Best of April: The top things we ate in SWFL

Will Watts

April marked the first time in my history that all the reviews were takeout or delivery, no on location dining. Thanks pandemic! That being said, it remained a month of top-notch dining in Paradise.

Jackie’s Chinese, Marco Island

The folks at Jackie’s are experts at takeout – as that is their primary business. When I arrived, the first thing I noticed is that everybody was wearing masks and gloves. But somehow, you could still see that they were smiling and happy to see me. And I appreciate that.

We ordered the orange chicken combo which comes with pork-fried rice and an egg roll. I love the tightly- packed and sealed (reusable) take home containers which seem to keep the food hot for a long period of time.

More:Hey Marco Island, looking for a place to eat?

This dish features battered- and deep-fried chicken coated in an orange spicy sauce with visible peppers. Yum! We also love the rice, but if pork fried is not your thing, you can request white instead.

The egg rolls are huge! And some of the best I’ve ever had.

We also order the chicken lo mein combo. These Asian noodles are one of my favorite dishes. I do prefer the shrimp version of this dish (there’s also beef). This combo also comes with an egg roll and your choice of rice.

We added some fresh steamed vegetables and spring rolls to our order. Why? Well, if you’re on a budget, with just these two small adds, a meal for two can easily become a meal for four or more.

With the visible safety precautions, you won’t regret trusting Jackie’s with your takeout order.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ Takeout Edition: Jackie's takes visible precautions to bring you delicious dishes

Davide Italian Café & Deli, Marco Island

When you’re stuck at home, it doesn’t take much to excite you. On this day, we decided to order delivery from Davide on Marco Island. So, you could just imagine, I was bouncing off the walls with joy.

First step, visiting davideitaliancafe. com to make our selections. You’ll note throughout this article what “menu” or tab we ordered from online, not indicative of the type of food necessarily; just a reference point.

We were dining at a home just off Marco Island, so we were extremely happy to find out the restaurant delivers off island.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: A well-run ‘Empire’

From the appetizers menu, we ordered the rollatini di melenzana ($11.95), thinly sliced eggplant stuffed with ricotta cheese and topped with mozzarella cheese in a light tomato sauce. Such a nice flavor with this appetizer. And so easy for two to share. The sauce is the star, but only marginally, as the whole dish shines. Perfection! Also, from the appetizers menu, we requested a side of lasagna ($8.95). Very meaty and cheesy and it left me wanting more.

From the panini menu, we order the pollo Milanese ($9.95), thinly pounded breaded chicken breast lightly fried topped with arugula, diced tomatoes, sliced onions with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice and served on fresh bread. This was my favorite dish of the night. With an inhouse dressing and plenty of greens, it was a sandwich and a salad. Amazing!

From the pasta menu we ordered the spaghetti con salsiccia ($17.95), spaghetti pasta with homemade mild sausage in a marinara sauce. I prefer a Bolognese sauce or meatballs, but

this was a worthy experiment for me.

All the above was shared among two people for one big. Below, the next night’s dinner for two.

From the pizza menu we ordered Stromboli ($16.95 to $19.95, we ordered the larger), rolled up pizza dough stuffed with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and tomato sauce on the side. This is one monster of a Stromboli and while I didn’t sample it on night one, I can tell you it ages well. Very, very well! This was a close second for favorite dish.

There was no delivery charge listed. Awesome! And they sent us a complimentary bottle of wine due to the size of our order. Impressed! And yes, we tipped generously.

We’ve had some great meals at Davide. And that translates into their delivery dinners. Well packaged. Well delivered by a familiar face with all the necessary precautions.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ Takeout Edition: Davide delivers authentic Italian

Red Rooster, Marco Island

I was craving breakfast food and decided to call Red Rooster on Marco Island to get my fix. And in the name of support, I also ordered from the lunch menu for a second meal.

I ordered the breakfast sandwich ($8.99). This dish features eggs (your way, I asked for fried), cheese (cheddar for me, but you can also have American, Swiss or provolone) and your pick of meat (bacon or sausage). I asked for both, but only got sausage. Totally understandable. That sometimes happens with special requests. The sandwich was delicious. And I enjoyed it thoroughly.

