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Oct 6, 2009 10:30 AM

Naples Area -Restaurant recommendations during Christmas-New Years holidays

I will be traveling with my two teenagers during the Christmas-New Years holiday period to Ritz Carlton (Beach location) Naples for six nights. Our interests are:
1) We all generally like medium to upscale restaurants for dinner. Fun/Casual places for lunches. Examples of restaurants we have dined at that we like would be Barton G , Prime 112 in Miami area for dinner
2) We do NOT want any chains where we have already dined at:. (such as Tommy Bahama's, Cheesecake Factory, Flemings, Brio, etc.).
3) Do NOT want to drive more than 30-45 minutes from the Ritz. The closer, the better.
4)We like generally more contemporary restaurants although not opposed to more established/older restaurants if the quality is there.
My questions:

a)Italian: (Campiello's or others?)
b)Steak (Chops City Grille, Preston's, Strip House or others)?
c)Seafood (USS Nemo or Trulucks or others)?
d)Mexican/and or any other outstanding ethnic restaurant?
e)Lunch (again, fun and casual-such as a Mel's)?
f) Christmas DINNER-Comments on the Ritz buffet or any other dinner location?
g)Breakfast-Reasonably priced, casual places?
h)Any restaurants that you would definitely get reservations well in advance during the holiday time?


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  1. Campiello will be good for you but not necessarily entertaining for the teens unless they want to see seniors trying to hook-up all evening. Food is good but the patio is reserved for the Cougar set.

    I'm going to suggest one evening walking up the beach to the Turtle Club. Have the Ritz Concierge make reservations for you now. Sunset with sand in your toes. Lovely.

    I wouldn't dismiss Tommy Bahama. The one in Naples is the original and the others aren't as fun or good. It has the perfect Naples tourist vibe and really shouldn't be missed if you have kids along.

    You will be able to count on the Ritz concierge to get you tables in town for Christmas week. Last year it was dead but it usually is not.

    3 Replies
    1. re: LilMsFoodie

      What is feeling about Cafe Lurcat, M Waterford Grille and Mira Mare? How would you rank them as far as quality of the food, atmosphere, etc.?

      1. re: Property manager

        Cafe Lurcat has one of the prettiest rooms in Naples with Chagal like murals on the ceiling and stunning lighting coming though quartz pedestals, etc. I have loved their food in the past but I have not been since last winter, so I will not comment.

        I love M Waterfront Grille. I have had a great and amusing lunch there and a nice dinner with friends. Being in Venetian Village it has water views and is popular. It was a welcome change to its predecesor in the same place. Here is what I wrote this past May:

        I have not been to Mira Mare.

      2. re: LilMsFoodie

        Thanks again. i have finalized my list:
        1) Bha Bha
        2) M Waterfront Grille
        3) Angelina
        4) Capital Grille
        5) Chops (downtown)
        6) Cafe Lurcat

        I think this is the right mix for what we are looking for.

        Again, thanks for your help.

      3. Thanks for your reply.

        We will try Tommy's. We have been two two others but would be a good lunch spot. Any thoughts on Angelina's? Also any thoughts regarding suggestions for steak (how about the Keg and how it compares to the others mentioned in my post) as well as my others (mexican, lunches, christmas dinner)?

        8 Replies
        1. re: Property manager

          There's no shortage of independent places or good chains in your 45" radius.

          Inca's Kitchen has Peruvian food that's the equal of any top restaurant, for under $18, as they are east on 951, with lesser rent. This is a must visit for dinner.
          IM Tapas is great for Spanish tapas and wines-dinner.
          Bha Bha's has good Persian-lunhc or dinner.
          Ridgeways has good food and entertainment l&d.

          I favor USS Nemo and top Escargot 41 over Trulucks for fish. I enjoy Bay House, Turtle Club, M Waterfront, Sea Salt to name a few. Randy's is funky with retro atmosphere

          Prestons has better steaks than Strip house-a chain. The Keg is a lesser priced steak chain, I've enjoyed Capital Grill, and McCormick's and Schmicks, chains who have very good quality. I've not been impressed with Andre's. If your kids are carnivores like me, funky Martin Fierro is a cook-smokey authentic Uruguayan/Argentina grilled meats with huge portions and small prices.

