Key: B= Breakfast, SB= Sunday Brunch, L= Lunch, D= Dinner
A Guide to Dining in SW Florida
Blu Sushi: Cobalt Cool. Star t with… well, star t with whatever the chefs decide to send you. In fact, just put the menu down and tell the chefs to bring what they suggest. In their hands, you cannot possibly go wrong. They’ve proven this ( again) with one of their new creations— the TOTI. com Sushi Roll. It’s packed with flavor, just like the magazines. Next, order a nice bottle of chilled sake ( think dry white wine), kick back, and enjoy the flashy flir tatious show. The lava drops are surreal. 13451 McGregor Boulevard, Fort Myers, 239- 489- 1500; 10045 Gulf Coast Drive, Fort Myers, 239- 334BLU3, blusushi. com. L, D.
The Prawnbroker: Agent Fish. With their salad, fish, steak, and pasta, they have been pleasing palates since 1982 in a tasteful, nautical ambience. Star t with raw oysters Romanoff topped with caviar and sour cream. Then, choose from a scrumptious selection of shrimp dishes or a grilled fillet mignon. Soup or salad accompany all dinners, just like in the good old days. Early diners can catch good deals from 4: 00 to 5: 30 p. m. 13451- 16 McGregor Boulevard, Fort Myers, 239- 489- 2226, prawnbroker. com. D.
Sunshine Grille: A Sunny Delight. Experienced restaurant owner Sandy Stilwell makes it easy for her guests to feel at home with a warm and welcoming atmosphere at her Fort Myers restaurant. It embraces you right away and stimulates the senses— sunny colors, classy live music, and the fragrance of a wood fire. The great menu features woodfired specialties and seafood, such as the duck breast with roasted corn and Portobello mushroom relish and the panseared Florida red snapper piccata. For lunch, tr y one of their famous flatbreads, the quesadilla of the day, or the pecan- crusted goatcheese salad. The bar is inviting and as long as the wine list, which offers selections from all over the world. 8700 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers, 239- 489- 2233, sunshine grillefm.com. L, D.
University Grill: Head of the Class. This place gets the business crowd at lunch and the beautiful theater- goers at dinner. They
come for a “private club” atmosphere and a happy balance of seafood and steaks. Since they change their offerings daily, you get new taste treats on every visit. The crunchy grouper is a staple, and a little New England influence also swims among Florida seafood selections. 7790 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers, 239- 437- 4377, prawnbroker. com/ floridawest/ UniversityGrill. L, D.
FORT MYERS BEACH
Pinchers Crab Shack: Gulf to Table. The best way to treat quality ingredients is to present them as true as possible, and when you’re next door to a body of water chockfull of plump, delicious delicacies, then that rule becomes law. This seafood group has introduced hungry diners to the fruits of the Gulf of Mexico for nearly two decades and has gained worldwide fame and an international following by presenting a steady stream of impossibly fresh grouper, shrimp, blue crabs, and stone crabs in a perfectly Florida, flipflop, and casual environment. Fresh, cut- toorder fries, made- from- scratch slaw, a deca- dently rich, hot cheese & crab dip, and fullon fruity, tropical cocktails complete the experience. It’s casual. It’s fun. And it’s incredibly fresh. Multiple locations throughout Southwest Florida: 28580 Bonita Crossings Blvd., Bonita Springs, 239- 948- 1313; 18100 San Carlos Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, 239415- 8973; 6890 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, 239- 463- 2909; 15271 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, 239- 415- 4009; 10029 Gulf Center Drive, Fort Myers, 239- 415- 4040; 5501 Palmer Crossing Cir., Sarasota, 941922- 1515; 1200 5th Avenue South, Naples, 239- 434- 6616, pincherscrabshack.com. L, D.
Matzaluna: Well- Smoked Italian. One is struck by the intoxicating smell of wood at the door; there’s nothing quite like the smell of a fire. It is that very aroma emanating from the oven that flavors the pizzas so wonderfully. The Five Cheese with Gorgonzola, ricotta, spinach, and artichoke hearts is but one favorite. There is also a full selection of fresh pastas, chicken, seafood, and veal. The festive atmosphere is a
“I have long believed that good food, good eating is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters, or working for organized crime ‘ associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure.”
strong draw for families, but not as strong as their crisp, hot pies. 1200 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239- 472- 1998, prawnbroker. com/ floridawest/ Matzaluna. D.
