Best of Estero (& Beyond)

Dining 2017

Take a trip with us as we relive our most succulent memories from 2017. Each year, we offer this culinary scrapbook, highlighting our favorite dining experiences. During the past year, we have enjoyed fresh ocean catches, fine French cuisine, Italian comfort food, sizzling hibachi, barrel-aged wines and more! A visit to these restaurants will not disappoint, as local chefs continue to inspire and allure with their culinary creativity.

OCEAN PRIME

699 5th Avenue S., Naples

239.430.0404 / Ocean-prime.com

Menu Must-Tries: FILET MIGNON BLUE + TEN LAYER CARROT CAKE

With glass and mirrors, linens and lights, Ocean Prime offers Naples Fifth Avenue sophistication without feeling pretentious. The vibe is classy yet relaxed, and the food is superb. Start the evening with Ocean Prime’s signature Bubbles & Berries cocktail and be captivated by the rising vapors as marinated berries react with dry ice. Our favorite entree is the Filet Mignon —  sensationally seasoned and broiled at 1200 degrees — topped with a Maytag Blue Cheese Crust. And don’t leave without trying the towering Ten Layer Carrot Cake, as it impresses with thinly stacked layers of cake intermingled with cream cheese icing, pineapple syrup and coconut.

L’AUBERGE

975 Imperial Golf Course Blvd., Ste. 116, Naples

239.596.4303 / LaubergeNaples.com

Menu Must-Tries: VEAU JOSEPHINE + GRAND MARNIER SOUFFLÉ

French restauranteur Patrick Figini brings the culinary classics of France to North Naples with L’Auberge. The menu resembles that of a Parisian cafe, and the atmosphere is cozy and quiet. Escargots, Foie Gras and mussels are expertly prepared, but our favorite dish is the Veau Josephine. Once you try this veal entree with creamy mushroom sauce, you will know why this is one of Chef Patrick’s most requested dishes. It’s French comfort food euphoria! The chef also has mastered the tricky technique of making a light-and-airy, perfectly peaked soufflé, made even more exquisite with a hint of Grand Marnier orange liqueur.

TRATTORIA MIA

6631 Orion Dr., Ste. 107, Fort Myers

239.208.7300 / TrattoriaMia.com

Menu Must-Tries: CHICKEN MASALA + TIRAMISU

Sisters Loredana and Claudia Bolla grew up in the kitchen of a Venezuelan pizzeria run by their Italian grandparents. They bring their culinary heritage to the kitchen of Trattoria Mia, where many of the menu items are old family recipes, and everything is cooked with “amore.” Chef Lore makes five types of pastas in house daily. Our favorite entree is the Chicken Masala (which also may be ordered as Veal Masala), a succulent poultry dish smothered in creamy Masala wine sauce and topped with sautéed portobello mushrooms, served over a mouthwatering mound of mashed potatoes. Finish with Chef Lore’s excellent Tiramisu which simply melts in your mouth with light-and-creamy goodness!

C LEVEL BISTRO & WINE BAR

4450 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs

239.221.7046 / C-LevelBar.com

Menu Must-Tries: CRAB CAKES + CREPES

Dive into the deep blue at C Level Bistro & Wine Bar, a hip and sophisticated gathering place blanketed in blue — from a blue chandelier and blue table lamps to a bubbling blue water feature and neon blue lights reflecting off the brushed metal menus. Fortunately, the food won’t leave you feeling blue! C Level offers classic, fine dining dishes like Escargot Bourguignon, Crispy Duck and Scallops Florentine. Our favorite dish is found on the appetizer menu: Crab Cakes. No fillers here, just plenty of seasoned and seared colossal crab meat. For a light dessert, try the Crepe Suzette with orange liqueur and fresh whipped cream.

