Naples restaurants: Two new grab-and-go cafes open; PJK's Neighborhood Chinese coming soon
Two new Winfield grab-and-go cafes offer more than coffee in Naples. PJK's test kitchen, restaurant coming soon. Marco Island spots go "Very Peri."
A conversation I’ve had over the years with friends who’ve moved from the New York tri-state area to this neck of the woods is the dearth of grab-and-go meal availability, specifically for food you want to eat pronto.
In this week’s news, you’ll meet Winfield Street Coffee's Breno Donatti who noticed it too.
Yes, there are some terrific indie grab-and-go options in Southwest Florida (hello Tony's Off Third, Sauce Lady, Mario's Meat Market!). And most grocery markets have a variety of packaged meals at the ready. But 15 minutes waiting to check out during season kind of eradicates the “go” part of the equation.
For singletons and two-person households, grab-and-go can also be less expensive than shopping for ingredients and preparing from-scratch meals at home, especially if you abide by the motto, “Time is money, honey.”
This week's news also shares kitchen confidential details on a new Naples restaurant concept, plus an on-trend dining idea when visiting Marco Island.
Grab it and go with it
Breno Donatti is the founder of Winfield Street Coffee, a dining chain mainly comprising six grab-and-go kiosks offering breakfast sandwiches, bowls and salads in New York City's affluent Westchester and Fairfield suburbs. Donatti recently opened an outpost on the Q line subway platform at 86th Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, with another planned on the same line at 96th Street.
So, what’s he doing in Naples?
“Our decision to expand to Naples was personal. I moved my wife and kids here and just fell in love with the city," Donatti said. "My wife (Jeanette Vecchione-Donatti) is a renowned opera singer engaged with Opera Naples. Our kids love having a large backyard. The restrictions in the northeast made life pretty miserable. Naples is paradise."
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Noticing how the region is experiencing a huge boom, Donatti believed his business model would be well received given the area's relatively small number of independently owned cafes, bakeries, lunch and breakfast spots.
“I searched for a Naples location for about a year," he said. "Suddenly at the end of 2021, I came across three incredible opportunities. I decided to go big and open all three, really putting stakes in the ground."
Naples' first Winfield Street Coffee kiosk opened at the Coastland Center Mall on Dec. 15. Two more brick-and-mortar outposts are scheduled to open in the coming weeks. First up, planned for April 8, is a Winfield at 1250 Tamiami Trail N, Naples. The space was most recently M&G Farmstand.
When the M&G opportunity came along, Donatti realized he could "add value by acquiring their incredible reputation and hiring their chefs, including Chef Nelson Brisson who has worked there for about 25 years."
Winfield Street Coffee mainly offers corporate catering, but with the M&G acquisition, they will add high-end catering options.
The next Winfield is planned for April 25 at 13800 Tamiami Trail N, Naples, replacing a former Subway.
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Both locations will feature extensive grab-and-go packaged items prepared daily. Breakfast sandwiches are priced $3.25-$9.50; a breakfast rice bowl with egg, avocado, chicken and sweet potato is $11.50; lunch items range from $9.50-$14.
"We opened our business here so we can support the surrounding community with new coffee and breakfast options while also promoting, partnering with, and sponsoring local initiatives and businesses including local artisans, artists and churches," Donatti said.
And like most Southwest Florida hospitality businesses, they’re hiring.
Hours vary by location; visit winfieldcoffee.com to learn more.
PJK’s Neighborhood Chinese coming to Naples
An update about the former Bill’s Cafe space at 947 Third Ave. N.: As reported last week, it is becoming a test kitchen — but not for PF Chang’s.
According to Jody Goodenough-Fleming, the CEO of Paul Fleming Restaurants which created P.F. Chang's and the Fleming's Prime Steakhouse chain, the test kitchen will be used for all of the Fleming concepts.
“The kitchen ... will be used for research and recipe development for all of our restaurants, one being PJK’s Neighborhood Chinese, a new concept," Goodenough-Fleming said.
The first PJK's restaurant is under construction in the former Ristorante Ciao space at 835 Fourth Ave. S., Naples, with a planned opening for fall.
Goodenough-Fleming’s husband, Paul Fleming, is one of America’s best-known restaurateurs and conceptualizers. In addition to creating P.F. Chang’s and Fleming's, other restaurants under his purview include Pei Wei and Paul Martin’s American Grill (Martin is Fleming's middle name), which has eight locations throughout California, Texas and Arizona.
Executive Chef Paul Muller will helm the new research and development kitchen. He will be in Naples for approximately a year assisting with opening the new PJK's outposts, according to Goodenough-Fleming.
Muller is responsible for developing dishes, perfecting recipes and training chefs and kitchen staff working at Paul Fleming Restaurants. He joined the team in 1995, rising to director of culinary operations. Muller is also chef-consultant for Paul Martin's American Grill and actively involved in all Paul Fleming concepts.
The first PJK’s Neighborhood Chinese will seat approximately 155 guests. The restaurant will include a private dining room and a designated takeout entrance.
Ristorante Ciao closed Mother’s Day 2021 after 34 years in business.
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“We are super excited; the concept is very neighborhood-ish. It’s not a knock-off of P.F. Chang’s, but the quality of the food will be as good if not better,” Fleming said.
PJK’s planned menu includes modern specialty dishes and traditional Chinese staples including Mongolian lamb dumplings; lobster prepared with chilies, ginger, green onions and garlic; and classic chow mein.
“The menu, inspired by the coastal community, is scratch-made and sources only the highest quality ingredients and fresh local seafood,” Goodenough-Fleming said.
This pre-opening research stage is an essential ingredient of any Paul Fleming Restaurant launch.
“Perfecting all recipes before we open any restaurant is important, not when it’s already open. Consistent product and experience are key to success," Goodenough-Fleming said. "Whether you love McDonald’s or not, it is consistent. When traveling in Spain with my daughter many years ago, we found a McDonald’s. I was like, no, we can’t do a McDonald’s here. I have no idea what they’re serving. But she got a Happy Meal, and it was exactly like the Happy Meal she would get in Boise, Idaho. People expect consistency. And great food. And great service. We got it!”
From palette to palate on Marco Island
When Pantone, the undisputed master of color trend prediction, declared ‘Very Peri’ its 2022 shade of the year, chefs at Marco Island’s JW Marriott found inspiration for new dishes in the violet-blue hue at the hotel’s various dining venues.
From cocktails to crudo and dipping sauces, each chef was tasked with imbuing menu items with an on-trend tonal approach.
Damian Manfre is chef de cuisine at Ario, the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant. His "Very Peri" take on snapper crudo incorporates purple borage flowers, which mimic the taste of cucumber while adding pops of color.
Trendy and tasty too.
Diana Biederman is the food and restaurant reporter for Naples Daily News. Send your scoops to firstname.lastname@example.org.