NAPLES — Dining out locally — already easy — is getting even easier this season with new choices and venues to please many palates — meat eaters, Southwest and Mexican fare, healthy choices, French cuisine, Mediterranean-inspired dishes and late-night bites, to name a few.
■ Agave Southwestern Grill will serve a Southwestern dinner to its first diners at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at 2380 Vanderbilt Beach Road, the former Uno Chicago Grill in North Naples. You’ll see and feel the Southwest influence as soon as you drive into the parking lot with the cactus and adobe feel of the re-done building. Step inside and see the hand-painted mural, and smell the tortillas being made at the tortilla station. Guacamole will be made fresh at diners’ tables.
Behind the bar there’s a tequila tower that showcases about 100 bottles. In fact, there are another 75 varieties available. According to general manager Jackie Fishburn, you can see all 175 bottles on display behind a glass wall in the tequila-tasting room that seats 10 for dinners that can be paired with tequila.
“Owners Don and Angela Smith, creators of Angelina’s Ristorante in Bonita Springs, researched the area and thought that Southwestern dining was missing and wanted to create an upscale but affordable place to get the authentic cuisine,” Fishburn said.
“The team even traveled to New Mexico and Arizona to perfect the menu and the setting. The food specialty will be Platos en Fuegos, plates on fire, with a choice of steak, chicken or shrimp flamed with tequila tableside. The steak filet will also be carved tableside,” Fishburn said.
Hours: Starting Saturday hours are 11:30 a.m. to midnight daily except Sunday, when the restaurant will open at 10:30 a.m. for brunch.
■ Figs Grille is scheduled to open soon in a new suite still under construction on the southern leg of Bonita Commons plaza, 25987 U.S. 41 S., Bonita Springs. “A thoughtful fusion of Mediterranean, Moroccan, French and Italian cuisine” is how the new restaurant is described on its website, figsgrille.com, also still under construction.
The fine dining venue will be the latest creation of Sam Tadros, the chef behind Sam-Bucco Bistro in North Naples, and the original owner of La Fontanella restaurant in Bonita’s Pelican Landing.
Tadros said his newest endeavor explores more of the Mediterranean, featuring dishes from Turkey, Lebanon, Morocco and Spain. He came up with the idea last year during an overseas trip.
“Figs will have a couple of Turkish dishes, a couple of Lebanese dishes, a couple of French dishes and just a touch of Italian so as not to compete with Sam-Bucco,” Tadros said.
The interior of the new restaurant, which will have a full liquor license, also will reflect the eclectic menu, with tapestries from Egypt and furnishings from Morocco, he said.
Tadros said he hopes to open Figs Grille by the end of September. He will be the sole owner of the new restaurant, and will divide his time during the day between Figs and Sam-Bucco Bistro, which he co-owns. Tadros said he sold La Fontanella six or seven years ago.
■ Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant plans to open a North Naples location during the first week in October, said co-owner Diana Perez.
Diana and her chef husband, Ismael Perez, have owned and operated a Mexican restaurant on Marco Island since 2005. They are building on their culinary success and venturing north to open a second location for Margarita’s in the Pavilion shopping center. They also will continue to operate their Marco Town Center venue.
The new location will feature the same menu of authentic Mexican cuisine made fresh to order without opening a can, Diane Perez said. House specialties include chile rellenos, enchiladas, a fajita wrap and a sampler plate with three choices from tostadas, enchiladas, tamales, and hard or soft tacos.
Of course, Margarita’s takes its name from the popular tequila-based cocktail and clearly doesn’t skimp on the Mexican spirit. The restaurant’s drink menu features 21 different margaritas on the rocks, 11 frozen varieties and at least 10 more drinks made with tequila.
The restaurant’s new location, 8971 U.S. 41 N., directly behind Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, was most recently the Art of Being restaurant, which closed last year.
■ Seasons 52, 8930 U.S. 41 N., North Naples, will open Oct. 10 with Nicolas Hartzer as the executive chef partner. Hartzer will be cooking the seasonally inspired menu with knowledge from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts.
This is the 19th restaurant in the fresh grill chain, where every item on the menu is under 475 calories, and the menu changes four times a year. To help keep the calorie count down, food is cooked by natural techniques, such as wood-fire grilling and brick-oven cooking. Specialties include the signature flatbreads and mini-indulgence desserts, but appetizers, salads and main plates will also please health-conscious diners with pricing from $3.75 to the mid-teens.