Pinocchio’s Ice Cream and Geppetto’s
Beach Foodies: The Institution. This is a place where childhood memories come alive. As Sanibel’s ice cream institution for thir ty years, Pinocchio’s serves a repertoire of over 130 homemade flavors every day, including the signature ice creams Sanibel Krunch and Dirty Sand Dollar. Gelato, sorbets, sherbets, and yogurts are also on the menu, all served in generous portions. The new Geppetto’s Beach Foodies gourmet shop next to Pinocchio’s will surprise you with homemade croissants, baguettes, soufflés, pastries, breads, panini, foccacias, and more. 362 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239- 4726566, pinocchiosicecream.com.
Sanibel Grill: Local Color. Join the locals at this interesting bend on the old sports- baras- worship- hall theme we so often see. Sanibel Grill offers much better than the typical pub fare, including juicy burgers,
“He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
“Eggs Benedict is genius. It’s eggs covered in eggs. I mean, come on, that person should be the president.”
~ Wylie Dufresne
seafood baskets, pizza, seasoned bartenders, and the often sought but never found neighborhood bar feel, which explains the popularity of this spot. 703 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel, 239- 472- HIKE, prawnbroker. com/ floridawest/ SanibelGrill. D.
Starfish Grille: On the Beach. Located within the tropical Holiday Inn Resort on Sanibel, the Starfish Grille and the Star Bar on the beach offer a relaxed outdoor setting under palm trees and casual dining indoors. The lush grounds can be reached by both boat and car, or via a leisurely stroll on the beach. The breakfast menu provides a wholesome star t as well as a “sweet temptation” French toast and a heftier allAmerican skillet with bacon, sausage, and ham. The wild mushroom and goat cheese bruschetta and the pan- seared Day Boat scallops make a delicious lunch or a perfect star ter for dinner. As an entrée, tr y the slowly braised beef short ribs, the roasted garlic infused wild salmon, or the flame grilled Toti. com Burger with angus beef and aged cheddar. 1231 Middle Gulf Drive, Sanibel, within the Sanibel Holiday Inn, 239472- 4123, starfishgrillesanibel. com. B, L, D.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
~ Virginia Woolf
Thistle Lodge: Victorian Rendezvous. Creative cuisine such as veal Oscar, lobster and crabcrusted sea scallops, or fried whole snapper mojo adds to the allure of Victorian trappings, as do glorious beach views from almost any table. The outdoor dining patio is one of the area’s favorite lunch spots. If you have no room for one of the luscious desserts, but you are craving the flavor, a partnership between the restaurant’s Executive Chef John Wolff and Irresistible Confections has solved this sweet- tooth dilemma. Together, they’ve designed chocolate truffles that impersonate the flavors of the dessert menu, such as crème brulée, key- lime cheesecake, molten chocolate lava cake, Granny Smith apple crisp, and tiramisu. Casa Ybel Resort, 2255 West Gulf Drive, Sanibel, 239- 472- 3145, thistlelodge.com. L, D, SB.
The Timbers Restaurant and Fish Market:
Dine In or Do It Yourself. The first page of the menu lists the “standards” for which this restaurant is known. A few of these include selections of bivalves prepared a variety of ways like calamari salad with Japanese vegetables, seafood platters, and crab cakes ( all lump). The entire second page lists daily fresh fish specials, which can run from the finned variety to giant king crab legs. Of course, there are always alternative selections for landlubbers. Adjacent to the restaurant is the fish market, where locals purchase the freshest seafood. 703 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel, 239- 472- CRAB, prawn broker. com/ floridawest/ Timbers. D.
Traders: Sanibel Island’s Most Unique Shopping
and Dining Experience! Serving lunch and dinner since 1998, Traders is also a shopping emporium filled with hand- made jewelry, perfumes, lotions, and gifts from around the world. Even the kids can’t wait to shop! Guests enjoy live entertainment from Tuesday through Thursday with local musical sensations Danny Morgan and Chris Workman and dine on Chef Mike’s American Bistro Cuisine, featuring fresh Florida Gumbo, pan- seared crab cakes, and Macadamia encrusted grouper. Happy hour is from 3: 00 to 6: 00 p. m., lunch from 11: 00 a. m. to 2: 30 p. m., and dinner from 5: 00 p. m. to 9: 00 p. m. Reserve your table and find out why the locals voted Traders their favorite, and follow them on Facebook, too. 1551 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 239- 472- 7242, traderssanibel.com. L, D.
