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Best of July: Here are the top things we ate in SWFL

Will Watts
Correspondent

We continued the “Takeout Edition” of “Watts for Dinner” in July in order to free up tables for those who choose to eat at island restaurants with limited seating because of social distancing.

This month featured some island favorites, a South Naples burger joint and a fine dining establishment in Marco Walk.

NeNe’s Kitchen, Marco Island

From the breakfast menu and under the “Egg skillets” tab, we ordered the “Mexi Burrito” ($9.99), the veggie skillet ($9.99) and the “Eggstravaganza.”

The Mexi is two eggs, beans, cheese, onions, salsa and sour cream in a flour tortilla. The veggie skillet features two eggs, green peppers, onions, mushrooms and cheese. The “Eggstravaganza” is two eggs (we had scrambled with cheese). All three meals come with hash browns and toast and both make for a hearty breakfast; so much so that you won’t even notice you’re going meatless; that’s just an added benefit.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: Hearty is in everything NeNe’s does

From the lunch menu we ordered two specialty wraps. The “Veggie Wrap” ($9.99) features bean sprouts, hummus, roasted peppers and mozzarella on a spinach tortilla. Sooooo good! The “Chicken Teriyaki Wrap” ($9.99) features chunks of chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, green pepper, onion, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and teriyaki sauce. It’s big, beautiful and bold.

All the food was hearty and tasted great; top quality.

NeNe’s was super busy, per usual. But the staff were taking precautions, including wearing masks. And we thank them for that.

The Beyond burger from BurgerFi, South Naples.

BurgerFi, South Naples

Nothing says summer like burgers, dogs and fries. And if you’re still uneasy about getting out and especially eating out, Burger Fi makes it easy to order for delivery or pickup and pay online.

When you visit burgerfi.com, just click on the burger you want – it comes preloaded with the condiments and toppings that match the selection, you can subtract or add toppings as you desire.

For this visit, we are going meatless and Burger Fi has two different patties to pick from – the “VegeFi” and the Beyond burger. I love them both, so I got one of each so that I could hopefully settle this debate once and for all.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: BurgerFi offers a ‘natural’ taste of summer

The “VegeFi” ($7.47) is a “crispy quinoa and fresh-cut veggie” patty cooked in peanut oil. It comes topped with white cheddar, lettuce, tomato, Burger-Fi sauce on a multigrain bun (you can also go bunless).

I didn’t remove any toppings, and only added onions. This burger is crispy on the outside, while the inside resembles mashed potatoes. The veggies are fresh, and the taste is amazing. However, there’s no mistaking this for a real burger; it’s its own thing and I love it!

The Beyond burger ($9.57) is 100 percent plant-based and features, you guessed it, Beyond meat, and is topped with American cheese, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions and is served on Burger-Fi’s branded potato bun.

With this burger, you might easily forget you’re not eating real meat; it’s also very delicious.

That being said, I’ve had the real meat option, featuring natural angus beef and it’s one of the best burgers you can get from a chain restaurant. The beef is also free of hormones, steroids and antibiotics.

A recommendation from a previous visit, “The CEO,” a double Wagyu and brisket blend burger with homemade candied bacon-tomato jam, truffle aioli and aged Swiss cheese.

Go for the delicious selection of burgers, fries and more; and for easy contactless ordering and paying.

Cocomo’s, Marco Island

Cocomo’s Grill has perhaps the widest variety of food on the island, from Asian fusion to Italian and everything in between. Now that’s something to sing about.

We started off with two appetizers. The chicken lettuce wraps ($11) feature soy marinated chicken sautéed with onions, water chestnuts and cashews and served with cool lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, and cilantro. You can substitute shrimp for $13.

This dish reminds me of the P.F. Changes/Pei Wei wraps; but instead of ground chicken you get chicken chunks. The staff did a great job with this dish, keeping the cool parts in a separate container from the hot parts. Seasoned well, a little challenging to eat but worth the extra effort.

We also partook of the pot stickers ($9). You can have these pork-filled dumplings steamed or fried, and we picked the latter. The dish includes a seaweed salad and soy sauce.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: Cocomo's, get there fast; take it slow

For my entrée, I opted for the spinach tortellini ($21) featuring asiago cheese stuffed pasta sautéed in brandy, cream, marinara, tomato, onion, garlic, then finished with spinach, bacon, chicken, shrimp and parmesan cheese. It comes with garlic bread and a side house of Caesar.

