2012-03-15 / Cuisine

PAST REPASTS


At Bella Napoli, you can even buy a jar of mom’s homemade sauce for home cooking. At Bella Napoli, you can even buy a jar of mom’s homemade sauce for home cooking. Here are some capsule summaries of previous restaurant reviews:

. Alli-Gators Florida Grill & Bar, 1441 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte; 624- 0067.

With a wide-ranging menu and sports bar vibe, Alli-Gators is sort of like a TGI Friday’s or Miller’s Ale House … but not. The food has a decidedly regional bent, with lots of seafood and tropical flavors, and the three-dimensional alligator sculptures on the walls certainly aren’t the trappings of your neighborhood corporate Applebee’s. Prices are family friendly, another big attraction. Even if you’re not a chicken wing fan, Alli- Gators’ are noteworthy. They are bigger and meatier than most restaurant wings, the meat was super-moist and the skin good and crisp. A dozen sauces provide something for everyone. Fish choices can be grilled, broiled, fried, blackened, bronzed or jerked, and you can order 6- or 12-ounce portions, which is very considerate of diners’ varying appetites. Our “Caribbean crusted” grouper didn’t have much in the way of spice, but it was perfectly cooked.


Santhinos’ ceviche. Santhinos’ ceviche. Food: . . .
Service: . . . .
Atmosphere: . . .
Reviewed February 2012


. Bella Napoli Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant, 1938 Kings Highway at Kings Crossing Shopping Plaza, Port Charlotte; 764-8000

Bella Napoli delivers authentic Italian cuisine and gourmet pizzas. Main courses include seafood, chicken, veal, pasta, hot and cold subs, calzones and stromboli. We loved the seared veal chop in wine reduction served with carrots, mushrooms, celery, onions, rosemary and garlic. The grouper pizzaiola featured a generous filet sautéed with calamata olives and hand-crushed tomato sauce over penne. Ideal for informal, family-friendly dining Bella Napol is simple, fresh and Italian. You can even take home a jar of owner Sal Aggimenti’s mom’s homemade sauce for $7.95.

Food: . . . .
Service: . . . ½
Atmosphere: . . .
Reviewed May 2010


. Santhinos Restaurant, Cross Trails Center, 615 Cross St., Punta Gorda; 833-0380

A bit out of the limelight of the downtown scene, Santhinos is just a few minutes south on U.S. 41. If you haven’t driven through the Cross Trails Center parking lot, you probably haven’t seen this little gem tucked into the middle of the complex. It doesn’t look like anything special from the outside, but that changes as soon as you enter the tastefully appointed dining room. The menu features a mix of Italian and Peruvian fare. While the Italian menu looked just fine, we were drawn to the spicier, more exotic Peruvian dishes, starting with a lively mixed ceviche. The “small” portion came in a giant martini glass filled with grouper, shrimp, scallops, calamari, corn, onions and a citrusy marinade loaded with garlic, cilantro and pepper. Giant mussels on the half shell (choritos a la chalaca) were also delicious, topped with corn, spices, lemon, red peppers and olive oil. Camarones inti consisted of 10 large shrimp in a creamy sauce of Peruvian yellow peppers and coconut milk. And a N.Y. strip steak topped with shrimp, scallops and a garlic-wine sauce, proved a delightful melding of surf and turf. One generous wedge of butternut flan made for a perfect ending to the meal. Beer and wine served.


Chaang Thai also offers delicately-cooked mussels. Chaang Thai also offers delicately-cooked mussels. Food: . . . .
Service: . . . .
Atmosphere: . . . .
Reviewed October 2009


. Chaang Thai, 1900 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte; 743-6200

Chaang Thai, tucked into a little shopping center in Port Charlotte, isn’t flashy but it’s inviting and neat. Steamed mussels in Thai herbs were meaty and tender. The larp, a concoction of ground chicken, cucumbers, onions, lime juice, lemongrass and toasted rice, contained tender chunks of ground chicken, lots of onions and cucumbers and just a dusting of toasted rice.

