Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Office in Cape Coral, Florida


"Honey, I'm working late at the office...I'll be home later!"

Well, in this case, The Office happens to be the quite nice French restaurant that opened a few months ago. Peter Young of  "Wine Tasters of Cape Coral" sponsored a delicious five course meal, paired with five wines at The Office. Outside of perhpas 30 or so guests, no one was the wiser! I learned of this through Wanda Lopez of "Foodies SWFL" on Facebook, and made the trek through snow and ice, crossing the recently polluted  river Styx (thanks to the US Army Corps of Engineers)  to Cape Coral.

The restaurant is in a white building, perched on a corner at Vincennes, just a block  north of the Cape Coral Parkway East.  While it's been other spots in the past (Table 209, etc.) , I'd like to see The Office be supported by the community and have staying power.
The décor is smart, with white walls, white chairs, a few grey comfy sofas and  black ceiling and floor. The far wall has a 20 foot long photograph of the Paris skyline, and a full bar is to the left as you enter.  Chef Christian Caillaba is comfortable serving 4 or in our case, 30 at once, with a good pacing. The items we had are not all on the standard menu, and may appear as specials.  Jerome chose the wines, hailing  from France and  Germany to Argentina and California.


First course featured two  exquisitely creamy Roquefort quenelles, topped with a baked or sautéed  Parmesan crisp, and a arm slice of bread with a proper firm crust.

Chef Caillaba's preparation of this blue sheep's cheese is one of the best I've had. What a way to start!  Recommended.
This was paired with an Agua de Piedra Malbec, that hit the spot. Produced by Argentina's  oldest winery this Mendozan Malbec delight also pairs well with beef, cuy or spicy foods.

Mini-rant- BTW, there are no salt and pepper shakers on the tables.  With so many on low-salt diets chefs may under salt food, as one can always add seasoning to taste. My taste is used to the salting as done in countries other than the halophobic USA.  I do like to have salt and pepper available...oh well, easy solution- I should just carry a vial of salt (salt cellar) with me, and shut up about salt!

A pair of  "ravioli" escargot followed. Two large pasta shells  filled with chopped escargot, and bechamel sauce rested on a red pepper  purée.  Alas, this was the only "meh" item of the dinner, for the pasta was quite firm, and hard to cut, and the bland filling needed a bit more seasoning.


 A French Chardonnay, the 2014 Grand Moulin was a good match.

Round three threw a few folks, as diced pheasant heart in a rich brown sauce was  paired with
a nicely fruity 2014 Chateau Montaud Cotes-de-Provence Rosé.


The melons and citrus notes were a good counterpoint to the earthiness of the sauce and the meat's chewy texture. I definitely like it the pheasant dish-other people were clearly divided on this one.  

To me, the heart of France is the rich comfort food casserole dish known as cassoulet,  traditionally served in an earthenware cassole, made near the village of Castelnaudary.  (BTW, the currently favored  haricot beans of the cassoulet are thought to have been  imported  from the tropical  Americas!) This  dish often takes  two days to simmer, as the flavors and textures of  cubed pork,  pork sausage and confit duck legs interact with  wine, tomatoes, and garlic united by slow cooked, overnight- soaked white navy beans . .  Chef Christian Caillaba's cassoulet would make a Frenchman smile!  This dish is highly recommended.


Jerome paired this masterfully with the 2014 Domaine Pere Caboche Cotes-du Rhone, which is 80% Granache, 10% Mouvedre, and 10% Syrah grapes.  This property is a close neighbor to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, (between Lyon and Avignon), and at half the price of such other wines! It retails for ~ $62, and is well worth it. I bought a bottle to take home...and I won't wait till my next cassoulet to try it!


The Iced nougatine dessert was wonderful! Two quenelles of Italian meringue with chunks of candied almond were lapped by a rich raspberry coulis.

 I wish I could buy this by the quart. Highly Recommended!   This was accentuated by the Ruby Red Rosé with Grapefruit, a wine I'd not have normally tried, as I shun wines made with atypical added fruit juices. This wine didn't overdo it-it'd be a delight to sip in summer, too.



By the way, others at the table told me to come back to try the dessert sampler, which features a quartet of different desserts with espresso, for $14. I'll be back!