          Have dinner and a movie at Naples Mercato, with 9 spots to dine.

          Breakfasts-Chrissy's was my spot, I haven't been to the spot on 41. I like Falafel Grill for a healthy lunch, or Tommy B's. Campiello is good, but a 60-70' year old's meat market, always packed like Outback!.

          In Bonita, A Table Apart , small Big Hickory on the bay, funky Flippers, and upacale Angelinas' are good. North Naples casual Two Brothers Baci has a friendly staff and NY Style Italian food wiht free live entertinment nightly. Check out spots with entertainment as time draws closer.

          Christmas dinner- see what Ritz, Naples Beach Hotel, and others are offeriing.

          Check out prices, photos, ambiance and cusine on dives to high end spots at:


          The list of restaurants is on the top left.

          1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

            About 3 weeks ago we ate at Campiello and saw NO ONE at Sea Salt. Our server said a friend worked there and they haven't been paying rent for a few months. Have you heard anymore? That is heavy competition they are facing with Campiello, Handsome Harry's and Tommy Bahama.

            1. re: LilMsFoodie

              Sea Salt, the elegant newcomer, is outgunned by the popular trio you mentioned. who've been around for years, written up in every guidebook read by tourists. They definitely have fewer people there. Sea Salt doesn't fill your plate high with food as the others. It offers reasomable European portons of very well prepared foods. I've eaten there 3x, and had only top quality food and service. There was a period months ago with staffing problems- they have since changed staff and worked it out. Naples is funny, Campiello loving folks won't even walk 50 feet to try Sea Salt,, because all their drinking buddies are at Campiellos, which is a major pick up spot. .

              Is Sea Salt high quality for the prices? I think it's very good to excellent, especially if you like to sample food tidbits with your tablemates. I like to have a sommelier suggest wine pairings, and theirs is tops. Esquire Magazine is featuring them in the November issue as one of the top 25 new restaurants in the USA. That's not easy to earn.

              Doew that accolade put diners at their tables? No, as most people go in the paths made by others before them, to Campiello and the other two. Fine quality is not the magnet for many diners in Naples, who are drawn to the 2 for one specials abounding this summer at numerous other spots. Locals don't often drive to 3rd Street, to support places like Sea Salt.

              Cin Cin in Fort Myers had a similar problem. They had food way better than Prawnbroker, however few left Prawnbroker to try Cin Cin, just a stone crab claw's toss away. It' could take Sea Salt a couple years to get more of a base, I hope they can flourish against the competition with the big 3, till then.

              1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                thanks for your comments. We were going to eat at Sea Salt that day but I do not like to be the only table in a restaurant. There was no one at the bar either. Will brave it alone if necessary the next time. I was there once when they first opened and liked it very much but I just had drinks and appetizers before dinner at HH's which I don't particularly care for.

                The Prawnbroker is the nursing home of restaurants. I made a joke about oxygen machines once as someone asked us to meet them there at the bar. Everyone laughed when they saw three of them parked by the door to the bar. The restaurant is ok but that is all.

              2. re: LilMsFoodie

                To LilMsFoodie- before spreading false rumors, get your facts straight! Sea Salt just won Esquire Magazine's Best New Restaurant of 2009. They have been the most successful restaurant on the street, obviously you are hearing sour grapes from their competition. Owners are veterans in the business, and food is comparable to what you will find in big cities. I dine there often, and always a culinary treat! If you are truly a "foodie" how can you say there is heavy competition from neighboring restaurants servicing Sysco frozen foods? Try it for yourself, you wont be disappointed!!!

                1. re: trippeer62

                  not spreading rumours at all, if there are NO customers at a restaurant when the others are busy on a Saturday that hardly shows them to be successful at this point. You obviously don't get it. Restaurants can get awards like those from Esquire but that will do nothing to stop a restaurant from going under. The best restaurant in Fort Myers closed this summer due to lack of business after making all the right decisions (CinCin) and before it, Harold's had to close for lack of traffic. The Esquire award was already mentioned by Insatiable. As for my integrity in posting here, I think I've been here long enough that people respect my opinion even when it is contrary to theirs.

