Best of 2021: The top things we ate from July through December

Will Watts

Welcome to part two of our 2021 food adventures. If you missed part one, visit marconews.com.

As a reminder for the restaurants who didn’t make the list: The competition was fierce and there’s no shame in not being included, and I think you’ll agree – these dishes offer something special. Also, of note, there’s more restaurants on Marco Island than we can eat in during a given year, so some places weren’t even in the running. For those, we’ll see you in 2022.

The burrata salad from La Tavola, Marco Island.


“La Tavola literally means the table. The place where family and friends gather to share laughter, love and life! We use only fresh, carefully sourced and seasonal ingredients to make sure that your meal is exceptional every time.”

The burrata salad ($14) and the warm brie ($15) are just a couple of standouts from this Marco Island restaurant. The salad comes with sliced beefsteak tomatoes, roasted garlic oil and a balsamic reduction. There are also crispy shallots atop the burrata cheese. The warm brie cheese comes with toasted pine nuts, arugula, a honey drizzle, and ciabatta crostini.

The salad was pure perfection. The fresh cheese is well complimented by the shallots. A delicious dish.

Also, noteworthy, from Joey's Pizza & Pasta, Marco Island, the spinach lasagna ($21.95), featuring spinach and ricotta cheese layered between pasta topped with plum tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. This is a huge serving. It’s super tasty and you’ll relish every bite.

More:Best of July: The top things we ate in SWFLA

Crudi from Sale e Pepe, Marco Island.


Dine from a second floor balcony overlooking Marco Island’s beautiful sandy beaches as the sun sets, at Sale e Pepe at the Marco Beach Ocean Resort.

Start with the “Crudi” ($21), local raw seafood, combined with slices of Florida citrus and Sicilian extra virgin olive oil with sprigs of saffron and other spices (so wonderfully delicious) or the “Fritto Misto” ($22), which consists of light and crispy calamari and shrimp along with a Calabrian chili aioli dipping sauce. It features lemon, lime, saffron sprigs and other delicate spices. So good!

More? From the historic Snook Inn in Olde Marco, the eatery’s “Famous Grouper Sandwich” ($18.99) from the craft sandwiches menu. It’s served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomatoes and onions. The bun was soft and fresh. The fish fried to perfection. And the onion rings, some of the best on the island.

More:Best of August: The top things we ate in SWFLA


This month the Italian Deli and Market, Marco Island, moved from its longtime home on Collier Boulevard to Park Avenue. That’s a winning move in the game of Monopoly and, in this case, real life as well.

Stuffed artichoke hearts from the Italian Deli & Market, Marco Island.

The stuffed artichoke hearts ($12). OMG! The stuffing is Boursin cheese, flash fried and served with a lemon aioli. These were so good! I can’t wait to have them again.

I also had the eggplant parmesan ($15). You can also get this as a sandwich. It was absolutely amazing. So hearty! It came with a side of delectable fettuccini.

Worthy of a mention, Thai Thai Sushi Bowl, which is located in the Naples Outlet Mall.

You can’t go wrong with the #24 from the Japanese noodle soup menu, a shrimp tempura ramen ($18.99). It features a Shoyu broth (soy sauce flavor), and its topped with Chinese broccoli, scallions, soft-boiled egg, Naruto, enoki mushrooms, sesame seeds and nori.

More:Best of September: The top things we ate in SWFLA

“Rollatini Di Melanzana” from Da Vinci Ristorante Italiano, Marco Island.


Da Vinci’s, Marco Island, offers the magnificent “Rollatini Di Melanzana” ($17), featuring eggplant, ricotta, mozzarella and a light marinara; the “Linguine Nere All’Aragosta” ($35), featuring a squid-ink black linguine, Maine lobster meat and a cognac pink sauce; and the “Gnocchi Da Vinci” ($24), featuring potato dumplings (gnocchi), a tomato basil sauce and topped with burrata; the “Linguine Nere All’Aragosta” earns top praise.

The squid ink adds a dark sheen and a slightly briny flavor to this dish and is a perfect base for this dish. I expected only a small amount of lobster but was surprised. This dish had as much meat as your best Bolognese. And the sauce, delectable. I highly recommend this dish.

