Wharf Tavern: Hidden gem beckons Naples Bay diners

Jean Amodea/Special to the Daily News (4)
Zuppa di pesce over linguine pasta served at the Wharf Tavern Restaurant.

Photo by JEAN AMODEA // Buy this photo

Jean Amodea/Special to the Daily News (4) Zuppa di pesce over linguine pasta served at the Wharf Tavern Restaurant.

If you go

Wharf Tavern Restaurant

Where: 909 10th St. S., Naples

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Cost: starters $4.99-$13.99, entrees $7.99-$39.99

Information: 239-331-4053 or www.wharftavernnaples.com

Enjoy the bounty from the sea with the fisherman's platter that includes shrimp, clams, scallops, calamari and fish.

Photo by JEAN AMODEA // Buy this photo

Enjoy the bounty from the sea with the fisherman's platter that includes shrimp, clams, scallops, calamari and fish.

Take a drive downtown into Olde Naples, turn into the Naples Boat Club, and look for a hidden gem tucked away where blue sky meets the calm Naples Bay: Wharf Tavern Restaurant.

At first glance, the building's sleek architecture evokes images of a multi-tiered ship's deck complete with silver railing. A chalkboard sign at the restaurant's entrance beckons visitors with the greeting, "All those who wander are not lost."

And, if you're lucky enough to wander onto the outside patio, dine at tables that can accommodate 40 diners wharf side, under umbrellas and a cantilevered roof.

Or, step inside the casually elegant restaurant opened in December 2010 — there's room to seat 110 comfortably — and you'll think you are in a setting reminiscent of quaint New England seafood eateries.

From the soft lighting playing off warm, dark woods and translucent gauze curtains that peek out at the marina to the live lobster tank brimming with fresh-caught crustaceans, and bar patrons watching the Boston Celtics, the Wharf smacks of authenticity.

"We offer New England seafood at a reasonable price and in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. That's what makes us stand apart," said Deidre Diodati, who operates the Wharf with her husband, Henry, both native New Englanders.

Indeed, the Wharf's famous lobster specials are pretty enticing especially considering they are flown in fresh from Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island as well as in state.

Tuck your napkin under your chin and pick away at a perfectly steamed 1¼ pound Maine lobster with fries and coleslaw ($15.99 single; $29.99 twin) available Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and all day Sundays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Besides the lobster deals, the well-trained kitchen staff also churns out a variety of daily and nightly specials.

Sitting wharf-side is easy on the eyes at Wharf Tavern Restaurant on Naples Bay.

Sitting wharf-side is easy on the eyes at Wharf Tavern Restaurant on Naples Bay.

For lunch, customer favorite starters include mussels Dijonnaise, angel hair onion rings and calamari. Also choose from Buffalo wings, stuffed quahogs (traditional New England clam stuffing baked in the shell and served with lemon and drawn butter), clams casino or lump crab cakes with shrimp ($4.99-$13.99).

Coleslaw and salads ($2.99-$7.99) include Caesar, mixed green and spinach, and you may select chicken, salmon or shrimp as add-ons ($4-$6).

Sandwiches served with homemade potato chips and coleslaw (7.99-$19.99) range from tuna or seafood salads to burgers, fried clam rolls or lobster salad rolls.

If your lunch appetite warrants a hearty seafood platter, choose from jumbo shrimp, fish and chips or sea scallops, each served with fries and slaw ($14.99-$25.99).

Tempting dinner entrees include single or twin Maine lobster steamed ($25.99-$39.99) or baked and stuffed ($28.99) and served with potato and vegetable to a New England lobster clambake for two with two quahog chowders, twin lobsters, one pound each of steamed mussels and clams, corn on the cob and bliss potatoes ($79.99). Come hungry.

Jean Amodea/Special to the Daily News
Co-owner Deidre Diodati pulls out a pair of 1 1/4 pound Maine lobsters, a popular choice at Wharf Tavern Restaurant on Naples Bay.

Photo by JEAN AMODEA // Buy this photo

Jean Amodea/Special to the Daily News Co-owner Deidre Diodati pulls out a pair of 1 1/4 pound Maine lobsters, a popular choice at Wharf Tavern Restaurant on Naples Bay.

Pasta dishes ($18.99-$23.99) like lobster ravioli, zuppa di pesci or blackened chicken pasta are also offered along with selections from the sea like fillet of sole, bouillabaisse and baked stuffed flounder ($23.99-$28.99)

While New England seafood is the house specialty, there are options for the landlubbers among us. Select from a 14-ounce choice New York sirloin, 9-ounce filet mignon, chicken Franaise or marsala ($16.99-$29.99).

Top off your feast with a delectable dessert and select from a dense and rich chocolate mousse cake, a slice of creamy cheesecake or the caramelized crème brulee ($5.99-$6.99).

At the full-service bar that seats 12, you'll find patrons drinking up happy hour specials from 3 to 6 p.m. with $2 drafts, $3 well drinks, $4 wines and $5 martinis while sharing fishing tales.

Bar food specials ($4.99) include two stuffed quahogs, eight buffalo chicken wings, served with blue cheese and celery sticks in addition to the Maine lobster specials also available all day at the bar.

Owner Henry Diodati, from Rhode Island, has been in the food industry for 40 years, learning the ropes from the ground up. He has also owned restaurants for 25 years on Martha's Vineyard and in North Naples.

Decadent chocolate mousse cake is a perfect ending to an authentic New England meal at the Wharf Tavern Restaurant.

Photo by JEAN AMODEA // Buy this photo

Decadent chocolate mousse cake is a perfect ending to an authentic New England meal at the Wharf Tavern Restaurant.

Deidre Diodati was raised in Massachusetts' south shore and on Martha's Vineyard.

"Living near the shore, loving local seafood and having a passion for hospitality brought me into the business in the early '90s when I married my husband," she said.

The Diodatis have been seasonal Naples residents since 1997. They have four children, one of whom, Joe, 18, aspires to owning and operating a fishing charter business. After attaining his captain's license this spring, he will captain a 30-foot sport fishing boat.

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