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Naples Dining, Improved: A Few Modest Proposals

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

According to Trip Advisor, Naples, Florida is home to 668 eating establishments (true!) which is more per capita than Manhattan, Chicago and New Orleans combined (completely untrue, probably).

For a town of its size and location, most can agree that the culinary offerings are surprisingly diverse and advanced. There's everything from the the requisite Italian joints and upscale steakhouses to the random Persian and Uzbek offerings. This being said, there are some errors and omissions in the local food scene (shout out to the Insurance industry for that phrase) that I would like to see corrected. Without further ado, I present to you:

How To Fix What Probably Ain't Broke: A Guide to Improving The Naples Food Experience

  1. Less Red, More White: It's no secret that Naples probably has more Italian restaurants than most major cities (probably also not true, but there's a lot!), but all if not, almost all lean towards the red sauce vibe of southern Italy. For a resort town, it makes sense. Pretty much everyone can find something to eat from age 1 to 100, it's fairly reasonably priced and it's pretty common to even the most picky eater. What I would like to see is more of the northern Italian/Country Italian vibe, with more white sauces, more variety in vegetables, more interesting meats, etc. I get that everyone likes pizza and marinara, but the delineation between good and great is too thin. Mix it up!

  2. Chewy Chewy Chomp: Speaking of Italian food, there are some decent delis in this town (DeRomo's, Neapolitan Gourmet, etc) but the thing I find most of what I tried lacking is the bread. I want Italian bread that's closer to a baguette than to a dinner roll. I want to bite in and have it chewy and crusty on the outside while soft and tender on the inside. THAT is how you serve a sandwich full of delicious cured meats.

  3. Whine Whine Whine: Naples restaurants need to diversity their wine lists. I get that serving Napa cabs are super popular around here, following by California and Oregon Pinots and while there are some good ones for sure, a huge chunk of them are overpriced and overrated and taste far too close to blackberry jam (especially the cabs). With the exception of the Tulia empire, Amore, Sails and a few others, most of the wine lists are pretty pedestrian and don't really show the breadth of wines from places other than Napa like California's Central Coast (specifically Paso Robles), or Rhones, or pretty much anything from anywhere in Italy. Plus, there are some amazing value wines from these regions that are half the cost and about three times as good...and pair WAY better with deliciousness.

  4. Whine Bar None: Naples needs more wine bars. Full stop. I want to sit at a high table, in a chill bar-like atmosphere, eat deliciously simple small plates and charcuterie, drink wines like referenced in 3. and have a lovely conversation with music that doesn't feature Orleans' "Still The One" or pretty much anything by the Eagles. Oh and no reservations required.

  5. Think Local/Think Creative: I find the most interesting places in Naples to be those trying concepts and vibes you don't normally find here. Look at LowBrow, Lake Park Diner, The Rooster, even Andy Hyde at Hyde and Chic. These places feature chefs who are creating unique dishes with quality ingredients without reinventing the wheel. We need more of that and less of the staid white tablecloth vibe whose food looks great on Instagram but fails to meet the sniff and bite test, especially those type of places who buy all their provisions through a central office. What you'll see happening is that creative local places like those will train the next generations of chefs to be creative in their offerings and the food scene will grow and evolve.

This is all I can think of now, though I'm sure there are more ideas to come. And yes, I am available for consulting, even though I have absolutely no experience doing so.

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I think they should make you head of the restaurant task force in Naples. Also Errors & Omissions is a good album name.

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