The restaurant also has a wine bar with an award-winning list picked by master sommelier George Miliotes, director of beverage and hospitality. For groups, there are the private dining rooms and especially the one that has pocket windows that slide open to allow a feeling of indoor/outdoor dining. There is also a piano bar and an exclusive chef’s table.
■ Pate’s House of Prime Rib will open in October in Coastland Center mall, 2048 U.S. 41 N., the former Naples location of Ted’s Montana Grill. The restaurant’s speciality is prime rib that will be served from a custom-made trolley in an English pub setting. But to please most diners, the menu also features a New York strip steak, filet mignon, three to four fish dishes and a variety of chicken entrees.
Prime rib dinners will come with spinning salads served with the restaurant’s signature dressing prepared tableside, creamed spinach, Yorkshire pudding, and a choice of baked or mashed potatoes. Lunch will feature a businessperson’s lunch, which includes a smaller cut for $10.95.
“I have been in the restaurant business since I was a teenager and am patterning this restaurant from one I enjoyed in San Francisco,” Stanly Pate said.
Pate and his wife, Julie, still own Pate’s Steakhouse at the Ramada Inn, 1100 U.S. 41 N., Naples, and will change the menu to comfort and bar food.
“Julie is the manager, and we both agree that we want to make it into a place to meet and greet where locals and visitors will feel comfortable to gather,” Pate said. “House of Prime Rib will be a place you have to experience to feel the ambience of a British pub with our wood-paneled walls and waiters dressed in red Eton jackets and tuxedo pants. It will be great dining with a performance.”
■ L’Etoile is set to open Nov. 11 in North Naples, where part-time residents Marc-Jean and Trish Berruet will serve classical French cuisine in a new fine dining restaurant.
“It’s all classic preparations. It’s not nouveau at all,” said Chef Marc Berruet, who plans to incorporate into his menu fresh and natural ingredients that come from local waters and nearby farms.
L’Etoile, French for “The Star,” will open at 10711 U.S. 41 N., on the corner of 107th Avenue North, a few blocks south of Immokalee Road. The Naples Park location formerly was home to the old Heidelberg Restaurant, as well as Mr. G’s Italian Restaurant and Rudi’s European Cuisine.
The Berruets will operate L’Etoile in Naples from November to May during the off season of their other restaurant in the Outer Banks. Fortunately, Hurricane Irene this season did not damage The Pearl, the restaurant they have operated for four seasons in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
Shortly after The Pearl closes Oct. 1 for the season, the Berruets and some of their employees already familiar with the chef’s food and expectations will travel to Naples to prepare for the November opening. The dinner-only restaurant will be open six days a week, closed on Sundays.
■ 360 Restaurant and Market plans to open at the end of November or the beginning of December, said co-owner Rebecca Maddox.
“We’re as much or more a market as we are a restaurant. It’s definitely a mix,” Maddox said.
The new Naples venue will be located at 2891 Bayview Drive, the former location of Tipsy Seagull bar on Haldeman Creek, which has access to Naples Bay and the Gulf.
“It’s surprising that there aren’t many restaurants on the water in Naples,” Maddox said. “Having a place that you can get to by water is definitely important.”
The tin-roofed business, which includes nine boat slips, eventually may have paddle boats, as well. And, Maddox’s goal is to eventually have 15 pedi-cab bikes delivering customers to her business from Fifth Avenue South, Tin City and other downtown destinations.
OTHERS OPENING THIS FALL
■ Osetra Champagne Caviar Bar recently opened at 469 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. Osetra is a specific type of caviar, but owners Anthony Chinaglia and Milos Simovic serve many varieties with all of the accoutrements caviar aficionados have come to expect. Information: (646) 361-7279 or firstname.lastname@example.org
■ Toast, the breakfast, lunch and pastry place, is opening another location in October at the Shoppes of Vanderbilt at 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road, North Naples. If you can’t wait, visit the first location in Pebblebrooke Center, 15215 Collier Blvd., North Naples. Information: toastofnaples.com
■ Zookie’s Sports Pub & Grill still plans to open its second location in the former Frascati’s Italian Restaurant space in River Reach Plaza on Airport-Pulling Road in East Naples. Owner Mark Marzucco did not receive building permits until July, and he needed a couple of months of renovation work to open, he said. Expect the new local sports bar to open in the first or second week in October, Marzucco said.
The new Zookie’s will feature the same big menu as the original location off Immokalee Road across from Gulf Coast High School in North Naples.