If you go
Where: 2500 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 1100, North Naples
Hours: Noon to 3 p.m., lunch;5 p.m. dinner; 4 p.m. to close in lounge
Information: (239) 596-5600 or www.latitudenaples.com
Latitude, a new local entry in smart casual dining featuring Florida fusion cuisine, boasts that it has “the right attitude.”
Occupying the former space of Café Italia in the Naples Walk shopping center, the restaurant is poised for success, judging at least by the strong turnout of loyal followers and new local patrons, according to Chef Ross A. Peterson.
Seating 300 indoors in spacious dining and lounge areas, the dark redwood walls are decorated with artwork from local artists. Opt for table or booth seating with hardwood tables or al fresco dining on the patio large enough to seat 30 diners.
Peterson hails from Hawaii and relocated to our area in 1998. He honed his skills working in well known restaurants like Syrah, Roy’s and Trilogy, did some private chef work and operated his own catering company, Global Chef Service, that is still in operation.
After teaming up with partners Marc and Britta Schulze and David Ogilvie, with a vision for the cuisine established and location finalized, Latitude opened in mid-April.
The timing affords the restaurant staff time to work out the kinks and become “a well-oiled machine” as Peterson said, before the next season.
“We make everything from scratch — we don’t open a bag and serve it to people. I am here at 9 a.m. every day making fresh demi-glace and the dough for our flatbreads,” said Peterson. “We do it all for the love of the food. It’s a passion.”
Lunch is served noon to 3 p.m. The lounge happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m. with half-priced wells, beer and house wines. Munch on items such as the flatbread pizza cooked on a wood-burning stove. Choose from Margarita, Portobello and goat cheese or tenderloin and spinach ($6 to $8) or try the crispy chicken wings with wicked sauce and gorgonzola ($9).
Dinner starts at 5 p.m. Enjoy starters such as pecan-dusted soft shell crab with sourdough French toast and maple butter ($12), then order dishes like truffle salt grilled filet mignon with horseradish and tomato fondue ($28) or Jasmine’s Asian flounder Francaise with roast garlic lemon soy butter ($19).
A selection of pasta dishes is also available, including roasted Rasta chicken linguini pasta with roast mixed peppers and house pesto ($17) or the better than Nana’s Kobe beef Bolognese ($18).
Peterson said customer favorites are the Mt. Fuji grilled Mahi Mahi and the Hawaiian hi tuna poke tower with seaweed salad ($12).
Outside catering is available with a customized catering menu, as is a private dining room that can accommodate 50 persons. Future plans are to build up the banquet room service.
“We try to cater not only to tourists but also locals. Our menus offer a variety of world tastes that are different, but not so different that our patrons don’t want to try them,” said partner Marc Schulze.
“Our menu is best described as Florida fusion cuisine. It has influences from Hawaii, Germany and true American dishes with Asian sauces.”
Schulze explained that in Germany, dinner usually consists of a plate of good sausage and dark rye bread. So, using his German butcher in Port Charlotte, he duplicated the authentic dish that he says makes his German patrons smile when they see it on the menu (old world Charcuterie platter, $12).
The lounge features a piano and a variety of local entertainers, from pianists, duos and bands who perform seven nights a week (6 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 7 to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday).
Patrons can choose to dine or relax in the lounge with a popular light bites menu, sip their favorite libation and enjoy music from relaxing piano tunes to a four-piece band.
“We mix up the music, and there is something for everyone,” Peterson said. “We purposely opened in summer to serve local customers and to get ready for the upcoming season. We are looking forward to serving everyone,” said Peterson.