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

Will Watts
Correspondent

We continued the “Takeout Edition” of “Watts for Dinner” in September to free up tables for those who choose to eat inside island restaurants.

At the end of this month, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was lifting coronavirus restrictions on restaurants across Florida as he pushed the state into Phase 3 of reopening.

This month we added a first-time visit, a new Indian restaurant in Naples, some island favorites and a dessert destination.

Nacho Mama’s, Marco Island

Things got off to an appetizing start with quesadillas. We picked the veggie ($14) with a grilled crispy tortilla filled with tomato, corn, cilantro and a myriad of other veggies along with onion and cheese. It’s served with sour cream, picante cream, black olives and jalapenos.

These were some thick quesadillas and I especially loved the picante cream, which is exactly what it sounds like, but takes on a personality all its own (kind of like thousand island dressing does). Love it!

For an entrée, I ordered the Mama’s Burritos (2 per order, $12-$14). I picked shrimp as my protein and the red pepper cream sauce instead of black bean salsa. The meal comes with rice and either black or refried beans. These burritos were packed tight. And I loved the salty, cheesy, red pepper cream sauce. I added my own cotija cheese for just the right mix. Amazing!

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: Tex Mex in Paradise at Nacho’s Mama’s

My partner in dine picked the rellenos ($15-$16). This dish features two poblano stuffed peppers, featuring cheese, rice and your choice of protein (in this case chicken) with a red pepper cream sauce. It’s served with rice and beans. If you’ve had tradition chile rellenos, this is a bit of a departure, but amazing in its own right. Instead of a light egg batter, this has more of a traditional batter and appears deep fried. And like most deep fried things, it looked and tasted yummy and naughty at the same time.

If you’re looking for Tex Mex, you can’t go wrong by visiting Mama’s house.

Tamarind rice from Le Indya, Naples.

Le Indya, Naples

Typically, I review restaurants on Marco Island, and sometimes South Naples. This week we travel all the way up to Pine Ridge Road for Le Indya, which is billed as “authentic Indian cuisine … one of the most authentic Indian restaurants Naples has ever seen.”

At Le Indya, things got off to an appetizing start with the paneer naan ($6), a traditional

Indian flatbread made of flour, yeast, sugar, salt and yogurt. This one is stuffed with grated paneer cheese, coriander, onions, masala spices and cumin. So yummy! I’m a big naan fan and this one doesn’t disappoint!

Vegetable samosas from Le Indya, Naples.

We also ordered some vegetable samosas ($10), deep fried bite-sized snackers that are so addictive and so good!

For our first shared entrée, we ordered the tamarind rice ($10), which is rice with its namesake and jaggery (cane sugar) along with chilis and roasted lentils. This dish makes a great side to share or main entrée just for you. And tamarind is said to be good for your heart due to the fiber present which has a cholesterol lowering effect.

We also shared the “Buddha Delight” ($16), a most divine vegan dish featuring tofu and eggplant and is mixed with vegetables in tasty coconut and almond sauce. It comes with a side of jasmine rice.

You won’t miss the meat. This dish is thick, hearty and delicious. I licked my plate. These flavors blend together so well, and like a choir, create something more than its parts. I highly recommend this dish.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: Authentic Indian cuisine is a little bit closer

Le Indya is located near the intersection of Pine Ridge Road and U.S. 41. If you’re in the neighborhood drop by for a visit or some takeout.

Thai Sushi By KJ, Marco Island

Thai Sushi By KJ Thai serves traditional and contemporary Thai and Japanese cuisine. We started with two rolls from the sushi bar, a JB roll ($8.99) and a Pascale roll ($12.99).

The JB is salmon and cream cheese wrapped in nori (thin sheets of seaweed) and rice. This is one of my favorites and KJ does it just right.

The Pascale roll features cooked salmon, tempura flakes, scallion, cucumber and is topped with avocado. OMG! This roll is the best. The tempura flakes add a nice little crunch and the avocado not only adds flavor, but lots of beauty.

We also shared a Hosomaki combo ($18.99). First off, it comes with miso soup, which I love. Miso is rich in essential minerals and a good source of various vitamins, including B, E, K and folic acid. As a fermented dish, miso provides the gut with beneficial bacteria that help us to stay healthy.

The combo itself consists of a California roll, most people’s go-to first sushi roll, the aforementioned JB roll and a tekka (tuna) roll. This is a great combo for sharing and when the sushi is good and fresh, like this, there’s absolutely no guilt attached to a little over indulgence.

More:‘Watts for Dinner’ the Takeout Edition: Thai Sushi By KJ serves up satisfaction

For my main entrée, I selected the shrimp pad Thai ($15.99). Huge and generous amounts of shrimp were the star of KJ’s dish. And I must add, their take was lighter and better than most. Typically made with rice noodle, peanuts, scrambled egg and bean sprouts, among other vegetables, KJ’s was more reserved on the nut/peanut flavor that gave this dish a nice twist. I highly recommend it. 

KJ’s has proven itself to be a solid performer and you’ll always leave satisfied.

Dolce Mare, Marco Island

Billed as “Marco Island’s sweetest spot,” Dolce Mare is a great one-stop shop when you’re craving decadent desserts. From cakes, truffles, candy, bark, macarons, popcorn, toffee and coffees to gelato and Italian ice, there’s something for everyone.

For those of you knew to gelato, it’s very similar to ice cream. Gelato uses more milk and less cream than your typical ice cream and doesn't use egg yolks, which are an ingredient in ice cream. On the plus side, gelato typically offers less calories, less sugar and a lower fat content per serving than ice cream.

Dolce Mare features tempting and unique flavors like tiramisu and banana Nutella, as well as strawberry cheesecake and hazelnut, among others.

On the candy side, if you’re crazing smores-inspired desserts you’re in luck. What about white chocolate and coconut? Or a cookies and cream bark? Bet we have your attention now.

We took home a s’mores treat featuring graham cracker and marshmallow covered in both chocolate, and white chocolate. Incredible!

We also took home the cookies and cream bark, extremely sweet; and the white chocolate bark, a creamy delight; and white chocolate dipped Oreos, superb! For the record, there’s also chocolate dipped Oreos.

Then there’s the super-moist carrot cake featuring pecans on top. It was also super sweet, featuring an Italian honey that’s like agave in the cake. The icing was my favorite. I’m a sucker for cream cheese.

Whether you’re treating yourself or buying a gift, you’ll find something to please at Dolce Mare.

More:‘Watts for Dessert’: Find your sweet spot at Dolce Mare

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

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

If you go

Nacho Mama’s

  • 599 South Collier Boulevard, Marco Island
  • 239-389-2222
  • thenachomamas.com

Le Indya

  • 975 Pine Ridge Road, Naples
  • 239-591-5156
  • leindya.com

Thai Sushi By KJ

  • 317 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island
  • 239-970-2625
  • bykjthaisushi.com

Dolce Mare

  • Marco Walk Plaza, 599 South Collier Blvd., Suite 302, Marco Island
  • 239-389-9000
  • dolcemaresweets.com