Homemade From the Heart of the Eastern Mediterranean
By Cheryl Mandell
SIMIT Fresh Mediterranean is a beautifully quaint restaurant tucked away in the corner of a small plaza off of Airport Pulling Road south of Golden Gate Parkway in Naples. It features truly authentic and diverse lunch and dinner cuisine from all over the eastern Mediterranean.
Simit is a soft, circular, sesame-crusted bread, originating in Turkey and found across the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and other areas in the Middle East. Baked from scratch in-house, Simit is an essential part of the Turkish diet, and a perfectly fitting name for this restaurant that is steeped in Turkish and Macedonian culture.
The decor blends modern design with Mediterranean accents in an intimate and inviting atmosphere, with 10 tables inside and nine tables arranged for outdoor dining. Previously only serving breakfast and lunch, SIMIT opened last December for dinner, and the word has been spreading ever since.
Co-owners Yavuz “Oz” Ozturk from Turkey and Macedonian native Ivo Milanoski have created a unique and truly authentic feast for the senses at SIMIT – from aromatic spices and savory kebabs to sweet pastries and creamy hummus. It’s easy to see why first-time visitors quickly turn into regulars.
General Manager Kristijan Mijalkovski, originally from Macedonia, has worked as a head chef in Canada, Malta and the Spanish Canary Islands. He’s learned from chefs around the world and eventually made his way to the U.S. through an exclusive workforce lottery that, out of 20 million applicants, 55,000 are accepted.
“What is important about our menu is that everything is organic and made fresh by the hands of the chefs in our kitchen,” said Mijalkovski. “We choose the best ingredients directly imported from all over the world.”
That effort is put into more than just the food – SIMIT serves unique wines from Turkey, Macedonia and Italy that are not served anywhere else in Florida.
Chef de Cuisine Adil Sefa Akgul, along with the other chefs at SIMIT, meticulously create artistic presentations of each dish, taking care to honor the eastern Mediterranean cultures they bring to each dining experience. The menus feature a wide range of dishes which showcase the best of both Turkish and Macedonian cuisine.
SIMIT offers a variety of dessert selections. The delectable Turkish goat milk ice cream is a simple and sweet way to end the evening, but the star of the dessert menu is the Kunefe with Turkish ice cream. Kunefe is a crispy cheese-filled dessert made with traditional shredded wheat and pistachio filling, soaked in sweet syrup. Kunefe is served hot out of the oven, so the cheese is soft and warm.
SIMIT is open daily, offering a lunch menu from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and a separate dinner menu from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Catering options are available for those wishing to host a memorable event. Enjoy sophisticated live music while dining on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 – 9 p.m.
Oven Baked Hummus – Three cuisines take the spotlight in one excellent mezze, or small plate. Traditional Lebanese hummus consisting of tahini, chickpea and lemon, served with baked, aged Bulgarian kashkaval (yellow cheese) and Turkish bubble bread, which is crispy and puffs up as it cooks. A great start to the evening!
Muçver – A delightful and delicious Turkish dish, this pan-fried zucchini patty is topped with petite dollops of yogurt dill sauce, fresh flowers and microgreens for a beautifully colorful display.
Halloumi— Sesame-crusted slices of seared halloumi cheese from Cypress, organic mixed greens and a citrus fig glaze featuring green fig preserve that is imported monthly from Macedonia. It’s a perfect sweet complement to the savory cheese. A fantastic gluten-free option, as well.
Tenderloin Shish Kebab — Expertly char-grilled beef tenderloin on a large skewer over a bed of pepper, onion, zucchini and oven-roasted herb potatoes.
Whole Branzino Filet — Seafood lovers will appreciate this simply delicious main course consisting of Mediterranean sea bass, cauliflower puree and garlic broccolini with lemon dill sauce.
The Sultan’s Delight — Derived from the Ottoman Empire, this savory dish was created for royalty, a favorite of Sultan Suleiman in the 16th century – and it’s easy to see why! It is prepared with a decadent, six-hour braised lamb shank, served over creamy eggplant puree, and well balanced with a refreshing herb salad.
SIMIT Fresh Mediterranean
1230 Airport Pulling Road N.
Naples, FL 34104