3340 U.S. 41 E., Naples, FL
If you go: Bianchi’s, at Courthouse Shadows
Hours: (Chrissy’s by day) Breakfast, 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; lunch, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; (Bianchi’s by night) dinner 4 to 9 p.m., with special dining options from 4 to 6 p.m.
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean and simple American cuisine.
Atmosphere: Quaint dining room divided into two parts with seating on an outdoor patio. Both can be noisy, especially during peak hours with traffic noise heard on the veranda.
Service: Good, with more attentive servers on weekends
Bar: Beer and wine only
Prices: Breakfast, $3.99 advertised special with most $5.50 to $8.50; lunch, $6 to $9.50; Dinner: appetizers are $6 to $10; entrées are $8 to $18, including salad; pizza, $10 to $12; Breakfast and lunch fare are duplicated from the two other Chrissy’s locations in Naples.
Kid’s menu: No official menu, but children can have the usual selections of spaghetti, chicken fingers, for a reasonable price. The spaghetti was $6 and was a huge serving.
Recommended dishes: Appetizer — Tuscan flatbread, $7; entrées — chicken Bianchi, $14, and 10 oz. New York strip special (varies each night), $18; pizza — Bianchi, $12, and tre formaggi, $10
Verdict: A hit on most dishes tasted. If Bianchi is in the dish’s name, you’re a sure winner.
NAPLES — As day changes into night, the way people dine does too. Early evening diners typically want a lighter fare with smaller portions while late-night diners tend toward elaborate multi-course meals. So how does a restaurant cater to both types? By offering a full menu with multiple options — that’s how Bianchi’s does it.
The name Bianchi may sound familiar, or perhaps her first name, Chrissy, rings a bell or two — maybe three — because Chrissy Bianchi-Rabil and her husband Fadi Rabil own three restaurants in Naples. But Bianchi’s, located across from the courthouse on U.S. 41, is the couple’s evening fare establishment.
The cuisine is moderately priced, for both types of diners. Earlier diners can enjoy a special menu that varies each night. At $19.95 for two, this option is easy on the wallet but fills the belly and satisfies the taste buds. And you get dessert, too. (Only available from 4 to 6 p.m.)
For later evening diners, Bianchi’s full menu boasts a multitude of options. Whether you crave a big bowl of pasta, just pizza or a full entrée, there’s something for everyone.
On a recent evening there, the special was Bianchi’s steak au poivre ($16). The 10-ounce New York strip steak was cooked to perfectly to order, covered in a red brandy reduction and served with roasted potatoes, zucchini and yellow squash. It was tender and juicy, and the steak flavors were nicely complimented by the sauce. Another Bianchi’s special was a smothered New York strip ($16). Covered in caramelized onions and horseradish sauce, it was excellent.
Before diving into an entrée, a Bianchi appetizer will whet your appetite. The Tuscan flatbread ($7) stood out among the choices. The dish comprises marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, oregano, feta cheese with a garlic spread. The pliable but sturdy crust held mounds of toppings, including moist sun-dried tomatoes and topped with a nice blend of herbs. This appetizer could double as an entrée or work for a party of four easily.
A disappointment among the appetizers was the fried calamari ($8). It was bland and tasted too much like flour. Other options include mussels ($8) with fresh, spicy tomato and basil sauce or steamed in garlic and wine; pan seared crab cakes ($8), which is served with a spicy remoulade sauce. For larger parties or bigger appetites, try the antipasti for two ($10), which comes with caprese salad of sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, Italian meats, olives, hummus and shaved Parmigiano.
Main courses are divided into pasta and entrées. For pastas, there is the staple, spaghetti, which is served with marinara ($10), a classic tomato sauce, basil and olive oil; Bolognese ($12), classic meat sauce from veal, pork and beef; and meatball or Italian sausage ($12) and served with marinara. The Bolognese is thick with meat, and had carrots to add a little sweetness to the flavor. All of them please the palates and come with choice of garden salad or Caesar. The meatballs were larger than a tennis ball.
Other pasta options are: fettuccine with chicken, bacon and Gorgonzola ($12). The menu describes it as chicken with chopped bacon, wild mushrooms and onions, sautéed in extra virgin olive oil and garlic, tossed with fettuccine and Gorgonzola cream sauce. The frutti de mare ($18) is spaghetti tossed with shrimp, scallops, calamari and mussels in garlic, white wine and tomato sauce.
One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is the chicken Bianchi ($14), a marinated chicken over sautéed spinach, topped with sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and olives in a lemon-wine sauce. The dish had an abundance of artichokes, and the lemon-wine sauce doesn’t dominate, but blends nicely. But the olives were a bit too sharp for the dish, so my fork just avoided them. Otherwise it was by far the best dish in its class.
Pizza lovers, rejoice! Bianchi’s serves some stellar pies. Start with its namesake, Bianchi ($12), which is a roughly 14-inch pizza topped with mozzarella, pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, peppers and Italian sausage. Vegetarians should try the tre formaggi ($10), a white pizza with mozzarella, Romano and feta cheese — it’s a delight of contrasts, from the chunky feta to the smooth mozzarella.
Diners who are either early eaters or late-night ones with come away from Bianchi’s happily stuffed, and your wallet won’t take a major hit either.
Connect with Leigh Tahirovic at www.naplesnews.com/staff/Leigh-Tahirovic.