Best of May: The top things we ate in SWFL

Will Watts

Summer’s coming – and the heat’s already here – and food wise it’s all about burgers, dogs and barbecue. But first, let’s glance back at the best things we ate in May.

Fin Bistro

The attention to detail in each dish makes all the difference. Take, for example, the Caesar salad: Romaine hearts, garlic croutons (yum!) and creamy Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and an anchovy-infused dressing. The “Bistro Bibb Salad” features the namesake lettuce, radicchio, a warm walnut crusted goat cheese (that looks like a hush puppy in the center of the salad), potato straws and a tangy mustard herb vinaigrette.

The "Bistro Bibb Salad" from Fin Bistro, Marco Island.

Then there’s the “Shellfish Meyer Lemon Brodetto” – with clams (local according to the menu), Key West Rock shrimp, jumbo prawn, calamari and scallops in a white wine tomato lemon broth. Sound good? It was. But that’s not all. Buried in the bowl is a crispy corn risotto cake. Another one of those amazing and defining details.

Tokyo Inn

Longing for a different dining experience? How about being submersed in your meal? At Tokyo Inn, your food is prepared right at your table. And given the skill, talent and spoken asides, it could (and should) be considered dinner and a show.

New York strip steak from Tokyo Inn, Marco Island.

Hibachi dinners at Tokyo Inn include soup, salad, vegetables, shrimp, fried rice and the protein of your choosing.

Veggies and rice are laid out on the hibachi. Then comes the shrimp that everyone gets to sample. This is followed by some fancy foreplay with eggs (that will ultimately be added to the fried rice). Finally, the main protein is added to the grill.

Joey’s Pizza and Pasta

You can choose your pasta and topping. I went with angel hair over meat sauce. Yummers!

From the pasta dinners section of the menu, angel hair with meat sauce from Joey’s Pizza and Pasta, Marco Island.

The dish came with a house salad and my choice of dressing, along with one of Joey’s famous garlic knots. I picked creamy Italian.

And let me just say, no matter what you order, the garlic knots are the star of the show.


Show up at the Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Freedom Square, at the intersection of 951/41 in Naples, and you’re bound to see some island faces. And if you go during lunch or dinner, it’s best to call ahead for reservations, as it’s a very popular dining location.

If you’re looking for great calamari, you’ll find it here. Crispy, hot and a little salty; with the restaurant’s A+ marinara sauce on the side.

The calamari appetizer from Carrabba's, South Naples.

Best bets include the chicken parmesan and lasagna from the Italian classic combination menu. The breast of chicken was coated with “Mama Mandola’s” breadcrumbs, sautéed and topped with pomodoro sauce, Romano and mozzarella cheese.

Marek’s Bar & Bistro

Marek’s is just so darn charming. Located in the historic Collier House (the home of William “Captain Bill” Collier, the first postmaster of Marco Island and the son of Marco’s first permanent settler, William Collier, outside the Calusa Indians), the building is beautifully restored, light and airy with interesting nooks and crannies to fill every glance.

Top picks?

The warm almond-crusted goat cheese salad from Marek's, Marco Island.

There’s the warm almond crusted goat cheese salad. The dish featured mixed greens, cranberries and a balsamic vinaigrette and goat cheese atop a lightly and perfectly toasted piece of bread, with almond slivers.

Then there’s the cottage pie: ground beef and vegetables in gravy with a mashed potato topping.

Bonefish for a bang, bang and a drop

The must try is the “Bang, Bang Shrimp.” Take a mound of breaded shrimp, toss them in a creamy, not-too-spicy spicy Asian chili sauce and serve over lettuce. This is a big dish! I always ask for chopsticks so that I can savor each shrimp one by one. This appetizer gets my highest recommendation.

The Bang, Bang SHrimp from Bonefish Grill, Naples.

Also highly recommended, Wagyu beef and ginger pot stickers. Just like regular pot stickers, these are pan-seared with crispy onions and soy sauce; but the beef is a nice and tasty twist.

If you go

Fin Bistro

  • 657 S Collier Blvd, Marco Island
  • 239-970-6064
  • finbistro.com

Tokyo Inn

  • Shops of Marco
  • 1825 San Marco Road, Marco Island
  • 239-642-1897

Joey's Pizza & Pasta

  • 257 North Collier Blvd.
  • Marco Island
  • 239-389-2433
  • joeyspizzamarco.com

Carrabba's Italian Grill

  • 12631 Tamiami Trail E., Naples
  • 239-774-2965
  • carrabbas.com/locations/fl/ naples-(south)

Marek’s Bar & Bistro

  • 1121 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island
  • 239-642-9948
  • mareksmarcoisland.com

Bonefish Grill

  • 500 5th Ave S, Naples
  • 239-417-1212 
  • Bonefishgrill.com