My dining companion had the portabella sandwich ($9.99) featuring a marinated mushroom grilled with roasted red pepper then topped with spinach, parmesan cheese and pesto sauce. It comes with your choice of side (he picked sweet potato fries) and cole slaw. You can add lettuce or tomato if you want; he did not. Cocomo’s suggests you can try any sandwich on garlic bread for $1 more; and that seemed fitting for this sandwich.

It could best be described as a colorful work of art; but don’t fall in love with the outside because it tastes as good as it looks. This dish comes highly recommended.

Just like the songs says, get there fast and then take it slow, down at Cocomo’s.

Crazy Flamingo, Marco Island

We started with the deep fried ravioli ($7.99) and the buffalo shrimp ($10.99). Deep frying a ravioli can transform it from a simple entree accompaniment into a sophisticated appetizer, and this was perhaps the best part of my meal. It comes with six golden pillows and a side of cheese-covered marina.

The battered butterfly shrimp are dipped in a buffalo sauce and served with blue cheese (or ranch) dressing. The dressing tasted as though it was made in house; was very think with big chunks of blue cheese; yummy! The shrimp were on the soggy side.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: The Crazy Flamingo is a Marco mainstay

For my entrée, I choose the Thai fish ($14.99); the fish is battered and fried and coated in a spicy sauce and served over a bed of yellow rice. The sauce is tasty but overpowers the fish a bit too much. Jasmine would be a better rice choice for this dish, but the yellow rice was good.

My dining companion had the fish sandwich ($11.99). You can pick from mahi-mahi, white fish, ahi tuna, grouper of salmon. He got the blackened mahi- mahi. For a small upcharge, it can be served on garlic bread, which he opted for. The bread was the star of this dish, which could have used a small flavor kick; perhaps a chipotle mayo or something? The fillet was thick and plentiful with colorful greens. And it was served with Crazy’s amazing fries.

Crazy Flamingo’s feels like it’s part of the community and relies on regulars more than tourists. It’s a true taste of Marco Island.

Marco Prime, Marco Island

First, we were happy to see staff wearing masks. And when we visited, diners seemed to be spread out with no occupied tables neighboring each other.

For my main dish, I picked the fennel tuna ($37) featuring a fennel and black-pepper dusted seared rare tuna filet in a bed of couscous, agrodolce (a traditional sweet and sour sauce in Italian cuisine) with vegetables. The sweet soy butter sauce and Rayu chili oil blended for a subtle yet lively flavor that complimented the meat very well.

For his entrée, my guest enjoyed “The Best Risotto” ($30) featuring wild mushrooms, burrata cheese, peas, corn, toasted pistachios and a sweet soy glaze. While the description may sound like a side dish, let me tell you it’s a solid and delicious main course.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: Treat yourself to Marco Prime

Both entrees came from the house specialties section of the main menu.

For a side, I had the tempting and delectable truffle and parmesan fries ($10). It’s a big order, and might I suggest sharing with a friend; because it’s hard to stop eating them.

My dining companion had the roasted cauliflower ($10) seasoned with garlic and olive oil. Cooked to perfection – meaning still a bit crunchy and not mush – this dish is the perfect compliment.

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

Our order also came with complimentary assorted and tasty breads.

Although Marco Prime can be a little steep if you’re watching your money, it’s still a good choice for special occasions or just to treat yourself.

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

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

If you go

NeNe’s Kitchen

  • 297 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island
  • 239-394-3854
  • neneskitchen.com

BurgerFi

  • 12712 Tamiami Trail East, Naples
  • 239-331-3606
  • burgerfi.com

Cocomo’s Grill

  • 945 N Collier Blvd., Marco Island
  • 239-394-3600
  • cocomosgrill.com/

The Crazy Flamingo

  • 1035 North Collier Boulevard, #313, Marco Island
  • 239-642-9600
  • thecrazy flamingo.com

Marco Prime Steak & Seafood

  • 599 S Collier Blvd., Marco Island
  • marcoprime.com 
  • 239-389-2333