Negatives-Minimal-parking is limited, however after 5 pm, local businesses should not mind diners parking in their lots. Prices are studiously absent from the online menu. This may turn off potential new customers who figure "If they won't list the price, I probably can't afford it." Whatever. Not listing prices is a pet peeve of mine. I'd come back here whenever I'm in the Cape Coral area.

Competition? None in Cape Coral, and the nearest French restaurant is on Sanibel.



4721 Vincennes FL 33904, Cape Coral St, Cape Coral, (239) 542-1790,  www.theofficeresto.com

Monday, February 1, 2016

21 Spices Restaurant- A welcome addition to Naples' Culinary Scene.

Note: I do not have my usual photos up of the individual dishes, as Blogger screws them up. Shame on Blogger.



The best Indian restaurant in SW Florida is 21 Spices by Chef Asif, hands down!  I've eaten  there thrice in the last month, (only their first month of existence) and it just gets better and better. Whether you  live in N. fort Myers or Everglades City, the drive is well worth the evening's dining.

Enter the restaurant from its generous parking lot just off Tamiami Trail East and Sugden/Avalon, East of Town Center Mall, and you find yourself whisked to a scene that would be a tasteful set of Scheherazade.  Overhead  lamps provide a too gentle light to a muted palette of off white walls and columns, black and white chairs and  grey banquet seating. There's an elegant full bar off to the right, a mini stage for musicians to the far left, and the spacious dining room with a peek into the kitchen in front of you, capped with black, grey and white glass tiles.  Racked and chilled wines are open for your inspection- these are serious wines, not an amateur's collection. 

 You are quickly greeted, escorted to your table, and given a choice of  chilled tap or bottled water, and a dish of colorful  dal lentil flour crisps, accompanied by a trio of chutney and sauces. My favorite is the tropical chutney's diced mango, pineapple, raisins, cilantro and a note of chili.  The tamarind sauce has layers of rich flavor, and the Spring-fresh cream-based mint sauce has a touch of cilantro. Lighting is low at the tables on the outer rim, and adding a few candles did help to make the menu almost readable. Must be my aging eyes? Not a real problem, as some at several tables used the flashlight app on their cell phones to peruse the menu and have a glimpse at the true colors of their meal.

Janet, our server on my second  visit was knowledgeable and attentive, listening to our preferences, and making quite helpful suggestions.  Gregory, our server on my third visit, is a hoot! He's sharp, funny, uber professional, and we would have had him join our table if the restaurant wasn't packed! We started with a highly recommended bottle of Whispering Angel Rose form Provence.  Alternatively, you may want to have a cocktail or a beer, there's plenty of choices.

The Shahi baby lamb chops ($12) are a tiny trio of succulent goodness that we savored  medium rare. The New Zealand baby chops  are wonderfully seasoned with a mixture that includes of English mustard and mint,  and are roasted to perfection. Highly Recommended.

Palakwala chaat  ($8) is a dish I'd have overlooked, were one of my dining companions not such a chaat aficionado. Baby lettuce is dipped in a mixture of yogurt, tamarind and dates, then briefly fried  in a gluten free bean flour till light and crunchy. This was pronounced to be a superb chaat by my Indian food maven!  Highly recommended.
 
Lamb Biryani was good on flavor, however the lamb was overcooked, and the quantity of meat was underwhelming.

Ghehra Paani  diver scallops ($14)  are a lovely trio of properly cooked large scallops in a tasty yet mild brown sauce with black lentils, topped with red tomato jus and yellow pepper coulis.  Recommended.

Progressive chicken  65 was a well received surprise ($8), a goodly portion of small chunks of  still crisp boneless  diced chicken, cooked in a red sauce of ginger, curry leaves, yogurt, chilies onion and bell peppers. Highly Recommended. 

Mazedaar  samosa ($8) brings a taste trip of nicely fried samosas, filled wiht spiced potato and green peas, with a drizzle of tamarind -date chutney. I don't get why Chef Asif likes a round number of three, when most diners are in pairs or quartets.  Maybe triplets frequent  21 Spices? Whatever. These addictive bites are Highly Recommended.

 
Vegetarian? Nizam's kofte ($18) has addictive vegetable and cheese dumplings simmered in a rich saffron sauce, with a dash of lemon and coriander is your new best friend forever!  The small meatball-sized dumpling have such an enticing texture and quality that can make dining companions fight over them...or order another serving. Highly Recommended.

