4270 Gulf Shore Blvd N, Naples, FL
NAPLES — Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar was the first business to open on the south side of Venetian Village in 1990. It will celebrate a rare milestone in Naples’ hotly competitive restaurant scene, a 20th anniversary, beginning Friday, when it unveils a three-month-long, total renovation.
The restaurant’s 1990’s look has been brought into the 21st century, along with a rethinking of the menu.That extends down to the fixtures in the bathrooms, which have been replaced as part of a new decor meant to evoke a seaside feeling. One accommodation hasn’t changed: Guests can still reach the upstairs dining room and outside bar by the glass elevator or walk up the new, blue-carpeted stairway.
“I designed everything myself and want people to come into the restaurant and feel as if they are entering a seaside cottage, not a place of business,” said Sukie Honeycutt, co-owner of the restaurant. Honeycutt’s partner is Tony Ridgway of Ridgway Bar & Grill and Tony’s Off Third.
“Our goal was to update the restaurant’s interior to give it a clean, current look and to take maximum advantage of the panoramic views of Venetian Bay.”
The space has been re-configured for a more open and spacious floor plan, with seating oriented toward the picture windows so diners can relish the view while they enjoy the food, drinks and entertainment.
According to Honeycutt, the menu changes involved bring the original 1990 menu to 2010. Chef Abel Gonzales has kept popular standards, but expanded its seafood exponentially.
A look at the original 1990 menu shows how dining tastes have changed. Two pasta dishes were offered every day then. In 2010 there is one: fettuccine with the shrimp and lobster in chive-cream sauce.
In 1990 there were four seafood offerings, including fried grouper. The 2010 menu is heavy on seafood — there are at least 10 offerings. None of them is fried.
Besides other seafood entrees, there will be five different fish selections daily that can be grilled, sauteed or blackened and served with five different sauces.
The 2010 menu features a whole Caribbean snapper with fried plantains and black bean-and-corn crab salsa. Still going strong is bouillabaisse— it has been on the menu since 1990.
Some things have come back around: Sauteed calves liver was on the 1990 menu and has returned for 2010. But some things have gone: Roast duck is no longer on the menu. There are quite a few new starters
Much of the dining change is in the accompaniments, which have actually expanded. Rice is gone; instead, there’s sun-dried tomato-and-asparagus risotto. In 1990, angel hair marinara was a side dish; now the offerings are French fries, sweet potato fries, fingerling potatoes, lobster mashed or mashed potatoes, sauteed Swiss chard or sauteed vegetables.
There is even a new chef, Christopher Lay, at the downstairs restaurant, known as the Bar. Lay came to Bayside from the Naples Grande Resort. The menu here will look familiar with some small changes.
The Bar now has pale blue walls and tongue-and-groove distressed wood in contrasting indigo for a comfortable feeling; patrons can linger at the bar itself, with its cobalt blue Avonite bar top. The piano now has its own space, in the corner by the water for easy-listening music.
The acoustic ceiling gives the restaurant good acoustics for the entertainment, planned for five nights a week downstairs and three nights upstairs. But just as important, it will allow diners to be able to enjoy a lively conversation while dining without shouting to be heard or leaning over to listen.
Upstairs, the Grill, is for special occasions. This space now has a lighter and airy feeling with glass panels uniting the room’s separate dining areas. Gone is the coral and in its place is white and blue with slimmer columns.
Through the expansive glass doors is the Upper Deck Bar for a sweeping view of Venetian Bay and an unobstructed view of the Gulf. This is the place for a beer and burger or a relaxing drink.
The restaurant’s telephone number is still 649-5552. It is at 4270 Gulf Shore Blvd. N.
More information and menus are at www.baysideseafoodgrillandbar.com.