RESTORATIVES CAFE

20461 Tamiami Trail, Estero

239.949.6715 / RestorativesCafe.com

Menu Must-Tries: FLATBREAD + ‘FRESH SQUOZEN’ JUICE

On our quest to uncover the best breakfast and lunch spots, we discovered the culinary delights of Restoratives Cafe, serving up artisan juice blends, vitamin-rich smoothies, gourmet salads and sandwiches, flatbreads, craft beers and wines. At Restoratives, it’s all about culinary experimentation, leaving regular customers in expectation of “what’s new” upon each visit. Our favorite flatbread is Garlic Chicken & Bacon with the added flavorful flair of fresh tomatoes and capers. Whether you’re having breakfast or lunch, don’t miss the “Fresh Squozen” juice of the day. You never know what delicious cocktail will be concocted from a healthful blend of various fruits and veggies.

DIVIETO

23161 Village Shops Way at Coconut Point Mall

239.390.2977 / DivietoRistorante.com

Menu Must-Tries: JICAMA TACOS + RUOTA

Take a trip to 1920s Little Italy, the heyday of bootleggers and the Sicilian Mafia. This is the theme of Divieto, a fun, Italian-American eatery offering a classy yet relaxed dining experience in the heart of Estero. The highlight here is undoubtedly a table-side preparation of Ruota di Parmigiano. Warm fettuccine noodles are placed into a giant wheel of aged Parmigiano Reggiano  and tossed to coat with this fine imported cheese. We also would be remiss if we didn’t mention our favorite appetizer, the Jicama Tacos. The “tortilla” is actually thin-sliced jicama (a Mexican root vegetable), while the homemade surimi filling is made with crab meat, diced cucumbers and Serrano peppers.

WASABI

10801 Corkscrew Road, Ste. 51, at Miromar Outlets

239.949.9886 / WasabiEstero.com

Menu Must-Tries: SUSHI + HIBACHI GRILL

The two sides of the Wasabi house offer distinctly different experiences — one chic and the other boisterous. On the hibachi side, it’s a party, where groups sit around the grill, and the hibachi chef  seeks to amuse and amaze while producing dinner one entertaining step at a time. On the quieter side of the house, you’ll find a sleek sushi lounge and a neon-lighted bar. Sushi platters are artfully presented; the Sushi Tart Tart includes colorful layers of rice, seaweed, fish and avocado, accented with fanned cucumber slices and orchid petals.

COOPER’S HAWK WINERY & RESTAURANT

11905 Tamiami Trail N., Naples

239.449.1700 / CoopersHawkWinery.com

Menu Must-Tries: LUX WINES + SHORT RIB RISOTTO

Cooper’s Hawk boasts the fastest-growing wine club in the nation, combining a winery experience with a fine meal. Everything on the menu is made from scratch, down to the house-whipped butter. For those who are not wine experts, Cooper’s Hawk simplifies the selection process by printing bin numbers next to menu items to indicate the perfect pairings. Lux Collection wines are aged in French oak barrels and poured through an elegant, glass decanter, allowing aeration. Our favorite entree from the Cooper’s Hawk “American fusion” menu is the Short Rib Risotto, incorporating tender short rib meat into creamy risotto with mushrooms, white wine and white truffle oil.

MATANZAS ON THE BAY

416 Crescent St., Fort Myers Beach

239.463.3838 / MatanzasOnTheBay.com

Menu Must-Tries: COCKTAILS + BAY BREAD

Matanzas on the Bay is a prime location for viewing the annual Fort Myers Beach Christmas Parade on Dec. 6. Accessible by land or sea, Matanzas offers the beauty of the bay for guests who dine dockside. Start the fun with an island-style cocktail, then order our favorite appetizer: Bay Bread. It’s cheesy bread elevated to a new level with lump crab meat, artichoke and melted bleu cheese. Matanzas also makes its own Oreo-cookie-crusted Key Lime Pie in-house daily. The atmosphere is casual and friendly, so stay a while and enjoy frequent live music and an amazing view!