2017-05-18 / Cuisine


JD’s Bistro and Grille
1951 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte,
255-0994, jdsbistroandgrille.com

A two-page martini menu and nightly live jazz recall bygone days. JD’s excels at gourmet dining and unrivaled ambience, the latter conveyed in a moody interior that just may be the best date night destination off the water and on the trail. Dinners enjoy a leisurely pace in a jazz club setting. Appetizers cover the realm from shrimp and grits, oysters Rockefeller and on the half-shell, seafood ceviche and the chef’s cheese plate with nuts, blueberries and house-made red roasted pepper jam. Thick pork belly bacon stars alongside seared U-10 scallops, a dish served with Asian slaw and a side of shallot celeriac puree and a deep-fried squash bloom. Two thick 6-ounce sirloin slices are served with gorgonzola mashed potatoes, asparagus spears and a rich porcini demi glaze. Unlike many restaurants, JD’s makes its own desserts, among them chocolate bread pudding, apple crisp, crème brûlée and layered chocolate mousse cake.

Reviewed August 2016

Farlow’s on the Water
2080 McCall Road, Englewood,
474-5343, farlowsonthewater.com

She’s a little bit Kentucky; he’s a little bit St. Croix and the combination is a palate-pleasing experience at Keith and Laurie Farlow’s popular restaurant. Mr. Farlow brings knowledge of fresh fish, seafood, authentic island cuisine and rum while Mrs. F is an expert on southern cooking (think shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, corn pudding, the signature Kentucky hot brown and bourbon). It’s wise to peruse the daily catch menu before deciding on drinks or apps. Farlow’s wild-caught fish – often grouper, hogfish, tripletail, cobia and snapper – sells quickly. Recent menu introductions include tuna nachos with quinoa and chia chips; jumbo Caribbean chicken wings; the Virgin Island-style beef paté of seasoned beef in homemade dough; and a cheeseboard offering assorted cheeses, grapes, raspberries, homemade crackers and local fresh honeycomb. Dine under the patio’s vine-wrapped trellis and twinkling lights and start with a specialty cocktail, dark ‘n’ stormy or white sangria flavored with a touch of St. Germain elderberry liqueur. Snapper is prepared island style, sprinkled with fresh herbs from Farlow’s garden and baked with slices of tomato, lemons, red onions and garlic butter. The St. Croix seafood pie, another house specialty, is generously loaded with shrimp, scallops and clams in layers of homemade puff pastry and topped with creamy white wine lobster sauce. The tiramisu and guava cheesecake are Farlow’s most popular desserts. The Kentucky chocolate pecan pie pairs well with the restaurant’s selection of bourbons and whiskeys.

Reviewed September 2016

DaVinci Pizza & Restaurant
18101 Murdock Circle, Murdock,

The restaurant opened in early 2016 near the Charlotte Town Center and offers pizza, heroes, baked and classic pastas as well as chicken, veal and seafood dishes. DaVinci doesn’t serve alcohol; however, guests can bring their own. Appetizers run the gamut from homemade meatballs and DaVinci style chicken wings to Littleneck baked clams and fried calamari. The mozzarella cheese sticks were heavily battered and oily. The eggplant rollatine appetizer was loaded with cheese-stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella — as was the pasta trio dinner, a sampling of the restaurant’s lasagna, stuffed shells and cheese ravioli. The New Yorker, one of about a dozen gourmet pizzas, has a hearty combination of miniature pepperoni disks and sausage and a generous helping of mushrooms, green peppers and garlic – but just not enough cheese to compensate for the extraordinarily thick crust. DaVinci’s homemade garlic bread is exceptional, the equivalent of a slice of fresh-from-the-oven loaf dipped in garlic-infused olive oil. Desserts include cannolis, tiramisu, cheesecake, a limoncello cake with thick layers of lemony mascarpone filling, and a very chocolatey and sublime chocolate cake.

Reviewed October 2016 ¦

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