                  As for your Sysco comment, you are entirely off base. Since this your first post here I'm going to make a guess that you have some sort of vested interest in the restaurant. If you do work for this restaurant, know that your comments above will hurt not help your cause.

                  We have many restaurant managers and owners who come to Chowhound to explain menus, policies, and join in the discussion. Why don't you disclose who you might be.

                  1. re: trippeer62


                    Solid points. Of course it's a bit of sour grapes, coming from from the old guard competition.

                    Handsome Harry's, Outback, and McD's at times may have more folks than Sea Salt, and that' doesn't make me want to stand on line there, either. It just leaves my guests and me quieter dining and vey attentive service.

                    After a superb multicourse meal at Sea Salt last month at the Chef's table, I complimented Chef Aielli, asked his technique on some dishes, and he then showed me produce and fresh fish from the wide open kitchen. This is not Sysco frozen foods and squeeze bottled sauces, All is made from scratch. The seasonal vegetables are locally grown when possible (I have met the farmers) The fish is wonderful in quality and freshness, with plump flesh, no noticeable scent, and water clear eyes telling me all!

                    I ate at another top new retaurant recently, and my table was only one of two filled. Some looked in , saw just two tables, and left, walking to more well known spots . By the end of the night 20 folks were dining at my little spot, and each raved about the place. I'll write it up in a bit.

                    Naples is a steak and potatoes town, with a smaller percentage of those who appreciate and seek out more cosmopolitan offerings, like Inca's Kitchen, Sea Salt, Escargot 41, some Naples Originals, and my European delights. I just hope that enough people try and enjoy them to keep these independents open.

                    I cringe every time a diner asks for steak "well done" or complains that the fish is "under cooked", and needs to "easily flake", like that served at Absinthe and other spots. Each to their preferences. "Cook fish till it easily flakes" is what tired old cooks and cookbooks said for years-that's overcooked by today's tastes. It removes the fish's tenderness. The same folks at home warm up canned green beans and fry frozen breaded fish sticks. Who am I to say their taste is lesser than mine? Sysco is stocking some produce from a few natural and organic operations, positive change is occurring.

                    LMF, if you find yourself at a place I recommend, and there's few folks inside, don't join the cougars at Campiello. Email me, and I may have a few bright fun friends soon over there to keep you company, and you'll leave, well fed, and smiling! .

                  2. re: LilMsFoodie

                    Sorry you have been given improper information. Third Street offers many excellent restaurant choices, Sea Salt being one of them. I am happy to report that we are enjoying a successful first year and are financially strong. Unfortunately, one of the downsides of being new, the rumor mill runs wild. Please come to enjoy us anytime, and feel free to contact me with any questions you may have 239.434.7258. Thanks, Lili

              3. LilMsFoodie and Insatiable Appetite have covered all the bases for you. I can't really add to their list. Angelinas is probably my favorite restaurant in the area now, with some pastas as authentic as I've had in Italy (bucatini amitriciani, carbonara). I also love Campiello. I like Capital Grille, but if you want to avoid a chain go with Prestons. All their steaks are cooked on charcoal grills out back. I've found the Turtle Club to be a great setting but the food just fair. Another place on the beach for very expensive seafood and great views is Baleen. I had a wonderful meal, but others have felt differently. USS Nemo is good, as is M Waterfront Grill. Chops has good steaks and fusion seafood. If IM Tapas survived summer, be sure to go there for terrific Spanish. For lunch, Tommy B's is always good, as is Grouper and Chips for fried grouper, and the Dock. Other favorites are 2 Brothers Baci, Bay House with beautiful river views, Trulucks, and Escargot 41.

                4 Replies
                1. re: RevrendAndy

                  Thanks for the reply.

                  What do yo see as the difference between Prestons, Capitla Grille and Chops. I heard the location and cosnistancy of the meals is not the best at Prestons. I seem to hear the most favorable comments about Chops-best overall-quality of food, atmosphere, location and service. Your thoughts?

