Alpine Restaurant provides cool, new, Old World respite

Enjoy the popular  Wiener schnitzel with a glass of Pilsner Urquell at  Alpine Restaurant in North Naples.
Jean Amodea/Special to the Daily News

Photo by JEAN AMODEA // Buy this photo

Enjoy the popular Wiener schnitzel with a glass of Pilsner Urquell at Alpine Restaurant in North Naples. Jean Amodea/Special to the Daily News

Just thinking about the word Alpine evokes images of elevated mountain ranges crusted with snowy caps.

It is just such images that owners Alex and Eva Stranavsky wish to inspire as you walk into their North Naples eatery — the perfect escape from the Southwest Florida summer heat.

Nestled between stores at the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt in North Naples, Alpine Restaurant is carrying on a tradition offering "the real taste of Europe" started by the same owners at their former Europia Bistro in Pebblebrooke Center in North Naples.

"After three successful years, we wanted to find a new location closer to town. Hamish Williams, a loyal customer and commercial real estate broker, found this location, a perfect match for us," Alex Stranavsky said.

In the former Bajio Mexican Grill, step into the newly designed space and you can get a sense of what it is like walking into a Euro-style bistro.

Not overly decorated in the old tradition — there are no Black Forest cuckoo clocks to be found — the Stranavskys instead opted for a crisp, fresh modern décor with just a touch of European whimsy.

At the entry, an inviting pastry display case and coffee bar offer a warm welcome. Bright flowers in hanging plants are suspended from a trio of arches that form an easy separation of tables that sport beige coverings and lime-colored placemats.

Seating is a mix of wooden and modern design that blends with the wood-like flooring. The carved wood molding, a bequest from the former business, lends an Old World touch and is balanced by the soft beige wall color.

Artwork depicting various villages and scenes in Alpine countries share wall space with several flat-panel televisions that play DVDs of scenes of the countries that boast the expansive mountain range.

Small pendant lighting, dimmed for evening dining, is suspended from dark ceilings, yet to be finished with suspended panels that will absorb sound and add depth.

But more than the décor, it's the quality and authenticity of the cuisine that has ensured a loyal following.

If you go

ALPINE RESTAURANT

Where: Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt, 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 158, North Naples

Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. lunch; 5 to 9 p.m. dinner, Tuesdays-Sundays

Cost: Starters $3.95-$9.50; entrees $5.50-$17.95

Information: 239-325-9499 or www.alpineofnaples.com

With a menu that caters to the tastes of discriminating palates of customers from Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, Stranavsky said their home-cooked meals are without equal and simply the best.

His wife, Eva, who achieved the highest academic standing in her class and earned an engineering degree, prefers instead to work her magic in the culinary arts.

"Eva turns out dishes that my customers say are just as and usually better than their mother's cooking. We use no monosodium glutamate (MSG), nothing artificial and everything is made from scratch like our sauces, dressings and even ketchup," he said.

"Our clientele is demanding. They know this type of food and if isn't prepared true to old recipes and taste, they will not come," he added.

And when they do come, their feast starts with authentic breads and rolls like rozky and lupacky, perfect to pair with soups ($3.95-$5.70) such as creamy sauerkraut soup made with smoked pork, kraut, mushrooms, potatoes and cream.

The popular Slovak goulash, generous portions of beef, pork, tomatoes, green pepper, paprika and seasonings more than satisfies the yen for home-cooked European comfort food and is even a favorite with the younger set, said Stranavsky.

Homemade specials ($6.50-$17.95) like wiener schnitzel, made with lightly spiced, fried pork tenderloin and served with spaetzle, red cabbage and potatoes or the chicken paprikas with spaetzle bring customers from Marco Island to Cape Coral and Northport to feast on the homemade fare.

Sandwiches ($5.50-6.95) such as marinated fish, chicken or pork burgers share menu space with generously portioned salads ($6.25-$9.50).

Alex Stranavsky commands the coffee bar and delivers specialty hot drinks like cappuccino swirled with any of six different designs, depending he said, on his mood.

Served on a silver tray with a small glass of Pellegrino and a piece of wrapped chocolate, they are the perfect accompaniment to the traditional pastries such as apple strudel, chocolate cake, walnut rolls and rugalah made by his wife.

Stranavsky also holds court over the crepe bar, outfitted with a special French crepe maker that churns out the light disks served five ways, one with Nutella hazelnut spread as well as warm Euro sandwiches ($5.75-$7), like chicken buffalo or cordon bleu.

Wine and beer are available and the Pilsner Urquell is the perfect libation, he said with which to enjoy the daily specials.

Plans are to further decorate a semi-private dining area and transform it into a mini Czech village with traditional folk dress displays and other authentic ornamentation.

Alpine Restaurants will host a grand opening on Sept. 21 that will include schnitzel- and crepe-eating competitions and entertainment from vocalist Sarah Hadeka Williams.

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