The volcano shrimp had lots of shrimp and veggies in a sweet-hot sauce. We specified how much heat we wanted in each dish and that’s exactly how they were prepared.

The Pad Thai had enough spice to complement this somewhat sweet dish. The red curry was a favorite, with fresh vegetables and creamy coconut milk balancing the heat and enhancing the seasonings. The fried bananas were creamy and ripe.

Everything was served hot and fresh and the servers kept a close eye on us and were quick to be of service

Food:. . . ½
Service:. . . ½
Atmosphere: . . . ½
Reviewed May 2010


. Ice House Pub, 408 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda; 575-0866

The building alone, a two-story structure that dates back to the 1890s, is worth the visit alone. Then add in the wealth of beers and the camaraderie of this Britishstyle establishment and you’ve got a popular pub in the midst of downtown. There’s an excellent assortment of beers, an intriguing selection of South African wines and an impressive number of dartboards. The menu leans toward fried and meaty, although salads are available, too. A massive plate of fried pickles was enough for four of us to share. The steak sandwich had a generous amount of lean meat and an ample application of the slightly spicy peppers and mushrooms. A copious amount of fries — aka chips — came with the sandwich and were good with malt vinegar. Full bar.

Food: . . .
Service: . . . ½
Atmosphere: . . . .
Reviewed December 2009


. River City Grill, 131 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda; 639-9080

Both sophisticated and casual, River City Grill is a perennial favorite offering a mix of comfort and creative dishes that ensures everyone can find something that suits them.

Southern seafood chowder was thick and creamy — full of potatoes, bacon, corn and shrimp. Seared ahi tuna was deftly cooked and artfully arranged, accompanied by a gingery soy-sesame drizzle, stripes of searing srirachi sauce and mounds of pickled ginger and wasabi. Mild butterfish pan-seared with a sweet mango glaze was delicious, and a platter of barbecued ribs and chicken demonstrated that the “grill” in the restaurant’s name isn’t a fluke. Full bar.

Food: . . . .
Service: . . . ½
Atmosphere: . . . .
Reviewed August 2009


. Trattoria Limoncello, 10361 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda, 639-6500

The Iebba family has been serving Italian trattoria fare since 2006, with familyfriendly dining and old world recipes.

The generous and hot antipasto caldo appetizer has baked stuffed tomato, eggplant rollatine, shrimp and clams casino and a stuffed mushroom. Soups are homemade daily. The veal Limoncello medallions were cooked perfectly and served with a unique sweet-tangy sauce. The perfectly broiled Chilean bass filet was served in a seasoned sauce of white wine, butter and garlic. Pizzas and calzones and casual fare are available. Desserts such as custardy panna cotta and tartufo, cappuccino ice cream in a chocolate shell were served with a house-made limoncello cordial, the restaurant’s namesake.

Ninety Italian wines are on the list and outdoor dining is available.

Food: . . . .
Service: . . . .
Atmosphere: . . . .
Reviewed August 2010


. Village Fish Market Restaurant & Lounge, Fisherman’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade J 36, Punta Gorda; 639-7959

A representative pairing of the restaurant’s New England-meets-Florida menu, our appetizers of Ipswich clams and smoked mullet spread started things out promisingly; the heaping helping of oh-so-rich clam bellies was accompanied by some of the best cornbread I’ve tasted in ages. Don’t miss it. The menu offers an admirable range of seafood and meat with full and half portions that allow diners to cater to their own appetites as well as budgets. The grilled sirloin was perfectly cooked as ordered, and sides of cole slaw and onion rings hit the right notes. Seafood lovers will find much to choose from and will undoubtedly enjoy the lobster casserole. It was chock-full of big chunks of lobster claw meat as well as cocktailsize shrimp and delicate bay scallops. Our only complaint was a rather blasé server, but we can forgive a lot when a place has a waterfront view like this.

Food: . . . ½
Service: . .
Atmosphere: . . . .
Reviewed March 2011


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