Watermark Grille is well known in town for the story of Naples' four Malo brothers and their collection of Viper sports cars and restaurant architecture — tall windows and daylight and nighttime ambiance. The restaurant is in homage to water, with fountains and a massive collection of plants and tropical trees throughout.
A few appetizers are worth mentioning first. If it's done well, which it is at Watermark Grille, saganaki can't be beat for cheese lovers. Watermark's saganaki is scrumptious, salty, citrusy goodness.
Made with Kasseri cheese and floured, it's pan-seared in olive oil and then flambéed tableside with Ouzo and a splash of lemon. ($7.99) For diners who love the sweet with the savory, the Brie encrout appetizer is a pastry dough stuffed with brie cheese and folded with raspberry sauce ($7.99).
The Greek salad is a refreshing start to your meal and the generous portions can be shared. With the requisite feta cheese, olives, cucumber, tomato, onion, pepperoncini and Greek dressing, it's $11.99.
A few of the most popular entrees include the hearty chicken Oscar, prepared with sautéed chicken breast, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, blue crab meat, asparagus and Béarnaise sauce. It's served over angel hair pasta tossed in fresh garlic, butter and Parmesan cheese ($16.99). Prime rib of beef comes in two sizes — a 15-ounce hearty cut ($29.99) and 11-ounce petite cut ($21.99).
Youngsters and vegetarians may be horrified to learn liver and onions is one of the most popular dishes in Naples. This classic dish also is a Watermark Grille favorite, a huge portion that's floured, grilled and topped with sautéed onions. At $13.99, this dish is a steal for people who love it.
One of the reasons locals mob Watermark Grille during the summer is the lobster specials. Maine lobster is included on the regular menu and is served with drawn butter and lemon ($29.95). However, between June and September, several lobster specials star through the last day in September, when lobsters of varying weight take center stage at tables throughout the restaurant.
If you go
Where: 11280 U.S. 41 N., North Naples (turn right at the U.S. 41 entrance to Riverchase Plaza to access the Watermark Grille parking lot)
When: 4 to 11 p.m. daily
Prices: $4.99-$8.99 starters; $7.99-$36.99 entrees; $5.99 kids meals (12 and younger)
Information: 239-596-1400; www.WatermarkGrille.com
Chef Jim Malo makes the Watermark Grille's lobster sauce from scratch, so many of the seafood dishes arrive at table with the lobster sauce, including the seafood platter ($21.99) which is prepared with shrimp, scallops and three fresh fish cuts of the day. The fish vary each day.
Fresh haricot verts (mini green beans) and a special potato are among the side dishes which also include fries, baked potato and sweet potato. The special potatoes vary from scalloped to mashed to mashed sweet potatoes.
Specials can include chateaubriand, lobster ravioli, Key West-style crabcakes or chicken Franoise, many of which make their way onto the main menu. The seafood pasta and the oysters Rockefeller have become so popular that the Malos are adding both to the regular menu in the coming months.
Watermark inspires the question: Could there be anything better than lobster and fried cheese? Yes: Throwing a lively cocktail hour into the mix. Watermark Grille's full bar is a gathering place, a cocktail-hour kind of spot. Larger parties of five or more people are common here with Manhattans, gimlets and other classic cocktails the order of the evening.
It's soothing to see people ordering a round of drinks and then sharing appetizers, followed by wine with dinner entrees. One patron from a tableful explained they have a nice dinner out about every five or six weeks with friends at Watermark.
"Coming here is about good times, good friends, good food and breaking bread together," he explained.
Watermark Grille also is a family restaurant. From 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, the brothers employ a magician who travels from table to table performing sleight of hand.