Entrees are varied, and include Jhinga prawns, Lucknowi grouper, tandoori Pacific shrimp, chicken tikka masala, Madras chicken, 21 spices lamb chops and a variety of biryanis Prices range from $22 to 30. Judiging by the packed dining room on all three visits; patrons consider the pricing quite reasonable for the quality.

The entrees come with a choice of delicate aromatic basmati  rice or naan. Very simple, if you order a dish which has a prominent sauce, get the rice to really soak up the sauce-that's the rice's forte. We additionally opted to add an order of dry fruit and nuts naan ($7). It's a well crafted naan,  forged in a proper tandoori  oven till just crisp and focally blackened.   The puffy garlic naan  really appeals to my ersatz Italian ancestry with  a wash of oil and  garlic. Both additional naans are recommended.

Lamb rogan josh ($22)  is a Northern Indian/Kashmiri  favorite, with lamb simmered in a brown onion and tomato reduction.  It was ok, with the lamb on the well done side.

Saffron coconut chicken curry ($18) is mildly (ok, for Neapolitans tender palates," moderate")  spiced with chilis, and certainly milder than a vindaloo. It's a generous portion of  bite-sized chicken,  bathed in a creamy sauce of saffron, tahini, coconut, almond cream, and mint, then topped with crispy onions. Recommended. 

Madras chicken ($18 ) is a mildly spiced dish, with ample succulent chicken  in an anise, curry leaf, coconut milk and mustard red sauce.  Though described as spicy, it's mild to me. Recommended.

Chicken tikka masala ($18), that oh so British national dish, is a star with Chef Asif. Tandoori chicken breast chunks are simmered in a mild creamy tomato sauce. Looking over the various chicken dishes we've had, it's clear that there's little similarity in the spicing between the dishes.  Recommended.

Tthe Kohinoor  of the Ocean  ($30) a tandoori grilled quartet of small lobster tail, salmon, a medium-sized scallop, another fish and  shrimp,  basted in yogurt, chili, curry cilantro and mint. The portion is sized for a small to moderate diner; the seafood was tender. The salmon and scallop were good, both just shy of being overcooked. Lets face it , when the difference is a matter of seconds of cooking time, your dish will probably be spot on.  Recommended. 

Have a big appetite? The lamb shank is your match on both the quantity of meat and the flavors. Best part? The onion strings that have such concentrated flavor! Recommended.

We were amply fed, and very happy with our service and cuisine. I (and my expanding waistline) can't resist dessert, looking down the list with saffron ginger kulfi (ice cream), coconut laddoo milk balls dipped in chocolate, and rose flavored rice pudding.

 We chose the gold leaf shahi tukda's India fried toast ($8) , on a bed of rich custard, topped with pistachio ice cream, a strawberry slice, and a few strands of 24 karat gold  leaf.  There were no complaints about this mildly sweet dish. Recommended.

The saffron ginger kulfi  ($6) got polar  reviews-one guest clearly didn't like it-her one and only spoonful had  a strong scent that could have cleared her sinuses so she picked at the pistachios-the server took it off our bill. And another guest finished  her kulfi and was ok with it. I had a taste, and felt it to be "meh."

Those with a decided sweet tooth (or set of sweet teeth?) should select the gulab jamun ($8) , which I can inadequately  describe as a dense  fried fritter-like sugared milk solid ball , saturated with saffron-cardamon rose syrup. It's so rich a dish that several can share it-it's my favorite of the desert selections. Recommended.  

The rose flavored rice pudding ($6)  was good, with gently cooked basmati rice in milk with rose syrup, topped with cashews and raisins.
 
We left each time, more than happily filled with delicious food, and the hours in the elegant dining room passed  unnoticed- a sign of both delicious food and enjoyable dining companions.  A sign by the door noted to newcomers that the restaurant was full (as on the previous two weeks) and could not take an y walk ins. Not bad for a spot that' barely open for but a month, and located out on the East Trail, no less! Any competition? Nope, Naples Passage to India, or Fort Myers' India Palace do not come close on decor, flavor or price. This is THE Indian restaurant to savor, and it's one of my top restaurants of all the cuisines offered in the two counties.

 We'll be back to try more.


