Q: We used to frequent Artichoke & Company at Venetian Village, especially on Thursday nights for their bratwursts. Sadly, I went there the other day and they were gone. No notice of relocation. Very disappointed!
— E.W., Naples
A: After operating for 25 years in the Village at Venetian Bay in Naples, Artichoke & Company closed May 31, said Brian Gorman, who was the owner/chef of the delicatessen and catering company for the last 14 years.
“Our customers are calling every day and cannot believe we are no longer there,” Gorman said. “As a matter of fact, my phone rang this morning at 7 from a longtime customer who just came back to town and found out. Wait till the seasonal people come back. I am going to have to set up a separate phone line just to explain.”
Although the retail location has closed, Artichoke & Company’s catering arm is alive and well. The locally owned business, which has had a catering kitchen for more than 10 years, recently set up new offices and a showroom on Rail Head Boulevard off Old 41 Road in North Naples.
“We are going to concentrate our efforts on growing our catering business,” Gorman said. “We do it well, and our customers love our food and service. Our services range from full custom catering, which is the majority of our business, to drop-off meals and everything in between. From grand openings, to weddings to birthday parties, we have catered hundreds of thousands of events, including wine dinners and dinner shows, either private or public.”
Gorman, who has cooked with some of the world’s top chefs during a career that has spanned more than 20 years, has catered events throughout the state and even prepared meals for high-profile people such as President Bill Clinton.
“We also have customers who fly us overseas to be their private caterers,” he said. “I am leaving again Aug. 7 for three weeks or so to go to the south of France, Saint-Tropez, and cater to a private family and their VIP guests they are bringing in.”
Don’t be surprised to eventually see Artichoke & Company reopen its deli elsewhere in the Naples area. Gorman recently was negotiating to purchase the former Amador’s Bistro Italiano, which closed in April, but a mutual deal could not be reached.
“I felt we could do very well in the location, but we all know how tough the restaurant business can be. So, going in, things have to be right from the business side,” he said.
Until he can find the right place to open a new retail location, Gorman said he will greatly miss his deli customers and he knows his regular patrons will miss his unique deli sandwiches and salads.
“The people that shopped with us at Artichoke and Company are some of the world’s greatest, and we love and thank them all,” he said.
A taste of Pino’s Pizzeria
Q: At the beginning of the year, there was a pizzeria that opened in Bonita called A Taste of Brooklyn in Suite 100 in the Publix Plaza near Pelican Landing. Now I understand it’s called Pino’s Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen. New owners? I hope not — they have delicious food!
— Steve Shelton, Estero
A: Joe and Linda Russo, the owners of Pino’s Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen, are the same folks who opened A Taste of Brooklyn earlier this year, but they changed the name of their restaurant a few weeks ago because customers were confusing it with another Bonita Springs restaurant that opened last summer in the Bay Crossings Plaza, less than two miles away on U.S. 41 South.
“We had to change the name because there is a place called the Brooklyn Oven about a mile away,” said Joe Russo. “People were calling him and trying to pick up pizza from me and vice versa.”
So, then, who is Pino?
“Pino is slang for Joe. It’s an Italian thing,” Joe Russo said. “I’m Sicilian. We have a lot of Joes.”
Regardless of the name, Pino’s continues to serve the same Brooklyn-style, thin-crust pizza.
“Judge me by the food and the atmosphere instead of the name,” Russo said. “Right away they’ll know we are from New York.”
Pino’s Pizzeria, 24600 U.S. 41 S., is located in the former home of Frankie & Johnny’s at the southern end of the Shoppes at Pelican Landing.
More local restaurant news
■ ViVi Ristorante, which opened in 2009 at Coastland Center mall in Naples, permanently closed last week.
■ Capt. Marcos Seafood & More, 1716 Airport-Pulling Road S., opened last weekend in the former East Naples location of Mister Five and the White House restaurants. The newly renovated place will be a Cuban-American restaurant specializing in fresh fish.
“You’ll be able to choose from raw fish on display on ice. I haven’t seen this in Naples,” said Marcos Soto, who owns and operates the family restaurant with his wife, Laura. The Sotos previously owned and successfully operated the local Marco’s Cuban Cafés and Marcos Cuban Cuisine, now El Morro.
■ Dunkin’ Donuts plans to open shop at 4800 Golden Gate Parkway, the former Golden Gate location of Saltwater Cowboys Raw Bar & Grill. Gulf Coast Donuts LLC purchased that property last week, but a target opening date has not been set. The local Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee first will open its new Marco Island location in September in Town Center mall, said spokeswoman Myriam Rojas.
■ Taco Bell opened its new East Naples location July 11 at 4201 U.S. 41 E., the former Bank of America branch location. The night before opening its colorful new restaurant on that Lakewood Boulevard corner, Taco Bell closed its longtime East Trail location about two miles away at 2224 U.S. 41 E.
No plans have been made yet for the vacated building, which is across from Coral Cay Adventure Golf.
■ Golden Leaf Chinese Restaurant, 3615 U.S. 41 N., Naples, has new owners. As of June 1, the Naples restaurant is co-owned by Gilbert Moo and Alan Lam. Lam, also the new chef, was the former chef at China Tokyo, which closed March 31 in Pine Ridge Crossing shopping center. He also was the chef at Shing Long Gourmet Chinese Restaurant, which previously occupied Golden Leaf’s Park Shore Center location, Moo said. The Golden Leaf name remains, but menu items have changed. The restaurant is open 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day.
■ Jana’s Little Prague Restaurant, which opened July 4 at 289 Ninth St. S., in downtown Naples, has new extended hours and days of operation. The new Czech restaurant is open for lunch and dinner noon to 10 p.m. weekdays — except Tuesday, when it is closed.
The locally owned restaurant is open only for dinner on weekends, 5 to 10 p.m. WiFi now is available at the restaurant as well.
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