Hello from JLB: Meet your newest food writer

And just like that, I have a new food-loving colleague, and you have a new restaurant expert.

Annabelle Tometich
Fort Myers News-Press
Diana Biederman,  Naples Daily News food and restaurant journalist.

I have to confess: I write these newsletters mere moments before they land in your inbox. Were I a better newsletter-writer, I'd plan out my missives and carefully craft them in the window of my softly lit Upper East Side brownstone while chewing my lip in some impossibly cute designer pajamas ala Carrie Bradshaw. And just like that, you'd be in awe. 

But here I am in sweaty workout clothes and a baggy sweater because it's Florida-cold outside, clacking at my keyboard in my laundry room that doubles as a home office. Most newsletter-writing days, I'm scouring the interwebs for ideas in a mild panic. But today — today, I have great news to share:

We have a new food writer. 

Please, allow me to introduce you to Diana Biederman. Diana has lived on Isles of Capri since 2015. She most recently worked as the press and guest-relations specialist for Sails Restaurant on Fifth Avenue South in Naples. She's written for Condé Nast and served as public relations manager for the 21 Club in New York City. 

She is SO MUCH COOLER THAN ME. And I say that with love. 

Diana is quite possibly the most interesting person with whom I've had the pleasure of working. She's been profiled by the New York Times — twice. She was born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, meaning she loves a mall and a corner-store breakfast sandwich. Far more importantly, she knows the Naples restaurant scene inside and out. 

Before we get to this week's restaurant happenings, let me tell you a little more about Diana. Or, let me let her tell you ... 

But first: Do you subscribe? Subscribers can eat up local news, reviews, and the food and features stories I've linked below to their heart's content. Get started here.

Favorite food: I've been quoted as saying my death-row dish is the Gotham Salad at Bergdorf Goodman, but ask me now, and I'm torn between great soup dumplings or an eggplant Parm hero. 

What's your go-to if you're cooking at home on a Tuesday night? I call it Production Number Pasta. It's all the leftover vegetables we have, some kind of protein, usually hot Italian sausage, and pasta. It's beautiful, full of vegetables. And it really is a production, digging out whatever it is you have in the fridge that's seen better days, figuring how to layer them so they cook just right. 

Aside from Sails, which Collier restaurant have you been to the most?Island Gypsy. It's a proximity thing. We can get there via golf cart. I usually get the lobster Reuben and a side of onion rings, which, they're onion rings are amazing. They're probably Sysco, but I don't care.

Favorite restaurant for taking out-of-town guests: Siam Thai. You can always get a table, and it reminds me of the old-school Thai restaurants in New York. I take most of my New York friends to Siam. 

Favorite place for a cocktail: I really like Seventh South (Craft Food + Drink). Even with the chef change, I think they're doing a really wonderful job, and the bartender is excellent. 

Favorite place for something sweet: The chocolate martini at Sails is something else. 

Could you be a tad biased on that one? Maybe — but it's dessert in a glass. One is not enough, and two is too many. 

Claim to fame: Being banned from "Jeopardy!" is a good one. 

Care to ... expound? I helped them produce a bunch of categories, so as long as any of those people I worked with are there, which so many of them are lifers, I'm never going to be able to participate. 

You can say hi to Diana and send her all your food-laced thoughts and musings at

Things we should move on to for $2,000, Alex (may he rest in peace): this week's food news. 

Be my Levantine

In Diana's Southwest Florida debut, she put an Eastern Mediterranean spin on romance. These Levantine restaurants from across the area serve so much more than pita and hummus; think sfeeha, labnah and fava-laced foule mudammas. Or don't think. Just go and eat your heart out. Read on in Naples Daily News and The News-Press

Eat like a Bengal

Cincinnati Bengals fans — exist? Apparently all it takes is a jaw-dropping playoff run and the end to a 33-year Super Bowl drought for the "Who Dey" crowd to dust off their orange and black and reemerge from the woodwork. This feels especially true in Southwest Florida, where Ohioan is our second language. To celebrate this feat, I've got some classic Queen City foods and where to find them in SWFL — in The NP and NDN

From Turco to Simit

The owners of Turco Taco have taken that fresh, fast-casual approach and applied it to the street foods of their homelands in Turkey and Macedonia. The result is Simit Fresh Mediterranean in Naples, a place for shaved-from-the-spit doner, peppery ajvar and beautifully smoky baba ghanoush. I got a first taste in NDN and The NP

The Year of the Tiger

Perhaps the Bengals' Super Bowl run should be no surprise. This is, after all, the Year of the Tiger. Lunar New Year has come and gone, but it's never too late to enjoy some lucky dumplings, golden and prosperous spring rolls and sticky-rice dishes for togetherness. I'll tell you where to find them in The NP and NDN

What else?

• A beloved Cape Coral-based taco truck is soon closing its doors (er, window), and it'll be at least another year before the Naples Greek Festival returns. Dave Osborn has your dining news in NDN and The NP

• For more than a decade, Figs Grille in Bonita Springs has been wowing diners from the corner of a strip mall. Gina Birch takes us there and Off the Eaten Path in The NP and NDN

• Need a last-minute restaurant idea for your Valentine? Dave's got a few in NDN and The NP

• And why not finish your Valentine celebration with some great drinks. Gina has 10 wine/cocktail ideas that are sure to stir romance in The NP and NDN


Full? It happens to the best of us. Bookmark and for the latest from the SWFL dining scene.

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Bon appetit!

Annabelle Tometich

(one of your friendly, local JLBs)

Why can't we be friends? Follow our JLBs as @JeanLeBoeuf on Twitter and Instagram

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. Connect with this reporter:; @atometich (Twitter); @abellewrites (Instagram)