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From a small tortilla in Golden Gate, to dining beachside on Marco Island, great food can be found everywhere in Southwest Florida; and that’s why I love what I do.

This Saturday night found me at Sale e Pepe, inside the Marco Beach Ocean Resort. There was a wedding reception going on next to us, so we also had an unexpected floor show filled with speeches, music and celebration.

I started off with the Caprese salad ($16) – Florida heirloom tomatoes, DOP (protected designation of origin -- certification that ensures that products are locally grown and packaged) buffalo mozzarella and topped with an olive oil crisp.

This salad was a work of art; but featured too much cheese and not enough tomatoes for my taste. Noteworthy here: too much cheese is hardly a powerful complaint.  

My partner in dine had the autunnale salad ($15) – mesclun greens, honeycrisp apple, gorgonzola dolce, walnuts and saba (an ancient Roman-times condiment, the result of cooking grape musts over fire; the main ingredient in traditional balsamic). Fresh, light and full of flavor.

For his main dish, he picked the Georges Bank halibut ($48) with “schiacciata” (a word typically used to describe Tuscan flatbread) potato, Chanterelle (a type of mushroom) cream and a lemongrass basil emulsion.

The fish was cooked to perfect, with a golden outer layer and tender inner layer and was accented perfectly with the emulsion and other compliments.

For my entrée, I chose the 12-ounce black angus ribeye ($50) and added an Anson Mills (see ansonmills.com, it’s far too complicated to get into here) polenta featuring Hen of the Woods mushrooms ($16); you know, the ones that grow at the base of trees.  

The ribeye was cooked to perfection; the kind of taste that doesn’t have you looking for a steak sauce or ketchup. The mushrooms were the highlight of the polenta; which had a very natural flavor.

For dessert we shared a bonet ($12), a traditional Piedmont cake featuring Tahitian vanilla cremoso.

The name bonet, means hat, which you may have guessed. The dish is a cross between creme caramel, blancmange and chocolate pudding, and it has been prepared in Piedmont for centuries – the mould is supposed to resemble a cook’s hat.

The dessert was amazing and all the sweet surprises that surround the bonet will leave you wanting more.

Sale e Pepe, is the perfect spot for an evening of fine dining or to celebrate something special.

More: ‘Watts for Dinner’: Red Rooster is something to crow about

More: Looking for a place to eat on Marco Island?

This newspaper pays for all meals related to dining reviews. We do not solicit or accept free food.

If you go

Sale e Pepe

  • In the beach pavillion behind the Marco Beach Ocean Resort
  • 480 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island
  • 239- 393-1600
  • sale-e-pepe.com
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