My sandwich comes with hash browns, but up I upgraded to the hash brown casserole featuring cheese. Yummy. Next time I’ll add bacon to that, if they let me. I never learn.

My partner in dine picked the “Big Daddy Scramble” ($9.99) featuring scrambled eggs mixed with sausage, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and covered in cheddar cheese. He had the hash browns and wheat toast as well. This is a hearty breakfast, so bring your appetite. The toast was huge and there were two slices made from homemade bread (I’m assuming).

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ Takeout Edition: La Tavola delivers quality with ease

From the lunch menu and for a different meal, he picked the quinoa arugula salad ($10.99) featuring the namesake ingredients and feta cheese, tomato, cucumber, red onion and avocado, tossed in lemon vinaigrette. We added grilled chicken ($4).

I ordered the turkey wrap ($9.99), featuring turkey breast roasted inhouse, with mixed greens, bacon, avocado and tomato with basil pesto mayo. For my side, I requested potato salad. The wrap was huge, fresh and delicious. I highly recommend this dish. And the potato salad? Love it! One of the best on Marco.

Couple more points. The staff was wearing gloves. The food was packaged well. And they were kind enough to clean off my card with a wipe before handing it back. Great teamwork!

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ Takeout Edition: Red Rooster has breakfast, lunch to go

La Tavola, Marco Island

When you visit their website, latavolarestaurantandbar.com, you can click on the item or items you want, add to your virtual cart, choose delivery or pickup, select the time you want your food, pay your bill and leave a generous tip with just one hand. Wow!

One of my selections was the grilled chicken sandwich ($14), featuring basil and garlic marinated chicken, crispy bacon, lettuce, beefsteak tomato, sliced avocado and pepper jack cheese on a toasted brioche bun.

This all white meat wonder is huge with lots of bacon. Just look at the photo. And the avocado was so perfectly ripe. This is one of my favorite chicken sandwiches.

The sandwich comes with your choice of cole slaw, French fries, truffle fries or onion rings. For my side, I picked the truffle fries, thin-cut fires, seasoned with truffle oil and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. So good!

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ Takeout Edition: Davide delivers authentic Italian

My partner in dine picked the steak sandwich ($18), featuring sirloin steak, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion on a 10-inch Amoroso hoagie roll. You can add mushrooms or caramelized onions for $1 each.

Tender and juicy and made with quality beef, this is the perfect sandwich for the steak lover.

This dish also comes with your choice of sides. He picked a hearty portion of thin-cut French fries.

For my second meal, I ordered the turkey club

($14). It was not what I expected. It was better. Readers of this column know that I enjoy a traditional turkey club: three slices of toasted bread, stacked high with shaved turkey and yummy bacon cut into fours. This is not that. But that’s OK.

This sandwich features thick house roasted turkey breast, applewood bacon, beefsteak tomato, sliced avocado, basil pesto mayonnaise and between two slices of thick grilled sourdough bread. OMG!

I’m all about breaking with tradition when the results are this good. Way to shake things up!

For my side, giant battered onion rings.

My partner in dine picked the buffalo chicken Caesar wrap ($13) featuring crispy chicken, romaine lettuce with Caesar dressing, parmesan cheese in a tomato basil wrap. This wrap was amazing with quality chicken and fresh ingredients.

La Tavola places a strong emphasis on quality. Their website and delivery were executed perfectly and safely. You won’t be disappointed.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ Takeout Edition: La Tavola delivers quality with ease

As always, support local restaurants in their time of need, if you can. Stay healthy and eat well.

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

More:Best of March: The top things we ate in SWFL

If you go

Jackie’s Chinese Restaurant

  • 1089 North Collier Boulevard, Ste 425, Marco Island
  •  239-642-8148
  • jackies-chinese-restaurant.business.site

Davide Italian Café & Deli

  • Island Plaza (NW Corner Bald Eagle and Collier Boulevard)
  • 688 Bald Eagle Dr., Marco Island
  • 239-393-2233
  • davideitaliancafe.com

Red Rooster

  • 1821 San Marco Rd, Marco Island
  • 239-394-3100
  • redroostermarco.com

La Tavola Restaurant and Bar

  • 961 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island
  • 239-393-4960
  • latavolarestaurantandbar.com