Keylime Bistro: Changes in Fooditude. This bistro delivers a heaping bunch of pastelcolored, energetic charm that engulfs you at the front door and fills you with the cavalier casualness of island life. The eclectic menu is all over the map and filled with interesting twists that include grilled, red- leaf lettuce, hearts of palm, ar tichokes tossed in tomatoorange vinaigrette, and escargots baked with blue cheese and tomato. Lunch diners opt for a Big Bad Burger, or other tasty sandwich, while the breakfast menu grabs the early risers and the full lounge attracts any late bloomers. The bistro has outdoor live music every day. 11509 Andy Rosse Lane, Captiva, 239- 395- 4000, captivaislandinn. com/ dining. cfm. B, L, D.
Old Captiva House: Old Florida/ New
American. Chef Jason Miller’s alwayschanging menu centers on the bounty of the season with a focus on fresh fish. The ever- growing global market basket is on full display here with dishes such as gouda- stuffed veal chop with por t- wine glace and saffron risotto, or jerk- rubbed grouper with pumpkin tar t. Beef, veal, and duck lovers will find equally inspiring dishes. An eclectic wine menu complements the presentations, and the view from the Sunset Room takes the breath away. 15951 Captiva Drive, Captiva, 239- 4725161 ext. 4, tweenwaters.com. B, D.
" Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance."
~ Benjamin Franklin
Old 41: Just Like Home . . . and it’s especially like this for ever yone who’s from Philly. Bonita Springs’s connection with Philadelphia was never so delicious! Check out the Philly Breakfast with Taylor pork roll or scrapple and the Philly cheese steak ser ved on genuine Philadelphia- impor ted Amoroso rolls. The restaurant’s made- fromscratch dishes will win over even non- Philly affiliates. The corned beef hash, the incredible Texas French Toast with caramel and pecans, the Carbon’s malted Belgian waffles, or the rice pudding are all homemade and accompanied by fresh- ground Colombian coffee. Old 41 and Bernwood Parkway, Bonita Springs, 239- 948- 4190. B, L.
Hemingway’s Island Grill: The Dinner Bell Tolls. Inside, it looks manly, like “Papa” himself, lined with dark wood, photos of Hemingway, and bright, tropical paintings. Outside, tables overlook the fountain pond at Coconut
Point. The extensive menu takes advantage of the kitchen’s grill with steaks, pork, salmon, and more, doctored with Cuban and other Caribbean influences. Good choices include lobster bisque, conch chowder, coconut shrimp, filet Portobello, and key- lime pie. The bar menu lists thir teen select rums, but spice- heads should go for the Absolut Peppar Bloody Mary. The Shops at Coconut Point, Estero, 239- 495- 7240, hemingwaysislandgrill.com. L, D.
Gordon’s on the River: Classy Club. The idea behind this fine dining spot is to revive the classic supper club. The atmos-
“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”
~ Julia Child
phere is elegant, yet intimate; the ser vice, excellent; and “non- members” are welcome, too. It is Chef Andrew McLaughlin’s food, however, that draws gourmets from beyond Naples. The menu offers culinar y legends, such as Veal Oscar and Florida Lobster Thermidor, as well as creative, signature dishes like Gordon’s Quartet, a truly gourmand composition of wild boar sausage, ostrich wing, venison tenderloin, and oxtail, each ser ved in a unique sauce. The air y, coconut cake with berries might be the best you will ever eat in your life. Sommelier Ian Ponsford not only created a fabulous wine program with more than 150 selections, but he is also on the floor every night. Naples Harbour, 475 North Road, Naples, 239- 213- 1441. D, SB. TOTI Media, Inc. does its best to ensure that information in this listing is up- to- date. However, we still encourage our readers to call ahead for detailed information and/ or reservations before visiting these local establishments.
AWARD- WINNING CHEF JOSH OF THE STARFISH GRILLE ON SANIBEL HAS ADDED TO HIS LIST OF SAVORY CREATIONS. THE TOTI BURGER IS AN EIGHTOUNCE, FLAME- GRILLED ANGUS BURGER THAT IS TOPPED WITH AGED CHEDDAR CHEESE AND CLASSIC STEAK BUTTER, WHICH GIVES IT SUCH AN...