The food scene in Southwest Florida got more diverse—and delicious—over the last year! During our dining adventures of 2022, we uncovered some truly outstanding dishes…and we’re calling out Our Favorites!
STANDOUT SEAFOOD STARTER: Oysters Chopafella
Where to find? Chops City Grill, 8200 Health Center Blvd., Bonita Springs
Why try? Three large oysters are stuffed with a king crab mixture of roasted bacon, spinach and parmesan cheese accented with miso (slight maple flavor) and yuzu (citrus) then baked until bubbly, plated with fresh pea tendrils, rock salt and a one-ounce king crab leg. Divine!
What else? The restaurant underwent a massive, million-dollar renovation in 2021. Upgrades include beautiful hardwood paneling, acoustic ceiling tiles and plush velvet booths. Stop in to enjoy some of the best steaks around—along with creative appetizers, craft cocktails, Asian cuisine and selection of more than 300 wines!
PIZZA PERFECTION: Aldo’s Margherita Pizza
Where to find? Aldo’s Italian Table and Bar at University Village, 19810 Village Center Drive
Why try? The pizza at Aldo’s is the main event! With light, airy crust and fresh Italian tomato sauce, their Neapolitan pizzas are simply delicious. The Margherita features pools of gooey mozzarella, fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.
What else? Aldo’s has been serving up “la dolce vita” (the sweet life) for just over a year at University Village. The casual dining concept offers juicy steaks, Italian-American pastas, Neapolitan-style pizzas and classic Italian favorites at a great price.
MARVELOUS MEDITERRANEAN: Lamb Rack Tagine
Where to find? Del Mar Naples, 494 Fifth Avenue S.
Why try? This family-style main course comes in a beautiful pottery dish and features a tender lamb rack seasoned well and cooked to perfection in the restaurant’s wood burning hearth. Prepare to be amazed!
What else? Celebrating its one-year anniversary this month, Del Mar is a lovely venue for a special dinner. With two floors of spacious indoor dining, two bars featuring an impressive variety of handcrafted cocktails, and a double-level terrace, each experience at Del Mar is distinct—like a first date every time you dine!
CREATIVE COCKTAILS: Yabba Rita!
Where to find? Yabba Island Grill, 711 5th Avenue S., Naples
Why try? It’s billed as “the best margarita you’ll ever have!” Combined with José Cuervo Especiál, Bacardi Citrus Rum, fresh citrus, agave and a Grand Marnier Floater, this drink sets the tone for the island experience — this is the cocktail for anyone who wants to sit back and sip slow.
What else? Yabba celebrated 22 years in 2022! That kind of longevity is due to its laid-back, “everything is cool” island vibe. It’s upbeat, creative and more affordable than other Fifth Avenue restaurants.
MULTICULTURAL MEDLEY: De Adriatico Seafood Pasta
Where to find? De Adriatico at Gulf Coast Town Center, 9908 Gulf Coast Main Street
Why try? For a dish swimming with Adriatic-inspired seafood, the Seafood Pasta is a delectable choice. The entrée features linguini topped with an assortment of shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels—completed with a generous amount of the owner’s homemade tomato sauce.
What else? Celebrating its one-year anniversary this month, De Adriatico offers a taste of the Mediterranean, with dishes drawing inspiration from the regions surrounding the Adriatic Sea. This family-owned restaurant offers first-class hospitality, a relaxing environment and a good value. Bonus: Every piece of art has a story!
ECLECTIC EATS: Warm Crab & Lobster Jar
Where to find? The Bohemian Restaurant, 27975 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs
Why try? Seafood in a jar? You bet! This shareable starter “hooks” everyone. Tender cooked crab and lobster meat is served in herb citrus butter with infused flavors, along with fresh chives and parsley. Grilled bread is the vehicle to get this tasty treat from jar to mouth!
What else? All of your senses will come alive as you enter The Bohemian! The space is filled with textures and patterns — aqua walls, gold-frame mirrors, velvet barstools, animal-print rugs. The funky decor foreshadows the dining experience. Inspiration comes from around the globe, and there’s a little bit of everything on the menu!
MODERN MEXICAN: Chamorro
Where to find? El Nido Modern Mexican at Coconut Point Mall, 23161 Village Shops Way
Why try? The Chamorro is classic Latin comfort food that’s as beautiful as it is tasty. This gracefully presented dish centers around a tender pork shank coated in arbol pork sauce and surrounded by white rice, pinto beans and sweet plantains. The plate is finished with crispy fingerlings for a delightful crunch.
What else? Open just six months, El Nido offers not only Mexican food but a whole “nest” of Latin flavors, with dishes inspired by the cuisines of Peru, Cuba, Guatemala, Argentina and more. This festive, casual dining concept is a sister restaurant to South Fork Grille (which shares the kitchen) and is just what Estero needed! Take on a Tequila Flight with friends or bring the whole family for a fun and flavorful dining experience.
DIFFERENT & DELICIOUS DESSERT: Coppa Spagnola
Where to find? Mare Terra, 28340 Trails Edge Blvd., Bonita Springs
Why try? While this signature Italian dessert may be well-known in the Mediterranean, it is not often found on menus locally. It is an absolute dream pairing of vanilla and Amarena cherry gelato swirled together with Amarena cherries for a smooth, sensational dessert.
What else? Another 2022 newcomer to the local dining scene, Mare Terra offers a feast for the senses from the start! Colorful acrylic artwork makes a bold statement—as does the food. The Mediterranean restaurant offers selections from “land and sea” (the meaning of mare terra). Its quintessential crowd pleaser is the Salmone Marinato, seared Atlantic salmon with a lovely wine and fish fumet.