The High Art of Beef Steak Preparation - Andre’s Steakhouse in Naples

Andre's Steakhouse Naples

Each evening, as dusk arrives in America, connoisseurs of the high art of beef steak preparation trek to their favorite local steakhouse to take part in a time-honed tradition.  They’re escorted to spacious tables, fine vintages are uncorked, and prime cuts of steak are prepared to their exacting standards.  Somewhere between the tasty char of seared meat, the thought provoking complexity of big red wines, and the joviality of fellow diners — the night becomes a pleasant blur, a memory to be looked back upon fondly, an experience begging to be repeated.  Nowhere does the phrase “Eat, drink, and be merry” hold more sway than within the walls of a celebrated steakhouse.

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Fusion Bistro and Grill in Cape Coral

Fusion Bistro Cape Coral

NOTE: This restaurant has changed hands and is now known as The Original Moretti's Italian Grill - review coming soon!

Can't decide what type of restaurant you'd like to visit tonight?  Solve your problem by heading over to Fusion Bistro and Grill in Cape Coral.  With a menu featuring a variety of dishes from cultures scattered across the globe, they've got a little something for everyone.

Fusion Bistro is located right across from Big John's Plaza at the corner of SW 47th Terrace and Vincennes Boulevard.  This is the building which formerly housed Taste of New York II.  The attractive and light-colored building with a cave-like entrance features a front patio with several tables available for an alfresco dining experience.

The interior has a modest sit-down bar and an open dining room characterized by an eclectic collection of prints and artwork depicting a wide array of geographic locales.  The restaurant is quiet, but my dining partners and I have arrived at an uncharacteristically early hour for dinner in the South Florida off-season.  We're offered the opportunity to choose any table in the house.  We settle in at a comfortable table with a view of the outdoor patio.

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Red's Fresh Seafood House and Tavern - Bokeelia, Pine Island

Red's Fresh Seafood House and Tavern - Bokeelia - Pine Island

Ask for seafood restaurant recommendations among Southwest Florida foodies and, invariably, you will hear tell of Red's Fresh Seafood House and Tavern in Bokeelia on Pine Island.  Owners Bud and Mary Locicero have been in the restaurant business since the early 1970's.  They are the original proprietors of McT's Shrimp House on Sanibel Island.  Culinary tales from those long-ago days are the raw materials of legends still circulating and reverberating all across our Gulf Coast barrier islands.  Bud and Mary opened Red's in late 2005, reminding us of what life and dining used to be like on Sanibel and Captiva before the rampant tourism took hold.  This restaurant affords glimpses of the quality, variety, and spirit our local seafood eateries should be known for.

Getting there is easy.  Follow Pine Island Road through Cape Coral.  Take a right at the four way stop sign onto Stringfellow Road.  In less than a mile, you'll happen upon a mermaid emblazoned sign beckoning you into the unpaved parking lot of this siren red restaurant -- which looks promising, by Pine Island standards.

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Azucar Restaurant and Bakery in Cape Coral

Azucar Restaurant and Bakery in Cape Coral

One of the most challenging aspects of food writing is "keeping it real".  I like to think of the food writer as a public servant.  In this age of computer-based opinions, it can sometimes be tough to separate the honest experience from the false praise.  The internet, along with the rise of social media and consumer opinion websites, have forced food readers to become more sophisticated, more savvy.  Certain questions arise.  "Is this bad review from a competing restaurant?  Is this good review from the owner?  Have advertising dollars contributed in any way to what I'm reading here?"  Not everything is as it seems.  A local food writer with a consistent track record of honest opinion is one of the few resources the dining public can turn to before they spend their hard-earned dollars.  Let's face it; nothing is worse than buyer's remorse at a restaurant.

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Lamotta's Italian Restaurant in Fort Myers

Lamotta's Italian Restaurant in Fort Myers

Lamotta's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria celebrates its 30th year of continual business in South Fort Myers on February 13th.

Today we're going to take things in a different direction. In place of my normal, straightforward review -- I'm going to mix it up a little by going deep into the mind and thoughts which collectively give shape to Lamotta's Italian Restaurant.

Carmelo Lamotta is the man at the helm of this longstanding eatery. He is a multi-faceted character: down to earth, media-savvy, passionate, current, informed, analytic and driven. Three decades of the daily grind only a family-owned venture can provide have granted Lamotta a unique perspective on the restaurant business and the cuisine scene of Southwest Florida. The evolution of a restaurant over thirty years is a compelling story. Lamotta is the perfect person to tell it. I jumped at the opportunity to interview him while reacquainting myself with the cuisine of Lamotta's Italian Restaurant.

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