4270 Tamiami Trail East, #21, Naples, 919=8830

Monday, January 25, 2016

Porker BBQ




Porker BBQ at Naples Beach Brewery on Saturday nights is a secret kept by locals. This is the best Craft BBQ in Collier County, pure BBQ meat candy,  smoked on site and served out of a sparkling clean truck. Chef Chris Jones is a top chef who can make anything from tostadas to a that at a Michelin star restaurant-I've tasted it to know.

"Eat with your hands" is the operative word. Where else for $10 can you make a full dinner of a huge pulled pork  sandwich or chopped brisket, with slaw, frijoles gordo ( see below) and porker pickles?

Tostadas are mile high, with chipped meat, frijoles gordo, queso , jalapeno, cilantro and special sauce.  The frijoles have black beans, pinto beans, jalapeno, tomato and slivers of brisket and pork shoulder.

Have a very large appetite? Then it's the Meat Fest for 2 or more people ($12 per person) with a variety of  pork shoulder, brisket, St. Louis ribs and in-house made short rib and brisket porker-wurst, with sides of taco slaw, jalapeno cornbread, porker pikcles, frijoles gordo, tortilla chips and sliced soft white ass bread!

The burritos are very large-a meal  to savor!

Families to couples on date night come and grab a seat inside Naples Beach Brewery to order flights, or their favorite on-site brewed craft  beer. You won't go thirsty here!

Want chicken or fish? Fix it at home. 

Porker BBQ
4110 Enterprise Ave. # 102, Naples  231-645-4025, http://www.porkerbbq.com/

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Salsa Brava Mexican Grill- Delicious Authentic Cuisine in Naples, Fl





Salsa Brava Mexican Grill has been the insider's top choice for Authentic Mexican cuisines in SW Florida for over 5 years. Yes, not many mom and pop places last that long unless they have a faithful following.  How do I know it's authentic AND delicious? Besides going on my experiences,   I talk to the other patrons  dining there and others who have recommended it to me. Many have been to various regions of Mexico. Through trial and error, they determined that only Salsa Brava, (and the late La Pinata),  serve dishes that can be found in Mexican traditional family kitchens.  Salsa Brava is Zagat rated  "Very Good to Excellent", and won the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.




The restaurant is a true hidden delight;  a transplanted Mexican cantina, seating 20 people inside, and room for perhaps a dozen more seated under the stars on the patio. There's room for 6 at the open kitchen. It's not visible from  US 41, as it's nicely hidden behind a Kwik Pick store on 103nd Street, just off US 41, and south of Sushi Thai which is on the other side of 103rd Ave.




The key to dining at Salsa Brava is to ask Owner Jose Myers for the traditional specials of the day, or for his chef to cook up  traditional  dishes that have been previous daily specials.  Jose was born in Guanjuato, and he is quite partial to the Oaxaca cuisines.

  While Salsa Brava serves a variety of burritos, chimichangas, quesadillas, and enchiladas, they differ from those at other restaurants because the corn and wheat tortillas are freshly made in house, and the cheeses are high quality Mexican, and not from Wisconsin (sorry Cheese heads!)   Traditional dishes are serves with red Mexican rice and pureed pintonbeans spriked with quesco fresca and a choice of flour or corn tortillas. Try the traditional specialties-  Camarones al chipotle ($15) with jumbo shrimp served i a smoky chipotle cream sauce, or pescado frito-whole red snapper golden fried with a touch of lime and garlic ($15).  Ceviche mixto offers chilled mahi mahi and shrimp  with sliced avocado for $12.




Start with freshly made guacamole, and pico de gallo with its  mix of slightly sweet and smoky flavors.  The corn tortilla chips are hot and fresh, -you'll know from these alone that you're in for a taste treat as you order further!


 Queso Fundido ($6)  (molten, or melted cheese ) is the epitome of perfection via simplicity.

This is an oval dish filled with melted  Oaxaca cheese, topped with tender roasted Poblano pepper strips,  with a hint of chorizo, onion, garlic and maybe lime.  It melts and strings  like a melted mozzarella, however the taste is completely different and  much more flavorful!  Highly recommended.


There's a good variety of beer and wine, I went for the Bohemia Classica brand, rather than Corona, dos XX, Heineken, Pacifico or Modelo,  or  a wine. Come for Happy Hour food and more-beer is $2, imported beers are $2.50, and all wine is $2.75. You can't top that in Naples! Check out the beautiful hand blown margarita glasses with swirls of color. For fun, Jose added a lime and tiny umbrella. Their Jamaica tea and various fresh juices are popular, with horchata, tamarindo, mango and melon.