                  Thanks again

                  1. re: Property manager

                    Chops would be the hippest restaurant. Their steaks are fine but I love their seafood, especially the pan seared black grouper with artichoke mushroom risotto and a sauce of hot rock shrimp with white wine, tomatoes, and garlic. They have good salads and apps. For steaks I really prefer a strict steak house. I've only been to Preston's once and had an excellent meal. Go for the food because their isn't much atmosphere. Capital Grill also has a good combination of bread and circuses. Good salads, excellent steaks, and a lobster mac and cheese to die for. Capital Grill is in North Naples, about 15-20 minutes north of "downtown." Chops is in the heart of the action(at least till about 9:30-no late night action in Naples) on 5th Ave. Preston is just north of 5th.

                    1. re: RevrendAndy

                      that is as good a summary as your are going to get. Listen to the Rev. lmf

                  2. here's my 2 cents:
                    i've eaten twice at Sea Salt and know about the chef and ate his rest in DC rest (when i lived there) when it was considered the best there and i have been disappointed both times here in Naples. once the waiter forgot to "fire up " our entree order and we waited over an hr after the appet for the next course. the second was for a sunday brunch and just didn't pop.
                    i liked Handsome Harry's when it first opened but it expanded too soon and service and quality suffered.
                    Preston's serves the best steak i've ever had. and their choc cake is sublime.

                    my recs:
                    Naples Tomato for their lasagne
                    Bricktops for lunch--very small chain. great food. local hangout.
                    Sunburst for breakfast and lunch. family from Boston. it feels like it should be in a student town. made from scratch and everything i've ever had there was great. make their own muffins (i'm talking double choc or pumpkin or cran-walnut, etc)
                    Abscinthe --i like but is not getting the traffic. its all going to Blue Martini which is not known for its food but partying in the new Mercato area. but check out Mercato for the Italina bistro Piola or the english "Pub". also there is a european style cinema there that has large leather seats, a bar area, lounge and rest. tickets are $15.
                    of course the Ritz is great and i like eating at the Golf resort--Lemonia. i don't rec the upscale Artisan rest at the beach Ritz as the clubby 'The Restaurant" is much better.
                    Strip House--wasn't impressed by it although many are. service is great but the red bordello atmosphere is not my thing.
                    Chops in Bonita is more of a scene than downtown Chops.
                    Janes' Cafe--she has 3 of them and will be opening a more audacious eatery on 5th Ave soon --more of an upscale pub/eatery. her cafe's are great for breakfast and lunch--also fresh ingredients.
                    i like Trulock's over nemo's...just like the atmosphere better and the food is always good.
                    can't go wrong at Campiello's--i know they are cruising but they do it well. discriminating friends from NY liked it.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Zeits

                      Hi Zeits. I'm glad you have posted your opinions. We need some new blood here. I totally agree with the Artisans thing at the Ritz. I like Trulucks. Hounds here don't like it for some reason but I thought it was excellent each time I have been. summer or high season.

                      1. re: Zeits

                        Another great reply. A couple of questions:

                        1) Whar about Angelina's? Do you like Naples Tomatoes over it and why?
                        2) Any opinions on Bha Bha or M Waterfront Grille?
                        3) Other than "the scene" factor is it worth it going to that location vs. the chops downtown? Any difference in the food? We arestaying at the Ritz (ocean) which is closer to downtown location.

                        I appreciate your reply!

                        1. re: Property manager

                          haven't been to Angelina's but friends and co-workers rave about it.

                          Naples Tomato is still good and a they have these great half-price, discounted wine prices.
                          Bha Bha--i go to about once every 5 yrs. its ok. i like the take-out (small eat-in) place just a little down the street (east) called 861 or some number or other that has a CIA trained chef/owner.
                          M Waterfront Grille i also haven't tried yet (only a yr old but i have 3 boys whose diet is pizza and chicken wings)--but LilmsFoodie can give you the lowdown on the chef who came from Cru in Ft Myers when it was considered very good and popular.
                          Chops in bonita is in a typical suburban mall but the rest has these high copper ceilings and seems bustling on some nights. its only 5 min longer to get to than the other one. if you really feel like steak, Capital Grill is 7 min from you and has better service and food than Chops. then you can walk around the Mercato or stop in at Sur La Table.
                          dwntown--past 5th ave is Bleu Provence--very french (and so are its owners). always have a very good meal there. nearby is Bamboo cafe (french/n.african) and it always fall flat for me).
                          a place i've just begun to rec is Food and Thought--for lunch. if you want to know where the Ca. crunchies and tree-huggers hang out, its here. great soups and sandwiches--everything organic and i swear they have about 30 people working for a place that has 10 tables.
                          also like Cote D Azur--near the Ritz--feels like you're in the french countryside (although you're still in ANOTHER american mall).

