My husband Mike and I visited the Gulf Coast of Florida, Bonita Springs to be exact, twice in the past three months. And we tried three new restaurants. The food at each is tasty. Very tasty. And each is different.
Angelina’s is one of the top three restaurants in the greater Naples, FL area and the top-rated Italian restaurant. Mike and I were lucky to get a same-day reservation when we visited in February. When we pulled up in front of Angelina’s a cheerful valet whisked our car away, the door to the restaurant opened as if on a breeze and a smiling hostess greeted us. The restaurant has low lighting and fine fixtures. As we walked to our table we passed through the bar area, which is stunning. The countertops (what are they made of?) are lit from below and the stone is a gorgeously glowing centerpiece to the room.
As first timers we didn’t quibble at being seated on the patio, even though temps when we were there hovered in the low 60s at night. No worries. Angelina’s has the right idea, its cozy patio is enclosed in canvas, the chairs have comfy pillows to support your back (and keep it even warmer) and the auxiliary heating system, a series of long “ceiling-mounted” units that work better, at least in my opinion, than the more popular standing lantern-style heaters. We were never cold on what was definitely a cold and windy evening.
Based on our server Marina’s recommendation Mike and I split the evening’s special appetizer, butternut squash ravioli dressed with arugula. Marina urged my husband to take a bit of arugula with every bite of ravioli; he did and said the dish tasted “even better.” Thank you, Marina for expanding his palate! The combination of sweet and peppery was perfect.
Then we shared a buffalo mozzarella and heirloom tomato salad; paired with crispy pancetta and accompanied by buttery salad greens dress in balsamic, the salad had me happily humming. And the plate was scraped clean.
Mike skipped a pasta course, but I didn’t. The handmade pasta squares were drenched in a classic pesto sauce and sprinkled with grana padano. It was delicious and I had my leftovers packaged up to take home.
Then Mike and I travelled separate culinary paths. He had the porcini braised short ribs, substituted regular mashed potatoes for the suggested sweet potatoes and tried (another first for him!) sautéed brocollini. Mike’s eyes widened when his plate arrived tableside; he’s a true gravy connoisseur and he said the gravy with the ribs was to die for. I have to believe him since he wouldn’t share even one bite of his meal: His plate looked like it was licked clean by the time he finished.
I ordered the seared dry pack sea scallops atop house-cured pork belly; the combination of salty and sweet was perfect. A yukon gold potato and spinach mashup nestled next to the scallops tasted divine; with just a dab left I asked that it too be packaged up to take home. I paired that luscious daub with my leftover pesto pasta for breakfast the next morning!
We ordered wine by the glass to accompany our courses. Marina offered us the services of Angelina’s in-house wine expert to help us with our wine/food pairings, but we decided to wing it. (We did listen in as the wine expert discussed wine pairings with the two couples at the table near ours. And that was fun.)
Even though the evening’s mini dessert selections looked appetizing Mike and I were stuffed. We declined to order dessert, but lovely Marina insisted we try one of the petit desserts “on her.” Unbelievably, Mike and I snarfed down crème d’ mente chocolate panna cotta with old-fashioned chocolate cake. It was sublime!
By the time we wended our way past the gorgeous bar and out into the chilly night we were in a food coma. A wonderful food coma, courtesy of Angelina’s. And we were already talking about what we’ll order at Angelina’s the next time we visit Bonita Springs.