Elotitos  are a Grilled Mexican corn dish that's served as often as, say , burgers or hot dogs are in the USA.  
Young fresh sweet corn on cob  is briefly boiled, basted with a touch of sour cream or mayo, and sprinkled with  cheese, ground mild chile pepper and other subtle seasoning. It's juicy and delicous! Recommended.

Taco Al  Pastor  has tender  shredded pork marinated in the al pastor roasted pineapple sauce with sliced onions and cilantro, topped and shredded cheese.   A shpritz of lime, and you're good to go!

 I  really enjoyed the chicken  tinga sope. with chunks of  chicken in a smoky, spicy chipotle pepper Mexican crema sauce, with rich cheese, beans, tomato, onion and  cilantro, topped with a mini-mountain of melted cheese, and  served atop a sope-a  specially made, briefly  fried thick corn tortilla with raised curved edges. Highly Recommended.
Chicken Mole Negro has rich layers of flavor, with  Mexican chocolate, several different dried chiles, cinnamon,  often various nuts, and herbs bathing tender chicken. This  1,000 years  recipe comes from the  Mayans. For some it's an acquired taste, for others, it's chile and chocolate manna from heaven!  This is the real mole sauce that's moderately spicy-not for wimps. Highly Recommended.




Other specials on my visit included caldo de res-hearty beef rib and vegetable stew with tortillas; menudo soup, chile relleno, and various tamales.


Riblette costillas de cerdo  are baby pork ribs, served with  sliced napolitos (baby cactus) in a light green sauce.

What's for dessert? Order the sopapias/sopapillas= huge puffed globes of sweet goodness for $4.95.. You can't go wrong with  fried ice cream, churros or apple cinnamon chimichanga.

 Jose is a great host, and the servers are friendly and knowledgeable. Prices are wallet friendly for the generous quantity as well.


Salsa Brava Mexican Grill, 239-254-0222,  10265 Tamiami Trail North, Naples,  http://www.salsabravanaples.com

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Coastal Peruvian Seafood & Grill Naples, Florida





There's a new kid in town, and this one is well worth a visit!  In a city with  seven delicious Peruvian restaurants, there's room for another.  I acquired my  taste for Peruvian cuisine whilst visiting Peru- you needn't travel that far to fall in love with the refreshing cuisine's goodness!

Executive Chef Christopher, and his wife/Front of House Fabiola Santos dreamed of having their own restaurant for years, one that would bring Peru's mix of Inca, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese styles to the table. They have opened their restaurant, and will find financial success, in only a few months. How do I know?   This is a very early review; they've only been open a week.  I am certain it will only get better with time, as the chefs try and perfect different variations on dishes. Chef Chris took time to come to each table and asked for, and truly listened to folks' impressions and feedback of their overall experience.




There's a welcome clean and crisp decor, from the attractively patterned seaweed green linoleum floor that sure looks like the ocean in some places (now you'll start noticing flooring! ) to the focally tiled wall and open kitchen behind the mini cebiche bar.

 Did I mention open kitchen?  It'll be your first time seeing a Josper charcoal oven, which smokes, grills and cooks simultaneously at temperatures ranging from 300-600 degrees, sealing in a robustly rustic flavor.

The specialty dishes flavors and crispness show off what the Josper can do.  Aaah, If only you could get a whiff of the woodsy smoke, however that goes up the ventilation hood.

Drinks? There's draft and bottled beers, wines by glass and bottle, and an assortment of  sangrias and soft drinks.

With "coastal" and " seafood" in the name...you know what to order!

Cebiche and tiraditos are the barometers of a great Peruvian restaurant, and Coastal has eight cebiches to sample...and daily specials, too. There's aji amarillo tiradito, with sashimi-style corvina topped with aji amarillo pepper cream with a hint of pisco; fish and octopus with arnaucho chili, and a trio of aji amarillo, soy/sesame, and rocoto cebiches served in shot glasses. Sample  Huancaina crema-a reinvention of the classic potatoes with a yellow pepper cream sauce.

My dining partner and I started with the "cebiche 200 miles" ($ 19 ), a generous mix of shrimp, squid, mussels, fish and sliced red onion in a sharply citrusy rocoto pepper tiger's milk. 

