1186 Third Street South, Naples
Third Street South captivates with its historic charm and festive scene. It’s the heart of Old Naples and home to some of the area’s best dining and boutiques. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the culinary artistry of Sea Salt, followed by a stroll down Third Street South and perhaps a sunset at nearby Naples Beach.
Sea Salt is a place for seafood connoisseurs and aficionados of authentic Italian cuisine. The restaurant’s lovely garden setting only enhances the beauty of each, elegantly presented dish. Chef-Owner Fabrizio Aielli is a native of Venice who learned to cook fresh catches at his mother’s stove. He later traveled and trained at restaurants and hotels around the globe.
In the late 1990s, Chef Aielli opened three highly acclaimed restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area (his Teatro Goldoni was recipient of the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award). In 2007, Chef Fabrizio and his wife, Ingrid, moved to Naples and opened Sea Salt the following year, garnering recognition from Esquire magazine as “Best New Restaurant.”
Their successful restaurant group now includes three other Southwest Florida eateries. Chef Fabrizio credits much of the success to Ingrid, who manages restaurant operations while her husband directs the menu. This philanthropic couple also supports numerous charitable causes in Southwest Florida; Ingrid was named “2016 Leading Lady” by Naples Illustrated and “2016 Woman of the Year” by Gulfshore Life.
The menu at Sea Salt is refined by Chef Aielii’s philosophy to “blend simplicity with the very best fresh ingredients.” Seafood selections include locally-caught Gulf Snapper, as well as Mediterranean Branzino (European Sea Bass) and other fresh catches from as far as the clear waters of New Zealand. Seafood selections are kept on ice and displayed in a case near the glass-walled kitchen, where guests may watch as meals are prepared.
Sea Salt Executive Chef Josh Zeman works with Chef Aielli to craft an ever-evolving menu, reflecting the freshest seasonal ingredients and showcasing the simplicity of seasoning with various salts from around the globe. Three featured table salts are served with rustic bread and extra virgin olive oil at the start of every meal. Each delivers a unique dimension. Alaea, a Hawaiian sea salt, gets its reddish color from clay soil and is rich in iron-oxide. The black Hawaiian salt Hiwa Kai offers a silky texture and slightly smoky flavor, while Kala Namak, an Indian mineral salt, has a distinctive sulfurous taste. This salt trio may be purchased for $30 to take home.
The rest of Sea Salt’s extensive Salt Menu includes smoked salts, spicy salts, infused salts and “destination” salts from various regions of the world — more than 50 salts in total available for sampling!
“We’re always trying to come up with something new and evolve with the culinary scene,” says Chef Zeman. That is evident not only in the elevated menu but in the artistry of each dish’s presentation. “I put a lot of soul and heart into all that we cook — a lot of passion,” says the chef.
Sea Salt’s wine list is equally as inspiring. A stunning, glass-enclosed wine cellar next to the “chef’s table” showcases wines and spirits from major viticulture regions around the world, including wines from small producers which are released in limited quantities. The ultimate Chef’s Table experience may be booked for extravagant 11-course dining with sommelier-selected wine pairings.
A more frugal, yet tasty, option is the Chef’s Summer Menu, offering a three-course meal for just $34. Linger at the indoor/outdoor bar or enjoy dinner on the expansive veranda to enjoy a garden-like setting and a fantastic view of historic Third Street South.
This festive, summer salad presents strawberries three ways: fresh, pickled and in a sweet strawberry consommé. The flavor is further enhanced by fresh cucumber slices, the saltiness of pistachios, the poignancy of goat cheese and the tanginess of saba (balsamic vinegar).
Popular in Hawaii, this raw, sushi-grade salmon appetizer is eye-catching and scrumptious with cool cucumber, spicy radish, sweet yellow peppers and a tasty yogurt sauce, topped with crispy tempura flakes.
Truly a unique offering from the “warm” starter menu, the Crispy Octopus is pleasantly tender, thanks to a slow-simmering process, followed by “flash frying” to give the outside a pleasant crisp. Fresh pear slices and a black bean pear sauce give this dish sweetness, balanced by the zippiness of radish slices and miso vinaigrette.
Whole Crispy Snapper
This impressive dish is not to be missed. Fresh-caught Gulf Yellowtail reminds you “this is Florida” as it’s presented whole — teeth, eyeball and all. Handily, the tasty fillets are served atop the carcass for easy consumption and artfully draped with blanched broccolini. It’s further enhanced with “cheese curds” of ricotta gnocchi and a rich and lovely “lobster cappuccino” sauce, plus a side of citrus soy.
Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin
“Land & Farm” offerings are equally as tasty. Kurobuta pork is the “Kobe beef” equivalent when it comes to pig meat. This high-quality pork has a striking crimson color with its rosiness retained even after cooking. Sea Salt’s pork tenderloin gets extra saltiness infused from brining in ricotta whey. This multidimensional dish is complemented with crisp green beans and a slightly spicy tomato-hazelnut-pesto sauce with Calabrian chilis.
Dessert: Norman Love & Roasted Plums
Sea Salt has teamed up with famed Southwest Florida chocolatier Norman Love for dessert! Assorted chocolate truffles are available, along with Norman Love’s Carmelo, filled with light caramel mousse. Sea Salt also makes decadent chocolate brownies in house, served with creamy gelato, and the chef’s summer specialty is Roasted Plums topped with mascarpone zabaglione cream!