‘Rustic Chic’ concept boasts exquisite cuisine
2110 9th St. N., Naples
A rare grape variety propagated on the Venetian lagoon islands is the namesake of Dorona Modern Italian Steakhouse. Medieval monks first grew these golden Dorona grapes, but their vines were thought to be extinct until recently being rediscovered by a winemaking family of Venice.
This wine region, so rich in culinary tradition, is the home of Chef Fabrizio Aielli. Dorona is the newest addition to his collection of noteworthy Southwest Florida restaurants, including Barbatella and Sea Salt (featured in the June 2018 edition of Estero Life).
Dorona’s vibe is distinct from other steakhouses, which typically appear stately and formal with dark wood decor. In contrast, Dorona is modern and eclectic. Live plants hang from the dining room ceiling with plenty of window light to keep them happy. Metal ductwork is exposed for urban flair, juxtaposed with barn doors, rustic room dividers and farmhouse tabletops to keep it casual. Inviting banquette couches round out the decor, and live jazz music fills the air.
Wall art and light fixtures mix the modern motif with the elegance of Venice. Chef Fabrizio hand selected the ornate, Murano Italian chandeliers which hang impressively over a long “community table” in the bar area seating up to 20 guests. It can be reserved for large parties but most often is used for walk-in guests who enjoy mingling.
Chef Fabrizio has an eye for detail and a taste for great food. The menu at Dorona is so diverse it runs the gamut from charred octopus, charcuterie and imported Spanish Branzino to “reinvented” sandwiches and burgers, such as the Jackman Ranch Wagyu Burger with roasted goat cheese and Tzatziki sauce.
Caesar salad is made table side and mixed in a festive, silver serving bowl adorned with elephants. Optionally, whole anchovies can be added to create a classic caesar salad with romaine, shaved parmesan and roasted croutons.
“You can grab a quick bite or have a long, leisurely dinner,” says General Manager Lori DeKett. “The menu is so diverse. The biggest problem people have is trying to decide what to have.”
There is an entirely separate menu just for steak. Guests may select custom cuts from a meat case near the kitchen, showcasing tantalizing filets, ribeyes, porterhouses and more — many of them aged 30-plus days — all resting on butcher blocks. The massive, 32-ounce Rib Chop “Tomahawk” Bone steak is a favorite for sharing.
The Wine & Spirits menu is equally exhaustive. There are many wines served by the glass; the bottle list is divided into several sections grouping light wines, complex wines, opulent wines, floral varieties, textured wines, full-bodied wines and more. The Dorona Reserve List includes top U.S. wines as well as several specialties of Argentina, France and Italy — including Venetian “Tenute Venissa” made from Dorona grapes ($350 a bottle).
All cocktails are handcrafted and can be customized. Dorona Italian Classics include the “Lions Tale” with High West Bourbon and Dorona’s own allspice dram.
Chef Fabrizio’s newest dining concept is a surefire hit, combining his passion for fine food with his penchant for design and his attention to the smallest of details. In the gallery of Southwest Florida’s food scene, Dorona stands out as a masterpiece.
Fresh Blue Crab Cake & Capellini
You won’t find a meatier crab cake anywhere else. Dorona’s Fresh Blue Crab Cake doesn’t have any breading or fillers. It’s “99 percent” real crab meat, held together with egg. This delicious crab cake is topped with capellini pasta and creamy “lobster cappuccino” sauce, accented with fresh chives.
Jackman Ranch Beef Tartare
To make tartare, only the freshest, highest quality beef will do. That is why Dorona sources from Jackman Ranch in Clewiston, Fla., where “they treat their cows like royalty,” says Chef Lester. This grass-fed, natural Wagyu beef tartare is topped with a smoked egg and capers and served with toast and pickled onions.
Lobster Linguini Fra Diablo
Selections from the “Touch of Grain” section of the menu feature many fabulous pastas. This tasty linguini dish combines high-quality lobster meat with cherry tomatoes and wilted spinach in a subtly spicy diablo sauce, topped with lemon gremolatta.
Veal Osso Bucco Ravioli
This may look like any other ravioli, but it’s so much more. Dorona’s Osso Bucco Ravioli is simply divine. This dish came highly recommended by our server, Maurice, and we 100 percent agree! It is a “must try,” stuffed with veal and smashed black truffles, all in a deliciously creamy sauce, topped with shaved parmesan and sprinkled with fresh herbs.
Custom Cut Steak
All of Dorona’s steaks are juicy and delicious, but you need to sample a few to appreciate the subtle differences in these custom cuts. Black Angus is raised in Grand Island, Nebraska, and offers many tender cuts, including filet mignon, strip steak and porterhouse. The natural, grass-fed ribeye from Joyce Farms is exceptionally tender, while Jackman Ranch offers premium Waygu “Kobe style” New York strip steak. Aged beef options include an impressive 22-ounce, Bone In Ribeye. All steaks are grilled with roasted potato, lemon, garlic and rosemary olive oil and can be topped with Maine lobster, grilled prawns, Crab Oscar, black truffle sauce and more.
Can’t decide on one dessert? Order a few to share! The amazingly decadent chocolate cake has so many layers we couldn’t count them. It’s almost as rich as the Dark Chocolate Gelato. Other sweet endings include classic carrot cake drizzled with warm Carmello, or Venetian Doughnuts with Grappa liquor-soaked raisins. These tasty bites are rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with yummy, orange-infused Zabaglione cream sauce.