                          i find most of the comments here reflect good judgement (or rather similar to mine).

                          the lunch spot at the Ritz on the beach is great and go there myself during the wk when i have a day off. i use to get my haircut there too. its a great Ritz. the lady standing next to you may be Mrs. Marriot herself.

                      2. one more place to mention:
                        Ciao--italian, of course, and haven't been there in a while but there is a wine merchant in town, Mike DAllesandro (Naples Wine Warehouse--if you ever feel like getting excellent wines at wholesale prices, plus 10%)--he thinks this is one the best restaurants in town. frankly i think its a place where you need to know what to order there and Ivan (the Insat App) may be able to help out. its not cheap either.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Zeits

                          I'd add new Jolly Cricket on 5th Ave South for a respite. It has good portions of nicely priced food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is operated by Jane Wood, whose Jane's Restaurants have been solid breakfast and lunch spots for locals. The Cricket has British and American foods in a warm setting.

                          Ciao just isn't at the top of many other people's lists. I've been there several times. While Chef/Owner's Gianfranco Loreti's food is certainly good, portions are smaller and prices are a bit too high for portion size, at $28-39. The wines have a high markup. It's better for those on expense accounts, and parties of 8-16 in the smaller dining room for the Chef's personal attention. It was a favorite of drug reps in the past, then they chose Escargot 41, Bistro 821, and even some chains for entertaining clients, as days of excessive spending money tightened up after 2007.

                          I'd rather go to Angelina's, Naples Tomato or Cafe Italia for the money, than Ciao. I like the robust Italian food and free entertinment at the more casual local's delight, Two Brothers Baci.

                          Cafe Lurcat is prettty upstairs, and is better to go for lunch, as dinners go up to $42. Dine upstairs or on the patio.

                          1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                            We have booked all of our restaurants with the exception of one night. Would you go to Angelina's or Truluck's?

                            1. re: Property manager

                              Both fine. Upscale Italian or fresh fish. I'd go with the former.

                              1. re: Property manager

                                Trulucks is currently offering all you can eat stone crabs (mediums) plus 2 sides for $50 on Mondays. i'm not sure why Campiello's gets bashed so much, my group had an excellent dinner there 2 nights ago. In any event, downdown Naples is beautifully decorated at night around Christmas.

                                1. re: Property manager

                                  I'd do Trulucks. They have some unique seafood presentations, great service and walking around Fifth Avenue will be fun at Christmas. The seafood offered changes all the time depending on the quality available. There will be no chinese mahi mahi served here. Truluck's has a great piano bar as well.

                                  Angelina's does do a nice presentation with rabbit, something you do not see here in SW Florida. I have had veal twice and it was a little chewy for me, which is usually the result of too high heat, which doesn't break the connective tissue in veal.

                                  I have not returned since we had a poor dinner last July/August. I'm sure it was just a service problem but we will not book it for medical dinners in the future.

                                  Angelina's is near Coconut Point "lifestyle" center but you will have to drive to it if you want to wander there. Coconut Point is like every other new destination mall. Big Box stores and all the usual suspects for retail. Nothing unique: j crew, sephora, chicos, coach, target, pier 1, etc etc etc.

                                  1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                    Chops is no longer in business in Naples - we ate across the street two nights ago

                                    1. re: Uresolved


                                      I just called Chops in Naples, 262.4677, and Naples Chops says they are alive and well, taking reservations.

                                      1. re: An Insatiable Appetite

                                        I was going to call if you hadn't. There are many in poor shape but Chops shouldn't be one. If is a snowbird favorite. LMF

                                        1. re: LilMsFoodie

                                          it was probably Cork's that was closed.