It's so fresh, with unusually large chunks of fish (1 1/4" x 1") for cebiche, calamari rings, and freshly shelled mussels. The tigers milk (citrus) acidity is sharper than at other Peruvian spots.

The octopus carpaccio ($15)  is a goodly serving of sliced medium sized au natural octopus,
topped with a nice blended olive oil aioli, a dash of tiger's milk, avocado slices and bits of crisp bacon. 

The octopus is delicious with the delicate sauce. While I love bacon on many items, here, I'd recommend asking for the bits to be served on the side, so you can add  'em as you'd like. Recommended.

Entrees are a mix of the classical lomo saltado's sautéed beef tenderloin, to the creative tuna Peru-Thai's seared tuna with panko crust over a lima bean puree with mango, chili and veggies. Where else will you find an aji amarillo risotto with flambéed beef and seafood, or chaufa aeropuerto's fried rice and noodles with pork, shrimp and chicken?

  We decided on two of the Josper charcoal oven's specialties. The Poseidon fest ($23 )  is a stunning presentation with an ample grilled assortment of huge shrimp, fish, octopus, large scallops and squid. Though it's generously topped with a rich mildy spicy anticucho sauce, I'd recommend asking for the sauce on the side, to use as a discrete dip- an accent to the delicate crisp goodness of the seafood. 

The Josper oven's magic is clearly evident with the beautifully golden brown seafood. There's also two slices of toasted thick bread to sop up the sauce. By the time you read this, this will probably be known as their signature dish!

The coastal anticuchos ($23 ) are grilled chunks of veal heart, served with yucca fries  and a slice of Peruvian golden corn. It was ok, it was cooked well done; I prefer a more tender medium rare...My bad, I didn't ask for it to be medium rare-lessson learned. Next time.

Desserts were terrific! 
   Pisco Sour Semifredo ($8) is  refreshing, with a splash of the classic Pisco liquor and lime sauce, blended to a whipped delight. If they added crunched up bit soft Andes chocolate mints or creme de menthe to the bottom of the parfait, this would be perfection! Recommended.


The must have dessert is the Chirimoya martini ($9) , with chunks of the lychee-textured fruit mixed in a fresh mousseline. Highly recommended.


Other desserts include chocolucuma- an Andes'  fruit blended with chocolate;with choc-olate; Neapolitan flan, suspiro de limena and caramel cheesecake

Our very large lunch assortment, which could easily feed three or four people, was $97, before tax and tip. There are daily specials that are far more wallet friendly-we wanted to try the dinner items that also were available at lunch.

Coastal Peruvian is the new kid on the block...and I predict they'll have tables full every night, in just a few months of word of mouth advertising.


Coastal Peruvian, 5447 Airport-Pulling Road, 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. For information, call 239-631-6943 or go to coastalperuvian.com.

Note: My photos are not showing up correctly. This is a problem with Blogger. I can't find a resolution for this. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fish Crazy -Naples' To Go Spot for Delicious Seafood!


Fish Crazy is my "to go " place for delicious seafood of all types, often paired with Oakes Farms fresh produce!  I've eaten there three times in the last few months, and I'll be there again, for one excellent reason-Executive Chef Hector Hidalgo. I follow chefs the way baseball fanatics follow players, and few athletes have batting averages as high has he does. His healthy seafood is so fresh and delicious.
Fish Crazy's has an overall  funky-casual relaxed Key West  ambiance.
 It offers "fine dining" quality seafood with larger portions, and without the high prices or stuffiness. Its  layout has something for everyone, with different areas. It has a full bar (a popular meeting spot),
 a dining room with a Caribbean flair, side dining room,  a fish market, 
an enclosed wine room that's perfect for a group of six or so, and a larger chef's table room that opens onto the bustling kitchen.
 There's a few nautical motifs, calming pastel-painted walls, and little bric-a-brac to distract you from the main attraction-Chef Hector's deliciously prepared seafood. Well... unless you count the bocce court, however if I didn't tell you, you'd probably never know about its existence.
I often make a meal by sharing mostly appetizers and just a few main courses with 4-6 friends at a table. My  ideal dining is to graze, or dine tapas-style, sampling  variety of dishes at a sitting.  Start with some of my favorite apps.  Firecracker shrimp ($9) offers a touch of heat without fire. Fresh Gulf shrimp are lightly dusted with rice flour, fried, and tossed with a hint of sriracha in the sauce.
A squeeze of the cheesecloth covered lemon, and you're set! Some compare this to the bang bang shrimp dish at Bonefish Grill-this has them beat.  Why rice flour? It makes the dish gluten free. Chef Hector has already anticipated those with gluten sensitivity, and has completely replaced wheat flour with rice flour. Outside of the improvement, you'll not notice. Highly Recommended. 