Also noteworthy, the “Big and Giant Roll” ($19.99), from Thai Sushi By KJ is located on Collier Boulevard on Marco Island. It features salmon, tuna, white tuna, white fish, krab, cream cheese, avocado, scallions and asparagus; the avocado salad ($6.99), featuring the namesake, as well as mandarin oranges, cucumbers, a vinegar dressing and topped with sesame seeds.

More:Best of October: The top things we ate in SWFLA

Cheese curds from Sunset Grille, Marco Island.


Sunset Grille has one of the best views of any eatery on Marco Island. Whether you eat inside or out, Marco’s beautiful beach and waterfront is your vista.

We started with the fried cheese curds ($12.99) and the boneless buffalo wings ($12.99). Hello Wisconsin! I love these cheesy little nuggets. Especially dipped in the marinara sauce. I also dipped them in the wing’s blue cheese. Double-cheese amazement!

We got the boneless wings mild. And Sunset Grille did something amazing. Not only did they serve mild wings, but they were still full of flavor. In addition to the aforementioned blue cheese, the wings are also served with celery sticks – if that’s your thing.

Nestled in the back streets of Marco Island is the Sand Bar. And not being located on a main throughfare doesn’t in any way keep folks from finding it. When we visited, it was not lunch time, nor dinner time and it wasn’t a weekend. Yet, the parking lot was packed. We literally took the last spot.

The “Fingers & Toes” ($13) appetizer is beer-battered fish fingers served with thinly sliced fries. Both were absolutely amazing and cooked to perfection. The fingers were thick and meaty, and the fries were some of the best I’ve ever had.

More:Best of November: The top things we ate in SWFLA

Pumpkin cheesecake pancakes from Doreen's Cup of Joe, Marco Island.


We’re fortunate to have so many great breakfast places on Marco Island. And Doreen's Cup of Joe on Marco Island one of the best.

I asked for the biscuit sandwich ($16, with my modifications). It comes with sausage or bacon, the cheese of your choice, and eggs your way. I traded the biscuit for an everything bagel, asked for sausage AND bacon and for my egg to be fried and served with American cheese. For my side, hash browns.

The server quickly agreed to my every request and the sandwich was delivered exactly as I ordered it. And it was marvelous. Bravo!

Then there’s the pumpkin cheesecake pancakes ($13). You get three pumpkin-flavored pancakes covered in a house made cream cheese sauce and nutmeg. Amazing! Pancakes have come so far in 2021.

Also worth a mention in December, Michelbob’s Championship Ribs & Steaks.

We ordered a full rack of ribs ($20.99). Dinners come with your choice of baked potato, potato salad or corn on the cob and cole slaw, baked beans and grilled garlic toast. We also added pork sandwiches ($7.49 each) and a chicken breast combo ($15.99).

This food is simply out of this world. Underneath the smoke and sauces, the secret to Michelbob’s success might just be the meat, which is imported from Denmark.

That’s it for 2021. See you in 2022. Happy eating! And happy new year!

More:Best of 2021: The top things we ate from January through June

This newspaper pays for all meals related to dining reviews. We do not solicit or accept free food. Not all dishes are featured in print, but you can find a gallery of all reviewed dishes online at marconews. com.

If you go

La Tavola Restaurant and Bar

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

Joey's Pizza & Pasta

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

Sale e Pepe

  • 480 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island
  •  239-393-1600
  • sale-e-pepe.com

Snook Inn

  • 1215 Bald Eagle Dr., Marco Island
  • 239-394-3313
  • snookinn.com

Italian Deli and Market

  • 902 Park Ave, Marco Island
  • 239-394-9493
  • marcoislanditaliandeli.com

Thai Thai Sushi Bowl

  • 6060 Collier Blvd., #23, South Naples
  • 239-732-9520
  • thaithaius.com

Da Vinci Ristorante Italiano

  • 599 S Collier Blvd, Marco Island
  • 239-389-1888
  • ristorantedavinci.com

Thai Sushi By KJ

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

Doreen's Cup of Joe

  • 267 N Collier Blvd, Marco Island
  • 239-394-2600
  • doreenscupofjoe.com

Michelbob’s Championship Ribs & Steaks

  • 915 N. Collier Boulevard, Marco Island and 371 Airport-Pulling Rd, Naples
  • 239-394-0302 (Marco, takeout online)
  • 239-643-7427 (Naples, dine in or takeout)
  • michelbobs.com