Capt. Marcos Seafood marks Soto’s restaurant return

Capt. Marcos Seafood & More

Where: 1716 Airport-Pulling Road (across from Home Depot near Davis Boulevard), East Naples

Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; hours will expand in season

Cost: Entrees range from $6.95 to $32.95

Information: (239) 262-1555

Marcos Soto is back doing what he loves to do — talking to people about food. But now he’s doing it at his new restaurant, Capt. Marcos Seafood & More in East Naples. He gained local culinary fans at his former restaurants creating Cuban pork barbecue in the parking lot, and even though he now has a seafood restaurant, he is still barraged by customers with requests for his pork and the other Cuban dishes they loved.

After Soto sold his previous restaurants, he opened a dry cleaning business. But he says he missed the people he encountered in the food business and the special energy of life in a restaurant. Soto created Capt. Marcos Seafood, where he is once again going from table to table, helping people decide what to eat.

The addition of Capt. Marcos Seafood at this location is welcomed by residents in neighboring communities of King’s Lake, Lely and along nearby Radio Road. With just a smattering of restaurants, the area isn’t exactly swimming with dining choices when compared with North Naples or downtown Naples. Soto opened his new restaurant on Airport-Pulling Road near Davis Boulevard across from Home Depot and a few blocks from the courthouse, in a building that has has some restaurant name attached for years; Mister $, before that, the White House.

Capt. Marcos Seafood boasts a modest decor — it’s a seafood place after all, not a swanky resort, but several of the dishes could command a nice evening out. You’ll most often find men, repeat customers dining alone at lunch on seviche and mammoth fish sandwiches, but you’ll also see couples coming in for fried shrimp and taro root fritters before a show or movie. The unusual location works for Capt. Marcos Seafood, because there really isn’t anything like it nearby. It’s very casual place.

We began our meal with Soto’s aforementioned taro root fritters. Everyone has conch or cod fritters, but I had never tried taro root, much less a taro fritter. Taro root is a starchy tuber vegetable not unlike a potato, but has a nutty flavor. What results when you make a fritter out of it is a slightly sweet, succulent beginning to your meal. Not to suggest that taro root fritters are healthful — they are fried, after all — but taro root is high in minerals and vitamins, C, B and E. That should help justify getting your own order of them.

I really loved the remoulade that came with the taro root fritters, house-made and surprisingly, the citrus used in it is orange. I’m over plain old tartar sauce in general, and the sauce that comes with the taro root fritters is a lighter, tastier version of the typical remoulade and a welcome alternative.

The shrimp Creole was high on my wish list to try, because I love spicy food — what a shock to discover that the shrimp Creole at Capt. Marcos Seafood has no heat whatsoever. It’s simply savory, and you can ask for hot sauce to give it a little kick. However, I liked it without the addition of hot sauce, and I would soon discover another dish garnished with the Creole in the whole snapper.

The dramatic whole snapper dish, or other fish depending on the fresh catch, is prepared with the same savory, house-made Creole sauce I had on the shrimp. It’s not always on the menu, so you have to ask for it. (In fact, the best dining experience we had was letting Soto select a few dishes for our table.) The whole fish dish, which sells at market price, is filleted and then served atop the cooked skin of the fish with a helping of the Creole sauce. It’s especially good when eaten with a piece of sweet plantain, rice and beans in the same bite.

The sandwiches at Capt. Marcos Seafood are enormous, and are served with fries or house-made onion rings. The fried shrimp at Capt. Marcos Seafood is no muss, no fuss — butterflied and served with his own cocktail sauce. The crusty bread that accompanies the soup at Capt. Marcos Seafood is served hot and dusted with Parmesan cheese. Capt. Marcos has several kinds of soup on the menu, including homemade clam chowder served with a savory crusty bread.

Another dish for which Soto receives much repeat business is his seviche, and one of his regulars dines there several times a week to have it. This man, whom I saw twice in three days, orders a special entrée size portion of the seviche every time.

Soto is especially passionate about his homemade desserts, including the flan and fried cheesecake. Soto’s enthusiasm was contagious and we couldn’t resist sampling them. No wonder Soto pushed us to try the decadent sweets. Both were divine — melt-in-your-mouth flan and stupid-good cheesecake.

In all, Capt. Marcos Seafood is so new it’s still discovering its identity. Soto plans many changes to the existing menu based on customer demand.

With just 50 seats, for diners with a penchant for seafood it has become a favorite lunch spot after picking up work supplies at Home Depot.

For others, it’s a casual dinner spot.

For some Neapolitans, it may take a while to figure out where Capt. Marcos Seafood fits in their culinary spectrum. And if you’re not looking for the restaurant, it can be easy to miss while barreling down busy Airport-Pulling Road.

Just look for the little blue restaurant and a smiling Marcos Soto waving you through the door.

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