Naples restaurants: 5 must-eat morsels from Oakes Farms' new Seed to Table Market
Seed to Table Market has finally opened in North Naples. This locavore grocery store is a lot to take in. It can also be wonderfully delicious.
It's finally here.
By "it" I mean 2020 and Oakes Farm's new Seed to Table Market in North Naples.
We've been waiting the better part of a decade for both.
The market was supposed to open in 2015 — and 2016, 2017, 2018.
Every one of my trips has been overwhelming — in good and bad ways.
My jaw dropped when I walked inside for the first time. People had to move around me as I stood frozen in the entrance, under a lit marquee that read "WELCOME." Holograms adorn the produce section and blueberries cost $8.99 a pound.
It was like entering Narnia, but there were no forest nymphs or kindly fawns to guide me or protect me from outrageously priced berries — I mean ... the White Witch.
I made my way to the back of the store. There are four different counters serving seven types of food: sandwiches on the right side, salads next to that, pizza/pasta/tacos in the middle, and sushi/raw meals to the left. There's a whole separate bar area for smoothies, juices and coffee.
There is no need to wait for your food, either. The cashier will hand you a tracker and someone will bring your meal to wherever you are seated in the store.
Despite the massive crowds of people elbowing each other — sometimes followed by choruses of apologies, other times noticeably not — Seed to Table is pleasing to the eye and the taste buds.
Here are five of my favorite eats from Naples' newest market.
I put this wide category first because really every dessert I tried at Seed to Table was good. I couldn't decide on a specific one to put above the others.
The pastry case is extensive, ranging from tiny cakes to pies to tarts to gluten-free goodies.
The Key lime tart is creamy, with a soft lime finish and a firm shortbread crust. The strawberry tart is made with that same shortbread crust, topped with smooth custard and clear-glazed strawberries.
The coffee eclair is nutty and rich, topped with coffee beans brushed with edible gold. The pastry was a bit stale when I bit into it, but it was 8 p.m. Perhaps the morning batch is fresher.
I dreamed about it last night and woke up drooling. I wish I was exaggerating.
The beef patty was perfectly juicy, dressed with American cheese, onion jam and a "smack sauce," lovingly held between two halves of a brioche bun.
All sandwiches come with a side of house-made chips or potato salad. Both are equally delicious complements.
Of all the meals at Seed to Table, I was most eager to try its house-made pastas. I've been to Italy. I have a lovely Italian auntie who has rolled fresh pastas out on my family's counter tops every Christmas for the past 10 years.
I am not the pasta master, but I do consider myself a student of pasta's deliciousness.
I indulged in lesson after lesson.
Seed to Table serves its pastas al dente. I tried the fettuccine tossed in cream sauce with peas, chopped basil, sage, pancetta and juicy-sweet roasted heirloom tomatoes.
The pasta pomodoro featured linguine in a fresh tomato sauce with hints of garlic, basil and Parmesan. Customers can add chicken, meatballs, grouper or shrimp to any of the pasta dishes. I went with shrimp in my pomodoro, but was disappointed to find a skewer of only three grilled shrimp served on the side.
On one visit, it took 30 minutes to get my fettucine, and by the time I did, it had congealed. It was still tasty, but lacking. On my next visit, the pasta pomodoro came within 10 minutes and was steaming. That heat made all the difference.
Al pastor tacos
These tacos took me by surprise.
Grocery store tacos sound all sorts of wrong. Especially at a market that is not specifically Latin.
Yet, these tacos al pastor were bursting with flavor. The juicy pork edged my tongue with spicy heat, while diced grilled pineapple and chopped cilantro cooled my senses.
The tacos come with a side of chips, guacamole and salsa. The guac and salsa were so fresh and flavorful, I bought a container of each.
Chicken pesto pizza
If you read nothing else in this piece, read this. The chicken pesto pizza was the best thing I tasted at Seed to Table.
White pecorino sauce with provolone, grilled leeks, sweet cherry tomatoes and arugula came artfully presented on a thin crust, the whole lot drizzled with a swirl of bright green pesto.
Even though I wanted to scarf it down in one bite, I had to remind myself to go slow, so the melty provolone wouldn't burn my mouth. There's too much else to enjoy at Seed to Table. I need my taste buds intact.
Jean Le Boeuf is the pseudonym used by a local food lover who dines at restaurants anonymously and without warning, with meals paid for by The News-Press or Naples Daily News. Follow the critic at facebook.com/jeanleboeufswfl or @JeanLeBoeuf on Twitter and Instagram.
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