Coconut shrimp ($12) (NOT the full order pictured below) are a delight at Fish Crazy, whereas at other places they are reheated frozen finger food, with more breading than meat.  Fish Crazy is light on the rice flour breading, generous with the shredded coconut, and the shrimp are fresh and of good size. The citrus marmalade dipping sauce is a keeper, with candied orange peel and a good touch of heat. Recommended!
Smoked fish dip ($9) is a medley of white fish served with crackers. You may want to buy a pound of this to take home later!

Seafood gumbo ($8/6  bowl/cup) is full of fish and flavor-pretty close to what some would expect in New Orleans, just not as peppery hot. That's a good thing for non-Cajun palates. It's a combination of fresh seafood, Andouille sausage, okra, celery, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes, simmered with Cajun seasoning and topped with rice and  a chunk of baguette.

More New England style for you? The Florida clam chowder is just as creamy, with lots of clams, bits of potato and light seasoning. ($7/5 bowl/cup)

Keep your eyes open for other daily specials that pop up, especially the amazing crab dip with Brie, Montego and Gouda cheeses, or the ambrosia-like conch and clam chowder.

Ok, time for my favorite main courses.
Miso-glazed sea bass tops the list!  this generous portion of tender sea bass with Napa cabbage and a crisp seaweed slaw ($32) beats my prior favorite- miso Chilean sea bass at USS Nemo's by a hair, er, fin! You may find yourself I scooping up every drop of the miso sauce. Highly Recommended. 
Shrimp & grits ($15) , Chef Hector's style, features sautéed Gulf shrimp, hearty chunks of chorizo, mushrooms and scallions, served atop whipped goat cheese grits. Delicious! These are the authentic grits that take 45" to make, not the "5 minute" watery grits you'll find elsewhere. Recommended.
New England sea scallops ($28) are a must have, either the standard way with asparagus and roasted oyster mushrooms in a light Grand Marnier sauce, or the special-with just sprouted quinoa and baby arugula citrus dressing and  brown-black olives-I'll take your olives if you don't want them!  Hector knows how to sear your scallops, with a touch of rice flour to keep it gluten free.
You can't go wrong with Norwegian Salmon ($25), pan-roasted with bok choy and shiitake mushrooms  The salmon arrives tender, with a crisp crust and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Recommended.
Hogfish is a local delight that's not commonly seen in restaurants. Same goes for tripletail, pompano and others from  Florida waters. Hector's hogfish also comes with your choice of fried, sautéed or blackened. Go for it-the blackened style isn't too spicy!
One special that I hope goes on the regular menu is the "Caribbean cioppino", with a lobster tail, shrimp large scallops, and fish with crisp banboo shoots, red pepper strips, and a wonderful  ginger-laced  coconut cream base, with jasmine rice. The seafood was properly cooked and oh-so tender. The portion was so large I took part of it home!  Highly Recommended!
Save room for desserts. There are regulars, like Randy's nationally renowned Key lime pie, Hector's various rich flans, and special cakes and pies.

Some history for you. Randy Essig and his business partner Tony created Randy's Fishmarket perhaps a dozen years ago and ran it  until 2015, when they started Fish Crazy. They have NO relationship with Randy's Fishmarket anymore-that's now run by a lawyer. The best cooks followed them to Fish Crazy. Let's just say that outside of the walls, "Randy's  Fishmarket has little of what it used to be. If you liked Randy's, then Fish Crazy is the only "true" Randy's...Randy Essig just moved its culinary essence to a better setting.   Chef Hector was the Executive chef at Randy's until 2 years ago, when he started the popular La Pinata Restaurant. He is now Executive Chef at Fish Crazy. Manager James Miller is easy to spot as he makes the rounds; he is your go to person for compliments, questions or suggestions.

Fish Crazy, 14700 Tamiami Trail North,  Naples, FL (239) 260-1070  http://www.fishcrazyrestaurant.com/

Randy and Chef Hector