occasion would be a booth surrounding the glass-encased wine room. With plush walls and regal tapestries, these alcoves offer privacy and a bedazzling view of the spiral staircase encircled by 4,000 bottles of wine. The sommelier loves to help guests select the perfect vino – from $25 to $6,000.
The menu is inspired and ordered after the Italian way of dining, starting with antipasti (appetizer, salad, soup), followed by primi piatti (small course pastas) and then the main course. Cap it all off with dolce (sweetness), a choice of tantalizing miniature desserts.
Angelina’s Italian-style thin crust pizzas are a great way to start off the night. The Margherita features cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella bufala. Also try the Fiore di Zucca con Burrata, one of Grueneberg’s recent additions. The fresh taste incorporates zucchini blossoms, San Marzano tomatoes, creamy burrata cheese and baby zucchini.
The Caesar salad is a classic, and it’s done right at Angelina’s. Chef Grueneberg adds Tuscan kale to the romaine and uses crumbled croutons, offering crunch in every bite. The dressing is handmade with garlic and anchovies.
03. RAVIOLI di ZUCCA
This is one of Angelina’s house specialties, and even the talented Grueneberg was not allowed to mess with it! A favorite among regulars, the ravioli is handmade daily and filled with creamy butternut squash, citrus tomato butter, truffle and almond. Mushroom lovers also should try the Agnolotti di Vitello, filled with s
04. TAGLIATELLE con ARAGOSTA
This small pasta plate stars Maine lobster over handmade pasta, flavored with chili flakes, cherry tomatoes and arugula. Seafood enthusiasts also must try the Corzetti con Granchio, featuring hand-stamped pasta coins filled with king crab, basil pesto, pine nuts and baby zucchini. Our favorite!
05. CAPESANTE e PANCETTA di MAIALE
This fabulous dish offers perfectly tender, pan-seared scallops, along with slow-roasted pork belly, served over a creamy Yukon gold potato puree, all complemented by a Brussels sprout citrus salad. Seafood lovers also will appreciate the Cernia Mediterranea – brown butter seared black grouper decorated with a tasty blend of zucchini, cherry tomatoes, artichokes, Taggiasca olives, capers and cauliflower puree.
06. COSTALETTA di VITELLO
The porcini mushroom sauce and fresh Italian black truffles make this savory dish memorable. Not to mention the tender and succulent herb marinated veal chop! Served with black truffle parmesan risotto, this one just might have you licking the plate clean.