5047 U.S. 41 E., Naples, FL
If you go: O.B.’s Cornerstone
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday
Cuisine: Typical bar appetizers, sandwiches, flat bread pizza and dinner menu of baby back ribs, grilled chicken and strip steaks.
Atmosphere: A neighborhood bar featuring pool tables, video games and big screen TVs. The patio area is nice for cooler nights.
Service: Lacking to say the least
Prices: Reasonable. Most appetizers are $6.95 or $7.95, with 20 jumbo wings topping the selections at $15.95; sandwiches are $4.95 to $9.95, flatbread pizzas are $4.95 (small) to $11.95 (large); dinner entrees are $8.95 to $17.95; kid’s meals are $2.95 to $4.95.
Recommended dishes: Baby back ribs
NAPLES — When you walk into O.B.’s Cornerstone, in East Naples, the theme song to “Cheers” should play.
Nobody knew my name, but I got the impression that most did at this neighborhood bar and grill.
The quiet, tucked-away restaurant doesn’t rely on neon signs or big banners to attract customers. If you didn’t know it existed, it’s doubtful you ever would. And with possible justification: O.B.’s Cornerstone doesn’t offer much to attract diners outside its stellar baby back ribs. Or perhaps a cozy bar stool.
The menu claims ribs are only served from 4 to 8 p.m., but on one lazy Saturday afternoon, I enjoyed a slab. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and moist. And for a limited time, ribs are on special: half-rack ($6.95) or full rack ($10.95) for a savings of $2 each.
Be prepared, however: The ribs may be the only edible thing on the plate. Choices are cole slaw, apple sauce, French fries, vegetable of the day or baked beans. I tried the cole slaw, which was bland; my French fries were cold and old (when there was no reason for it because the restaurant was empty); the vegetable of the day was overcooked, mushy carrots; and the baked beans reminded me of VanCamp’s, from the can.
But who eats the sides with a plate of ribs as good as these?
For those who don’t like ribs, the 6-ounce New York strip steak open face sandwich ($9.95) would be a decent alternative. It had a good flavor, but was a little tough and a bit dry: It lacked the juices normally found in a sandwich. The presentation would also benefit from a little parsley on the plate to jazz it up.
Another selection on the menu was flatbread pizza, which comes in 6 by 6 or 14 by 14 squares with topping choices of cheese, pepperoni, Italian sausage or deluxe (pepperoni, sausage, mushroom and red onions). To me, the pizza fell short of even brand-name frozen pizza standards.
But it may be a solid choice for those restaurant-goers who prefer a bar stool and a beer.
Retreating to appetizers, I sampled two — the bacon wrapped shrimp ($9.95) and the jalapeno shrimp jammers ($7.95). The former was tough and overcooked to the point at which the shrimp was rock-hard. My first sample nearly became a choking hazard when I discovered the tail was still on the shrimp.
The latter was a surprising combination. Expecting a spicy jalapeno stuffed with cheese and shrimp, close to a traditional jalapeno popper, I was taken back when I saw that the dish actually was tail-on shrimp with a coating of cheese with bits of jalapeno molded around it, then breaded and deep-fried. The cheese cooled the heat from the jalapeños so all can enjoy it; in total, it’s not a hot dish.
For the kids, the menu selections are the typical bar fare of hot dog ($2.95), grilled cheese ($2.95), two-piece chicken tenders ($4.95), quarter-pound hamburger ($3.95; with cheese, $4.25) and cheese pizza ($3.95). For my youngsters, I ordered chicken tenders, which are actually closer to planks of chicken, with the larger one measuring 2½ inches wide by 4 inches long. Fried to crisp, the chicken wasn’t suitable to eat. It amazed me that a restaurant would serve overcooked food, especially to a toddler who doesn’t have a full set of teeth.
With these shortcomings, the ribs are the reason to frequent O.B.’s Cornerstone, which is located where Norm’s used to be in the Village Falls on U. S. 41 East. It would also be a great place for grandparents to bring their visiting teenage grandkids. You could play a game of pool while you wait or watch TV.
And, of course, another reason would be so everyone knows your name.
Naples Daily News reviewers do not accept free meals and visit restaurants anonymously.