Q: What can you tell me about the new Italian restaurant that just opened on Marco called La Piazza?
— Linda McDonald, Naples
A: Ristorante La Piazza opened Nov. 12 on Marco Island in the former location of Casa Mia, 1000 N. Collier Blvd., No. 5-6.
The Italian restaurant is owned by Mario DeMartino and Francesco Cicchelli, who first operated dining spots on Marco nearly 40 years ago. DeMartino opened Mario’s, one of the island’s first Italian restaurants, in the old post office during the early 1970s.
The classic cuisine of his new restaurant is called “nostalgic Italian,” what DeMartino said is “old-fashioned, wholesome food” such as veal scallopini and homemade lasagna and ravioli.
“Everything is cooked on the premises, including the bread and pasta,” he said. “Everything is made here. It’s very honest food.”
Caesar salads and peppercorn steaks are prepared tableside, as is the filleting of Dover sole — “the way it used to be 40 years ago,” DeMartino said.
The owners, both from Italy, personally welcome guests in a split dining area that seats 100, not including a private room for banquets.
La Piazza is open 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. daily, with an early dinner menu available 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. The restaurant has been closed Sunday, but will be open every day before the month ends.
Its large bar is open 4 to 10 p.m., with happy hour 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays. 239-970- 0505.
Fin Bistro is another new dinner restaurant on Marco Island that opened Oct. 18 in the former location of Maxime’s Bistro at 317 N. Collier Blvd.
As its name suggests, the new eatery specializes in fresh local and regional fish. The goal is to serve catch within 36 hours, which means the menu changes regularly, said Chef Brian O’Brien,who owns Fin Bistro with his wife, Kathy.
“We seek out the freshest fish in the area,” chef O’Brien said. “We have something new and different every week, whatever is in season or whatever is best.”
Black grouper, flounder, cobia and snapper have been especially popular so far, said O’Brien, who creates unique flavors with a lot of attention to detail.
For instance, the dinner menu includes coconut Gulf prawn salad with wild greens, tomato, palm hearts, red onion and Meyer lemon vinaigrette; crisp herb-crusted Gulf snapper over rock shrimp kabocha squash risotto, brown butter verjus butter sauce and herb sprouts; and Florida black grouper with gnocchi, artichoke fricassee, lump crab, prosciutto, Reggiano soubise and herb infused olive oil. The edible artistry extends from appetizers through desserts.
Fin Bistro has 67 seats, including the bar, which serves beer and wine. Outdoor seating is planned, O’Brien said.
Fin Bistro is open every day but Sunday for dinner, 5:30 to 10 p.m. The restaurant has plenty of parking nearby, and reservations are suggested: 239-970-6064.
MORE AREA RESTAURANT NEWS
■ La Piñata Mexican Restaurant opened Oct. 20 on Bayshore Drive in East Naples. The bright orange building previously was home to Bayshore Break, Saporito’s Ristorante and Amador’s Bistro Italiano.
Chef Hector Hidalgo said the new restaurant has authentic Mexican cuisine such as chile rellenos, tacos and molés, as well as Tex-Mex items such as burritos and chimichangas.
“We have homemade tortillas. All the salsa are homemade. We make everything fresh from scratch,” Hidalgo said.
The restaurant has more than 60 seats and serves beer and wine, he said.
La Piñata, 3367 Bayshore Drive, is open daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 239-774-4445
■ Fish Restaurant opened for dinner Dec. 3 and added lunch Dec. 10. The new local restaurant is on the water in the northern side of the Village on Venetian Bay, off Gulf Shore Boulevard North in Naples.
As the simple name implies, the new restaurant specializes in simply prepared seafood dishes — plain, grilled fish, as well as a sushi bar. Patrons may choose to dine inside or outdoors along the scenic bay.
This is owner Sal Sinzieri’s second restaurant in the Village. He also operates MiraMare Italian Ristorante on the south side of the shopping center.
Fish is open 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day for lunch, and 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday for dinner, as well as 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Brunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Reservations are suggested. 239-263-3474.
■ Aurelio’s Pizza opened Dec. 10 in the former location of Ted’s Montana Grill and Pate’s House of Prime Rib at Coastland Center mall in Naples.
“A lot of people are really glad it’s here,” said new franchise owner Ross Barnard. “Lunch business has been really good.”
Thin-crust pizza is the eatery’s top seller, Barnard said, noting that the pizza is not just Chicago-style, it’s actual Chicago pizza.
“That’s a distinction,” he said. “Our ingredients come from Chicago.”
The Aurelio’s chain, based in Chicago, supplies its locations with meats, mozzarella cheese and other authentic ingredients. The new staff, though, is homegrown, and Barnard said he has assembled a great staff.
“The team of young people we have found in this market is amazing,” he said.
Aurelio’s is open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Dine-in and takeout are available now, and delivery will start after the first of the year. 239-403-8882.
■ Jet’s Pizza opened its North Naples location Dec. 3 next to AAA Coney Island and Mario’s Greek Gourmet in the former Pak Mail suite of Duchess Centre, a small strip center at 9853 U.S. 41 N., between 98th and 99th avenues north.
They deliver east to Interstate 75, south to Pine Ridge Road, north to Veterans Memorial Boulevard and west to the Gulf.
Jet’s is open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. 239-592- 4369
■ Scallywags Steak and Burger House opened Dec. 5 in the former home of Sweet Mama’s Island Cuisine and Mr. Mom’s Diner, 3560 U.S. 41 E., in East Naples. It’s the little red-and-black building across from Sonic, hidden behind all the cars parked in front. The grilled oysters and burgers especially have been a hit so far.
“The burgers are flying out of here,” said Nate Pate, who owns the new eatery with his father, Cloyde Pate.
Scallywags is open every day but Sunday. Lunch is 11:30 to 3 p.m.; dinner is 5 to 10 p.m. 239-300-0272
■ Famous Dave’s opened Dec. 3 in the former space of Vapiano in Gulf Coast Town Center, 9924 Gulf Coast Main St., Unit 130. The Minnesota-based chain’s only other Florida location has operated on U.S. 41 in Fort Myers for many years.
Famous Dave’s features hickory-smoked St. Louis-style ribs, Texas beef brisket, and barbeque chicken and sandwiches. It is open 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday to Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. 239-332-1048
■ Cheddar’s Casual Café opened Dec. 3 in University Plaza, a shopping center that abuts Gulf Coast Town Center in south Fort Myers, at 10030 University Plaza Drive, on the southwest corner of Alico Road and Ben Hill Griffin Parkway. Cheddar’s, a casual dining restaurant chain, is open 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. 239-561-3618
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