This year, our tastebuds traveled through Italy, Thailand, India, Peru, Argentina and the Hawaiian islands – all without leaving Southwest Florida! We embarked on many culinary adventures in 2014 and thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Here, we invite you to savor again with us some of the most fantastic dishes in local fine dining. From calamari to peanut butter pie – and all the mouthwatering meals in between – foodies will delight in these gourmet eats!
BICE GRAND CAFE
23161 Village Shops Way, Estero
NOT TO MISS: MADEIRA
This succulent dish is as tasty as it is beautiful. Choose either veal or chicken, lightly floured and sauteed in sweet mushroom Madeira sauce. It’s topped with melted mozzarella and served with hearty mashed potatoes. Dishes at BiCE look as lovely as they taste, making it easy to “feast with the eyes first.”
975 Imperial Golf Course Blvd., Naples
NOT TO MISS: CHICKEN PAD THAI & PEANUT BUTTER PIE
Vietnamese-born chef Mai Harkness infuses her own unique culinary twists into every tasty dish at Cgrape Chef. Chicken Pad Thai is a guest favorite. Peanuts give flavor and texture to this dish, while the satay sauce presents just the right blend of heat and sweetness. Peanuts also star in our favorite dessert. This peanut butter pie is unlike any other. It’s rich and dense, and, as a bonus, it’s also healthier than most cream pies because it’s made with honey instead of sugar. So don’t feel bad about the drizzled chocolate or sweet whipped cream on top!
24041 S. Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs
NOT TO MISS: TAGLIATELLE CON ARAGOSTA
Angelina’s is famous for its handmade pasta dishes. Tagliatelle con Aragosta is a small pasta plate starring Maine lobster, 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. Mama mia!
26831 South Bay Drive, Bonita Springs
NOT TO MISS: SWEET HOME WAIKOLOA SALAD & MISOYAKI BUTTERFISH
Chef Jason Grasty knows how to make a salad exciting! His original Sweet Home Waikoloa includes capers, onions, avocado and pancetta and is topped with a soft- centered, goat cheese “crouton.” The Misoyaki Butterfish is the most popular menu item at Roy’s, and for good reason. This fresh-caught Pacific black cod is marinated in lemon ginger soy sauce for 24 hours before baking. The result is an incredibly soft textured fish with a delightful caramelized top. During season, Roy’s goes through 2,000 pounds of butterfish a month!
RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE
23151 Village Shops Way, Estero
NOT TO MISS: CALAMARI & USDA PRIME STEAK
Most people know of the Ruth’s Chris reputation for juicy filets and other USDA Prime steaks, but the steakhouse also does seafood well. One appetizer not to miss is the Calamari. This is one of the best looking and tastiest calamari presentations around. The squid is first marinated in buttermilk for 24 hours to make it tender before being lightly fried and tossed with a zesty sweet-and-spicy Thai chili sauce.
ISLAND VIEW RESTAURANT
1400 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach
NOT TO MISS: FILET OSCAR STYLE
The ocean-front view isn’t the only reason to visit this recently refurbished restaurant at the Lani Kai Resort. Not only is this nine-ounce filet juicy — cooked in the wood-fired oven — it’s served with hearty “Cindy’s mashed potatoes,” an old family recipe from Chef Jason’s mother. Ordering it “Oscar-style” adds another dimension to the flavor, topped with a tasty bake of lobster and crab.
PASSAGE TO INDIA
975 Imperial Golf Course Blvd., Naples
NOT TO MISS: CHICKEN TANDOORI
Indian spices like turmeric, cumin and paprika give many dishes a naturally brilliant red color. Tandoori specialties are cooked in a traditional clay oven and served with fresh Nan bread and Raitha, a homemade yogurt sauce seasoned with finely diced cucumber. The Chicken Tandoori is “Indian barbecue,” with chicken marinated overnight in yogurt and Indian spices. It comes out sizzling, with a steamy, tantalizing aroma inviting you to dive into this flavorful meal.
THE OTHER SIDE BISTRO
24630 S. Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs
NOT TO MISS: FRIED GREEN TOMATOES & CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE
The Other Side Bistro is a hidden gem on the “other side” of British Open Pub. Chef Brian McCarley’s culinary genius is evident in the complex flavors of his dishes. Although we focus here on a starter and a finisher, don’t miss all the dining delights in between. Fried Green Tomatoes go upscale when this down-home appetizer is lightly battered, fried to a golden crisp and served artfully with horseradish and roasted garlic aioli sauce. Another classic is done to perfection with Chef Brian’s Chocolate Souffle, baked when ordered and served warm with creme anglaise. Finished with sweet raspberry sauce, this is a rich, fluffy indulgence into chocolatey goodness.
A TABLE APART
4295 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs
NOT TO MISS: SALMON TWO WAY & HAWAIIAN SWEET POTATO PIE
The flavors of Hawaii entice and excite in many of Chef Jeff Acol’s dishes. Can’t decide between ceviche or salmon — Why not both? Blackened salmon is served over sauteed organic spinach and topped with Citrus Salmon Ceviche, complemented with Yuzu Beurre Blanc. And, don’t leave A Table Apart without trying the chef’s house-made Hawaiian Sweet Potato Pie. A macadamia graham cracker crust is topped with a filling made from Okinawan sweet potatoes for a cheesecake-like center with a lovely pink-purple hue. The top layer is made from whipped coconut milk, giving a soft blend of sweetness.
EL GAUCHO INCA
4383 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers
NOT TO MISS: MEAT LOVERS PARRILLADA
This mound of meats is definitely a cowboy’s paradise. Everyone smells this sizzling entrée as it’s delivered to the table in mouthwatering style. A mini-grill is piled with beef, chicken and pork. Dark morcilla (blood sausage) is alternated with Argentinian sausage on one end while the rest is a pile of picanha, skirt steak, NY strip, beef short rib, chicken breast and pork chops, all seasoned with Argentinian rock salt. Also try El Gaucho Inca’s authentic Peruvian cuisine.
26841 S. Bay Drive, Bonita Springs
NOT TO MISS: PESCE DA TAGLIO ALLA SULTANINA
This fabulous seafood dish stars pan-seared Chilean Sea Bass, giving a pleasant crunch to the exterior, with soft, flaky fish at the core. It’s a delight to the tastebuds with its creamy lemon wine sauce and extra flavor from cooked artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. Top it off with Chef Kenny’s Tiramisu or Coconut Sorbet served in a genuine coconut shell!
Have a favorite dish from a local restaurant? EMAIL GISRAEL@ESTEROLIFESTYLEMAG. COM. We’d love to try it out and feature more culinary delights in an upcoming edition of Estero Lifestyle Magazine.