At Captain & Krewe in Naples, a seafood routine that's routinely delicious — JLB review

Captain & Krewe, a restaurant and seafood market in the heart of Naples, has mastered the art of stone crabs — and the art of dining, Naples-style.

Annabelle Tometich
Naples Daily News

Every few minutes at Captain & Krewe, the sound of a cracking stone crab claw snaps through the dining room. And, every few minutes, another paper-lined platter of these local beauties is escorted to a table, often alongside a bottle of Taittinger or Chablis

This claw parade is so routine at the 6-year-old Naples restaurant and seafood market, it can almost seem mundane. That is, until you peel the porcelain-like shell from your first stonie of the season and remember how not-at-all-mundane these buttery sweet wonders taste. 

That this place has mastered stone crabs isn't shocking. Before Captain & Krewe became Captain & Krewe, it was the longtime Capt. Kirk's Stone Crabs, a simple seafood counter with a few tables located just far enough from the bustle of Fifth Avenue South to keep things homey. In 2015, Kirk's became "& Krewe," doubling in size to a still-cozy 60 seats while also adding to the menu and opening for dinner. 

A platter of medium stone crab claws, priced on my visit at $9 per claw, from Captain & Krewe in Naples.

In the heart of Naples, overlooking the leafy beauty of Cambier Park, Captain & Krewe hasn't simply mastered stone crabs. It's mastered this city.

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Behind me, men in golf shirts bantered about the state of the greens at Old Collier versus Grey Oaks. Outside, beneath royal palm trees wrapped in twinkle lights, women in straw hats and leather sandals picked at salads while sipping sauvignon blanc. Captain & Krewe understands its audience and caters to it with efficient, no-nonsense service, keeping the wine flowing and the claws cracking. 

The thing about stone crabs is: They're hard to get wrong. The claws are steamed dockside and delivered to markets and restaurants already blush-red and cooked. The task for the folks at Captain & Krewe is to keep the claws cold (easy enough), and to serve them with equally delicious things (less so). 

That's where this place excels. 

Captain & Krewe loads its hush puppies with sweet onion, corn, cheese and jalapenos.

The requisite stone crabs — $9 a claw for mediums on my visit — could come with jumbo lump crab cakes, or with grilled oysters slathered in garlic butter and pecorino.

A basket of shatteringly crisp hush puppies were thick as baseballs, their steamy innards loaded with flecks of sweet onion, corn, cheese and jalapenos. The ceviche, the day's catch speckled with green tomatoes and cantaloupe in a citrus-and-chilies marinade, tasted like the last bites of summer in a bowl. A simple sampler of house fish dips and spreads proved equally refreshing. 

Though nothing at Captain & Krewe can honestly be called simple.

The tuna-salad sandwich is made with yellowfin. The seafood salad comes with local blue crab and shrimp. The BLT is layered with seared tuna, avocado and wasabi aioli. 

Key lime pie with dollops of toasted meringue from Captain & Krewe in Naples.

Krewe's sun-filled dining room is decorated, on one side, with big windows and views of the park. Along the other are cases of just-caught seafood chilling on ice, practically begging to be taken home. Behind them is that claw cracker, the one that, this time of year especially, never seems to stop. 

More stonies cracking, more Champagne popping, more paper-lined platters, more bubbly flutes — it's the Captain & Krewe way. And it's the Naples way, a routine that's equal parts comforting and delicious. 

Jean Le Boeuf is the brand under which our restaurant critics have written for more than 40 years. This article came from staff writer Annabelle Tometich. Follow our critics at facebook.com/jeanleboeufswfl or @JeanLeBoeuf on Twitter and Instagram; email jleboeuf@news-press.com. Connect with this reporter: atometich@news-press.com; @abellewrites (Instagram)

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Captain & Krewe 

629 Eighth St. S., Naples

Price: $$$

Webcknaples.com

Call: 239-263-1976

Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily

Etc.: Beer and wine available; outdoor seating; onsite seafood market; kids menu

Sample menu

Small plates

Hummus & tapenade, $11

Spicy Cajun shrimp, $14

Cheesy blue crab dip, $16

Sandwiches and mains

Cheeseburger, $14

Seared tuna BLT, $16

7 oz fish from the case, market price

*Hours and prices subject to change

What the symbols mean

$ - Average entree is under $10

$$ - $10-$15

$$$ - $15-$20

$$$$ - $20-$25

$$$$$ - $25 and up