Restaurants and food: The American dream comes to life in Naples, Fort Myers

Diana Biederman
Naples Daily News

This week's theme: flour power and the American dream.

In Fort Myers, we'll visit Michael Lorient, who hails from Haiti. While his family has built success with pizza franchises in Florida, he wanted to strike out on his own, making a difference in his Fort Myers neighborhood by creating artisanal pies with impeccably sourced ingredients.

Next, you'll meet a Naples couple from Italy who makes delicious pasta for Collier County's toniest restaurants and private clubs, plus private-labeled offerings for Southwest Florida's specialty grocers. Their new retail storefront has so many carryout options you could eat a different meal for 100 days and not duplicate a dinner.

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Jam-packed parking lots are always a good sign which proves true at a new Asian fusion spot in East Naples where noodles rule the menu. Finding a slot for my SUV throughout the week was competitive. 

Read on why Southwest Florida remains among America's best dining destinations.

Michael Lorient, owner and founder of Quality N.Y. Style Pizza in Dunbar, displays his supreme style pie Saturday, May 7, 2022. Lorient began the business from the ground up with his own artisanal pizzas and more in the Fort Myers' Dunbar neighborhood.

Tasting the difference in Dunbar

Chef-owner Lorient helms Quality N.Y. Style Pizza at Quality of Life Center of Southwest Florida, whose mission is providing underserved youth with opportunities.

He arrived in the Fort Lauderdale-Miami area from Haiti when he was 10. Although his family went on to own several Papa John's franchises, he envisioned something different and struck out on his own, opening his restaurant in late March. He initially moved to Southwest Florida to work at his uncle's pizzeria, but he had different ideas.

"In my community, there's a lack of pizza and restaurants in general. I wanted to help the community and thought, what's the best way? Through food and entertainment," Lorient said.

Michael Lorient, owner and founder of Quality N.Y. Style Pizza in Dunbar, cuts his supreme style pie Saturday, May 7, 2022. Lorient began the business from the ground up with his own artisanal pizzas and more in the Fort Myers' Dunbar neighborhood.

"My style is more gourmet pizza. Everything is fresh with high-quality ingredients cooked from scratch." 

Watching Lorient toss dough is reminiscent of an athletic feat. He confessed recipe development for perfecting his pie dough and sauce has taken "thousands of attempts." 

His passion for baking and its precision leads to a better product. "It's more than cheese and sauce. Many factors go into making a better pizza. You need high-quality water or it won't taste good. If you put the sugar before the salt, it won't come out right."

"Our customers are our No. 1 priority. In addition to feeding the community, we also make sure we're giving back. Nothing makes me happier than teaching pizza-making to kids, where each pupil is given dough and coached on stretching it correctly." 

Michael Lorient, owner and founder of Quality N.Y. Style Pizza in Dunbar, tosses dough for his supreme style pie Saturday, May 7, 2022. Lorient began the business from the ground up with his own artisanal pizzas and more in the Fort Myers' Dunbar neighborhood.

Once sauce, cheese and toppings are added, Lorient puts their preparations in the oven for them to share at home. Group lessons hosting up to 25 ($10 per child) must be arranged in advance and are usually scheduled Fridays. 

"Every time I sell a pizza, money is put aside for families in need. We are focused on making a difference."

In addition to slices and whole pies, Lorient's restaurant also serves pasta, salads, handhelds and desserts.

(3210 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Fort Myers; 239-334-2996)

Michael Lorient, owner and founder of Quality N.Y. Style Pizza in Dunbar, prepares his cannoli style dessert pie Saturday, May 7, 2022. Lorient began the business from the ground up with his own artisanal pizzas and more in the Fort Myers' Dunbar neighborhood.

Trulli scrumptious

Like an ice cream truck is to kids, when Trulli Meals delivers its prepared fresh-frozen feasts and fares to communities like Pelican Marsh, Treviso Bay, Naples Reserve, Windstar and more, people come out. 

As wholesale pasta purveyor to 25 of Naples' best-known restaurants and country clubs, Italian-born co-founders Barbara Gallone and chef Domenico Bosco opened a retail storefront April 30 in East Naples near Interstate 75.

Trulli Meals co-founders chef Domenico Bosco and Barbara Gallone opened a retail storefront for their popular varieties of pasta and main courses.

High-quality Italian semolina and eggs are the only ingredients for various-shaped pasta packaged by the pound, some infused with beets, turmeric and kale ($7-$12.) I purchased charcoal linguini ($11), tossing it with Gallone’s easy recipe for butter-sauteed scallops and parsley, revealing a subtly rich, unique flavor. Single-serve entrees are prepared sous-vide ($18-20) to retain each protein’s juiciness as are more than a dozen sauces ($11-$18) for pairing. Best-sellers include lasagna Bolognese ($27), which serves two, and pizza ($15). Semolina loaves ($10) weigh a pound.

Truly Meals' charcoal pasta exudes a subtly-rich flavor.

(3887 Mannix Drive, suite 608-609, Naples; 239-263-8009; trullipasta.com)

New to Restaurant Row

The Sen Asian Noodle Bar opened on “Restaurant Row” in East Naples and it’s already packed. The menu comprises popular favorites including tom yum soup, Massaman curry, and duck pad Thai. The location was formerly Pei-Wei, and offers inside and outside seating. 

(6821 Collier Blvd., Naples; 239-304-9652)

Interior view of TheSen Asian Noodle Bar on Restaurant Row in East Naples, Fla.

Beer Travels

Southwest Florida’s “Ale Trail Passport Program” kicks off another year offering its holders specials, BOGOs, and more at the region's 21 breweries for $21 through February. Rules apply to all freebies; visit swflaletrail.com for specifics.

Jet ready

As America’s Detroit-style pizza craze continues, one #OG purveyor is Jet’s which is opening its second Naples outpost this week following a month’s delay. In June, they’ll host a grand-opening celebration when every customer scores a free, small one-topping “4-corner pizza,” no purchase necessary; call for details. Another Jet’s is in East Naples. 

(7211 Vanderbilt Beach Road, North Naples; (239-799-5387; jetspizza.com

One night only

Barbatella’s famous 100-layer lasagna returns May 17 for dinner and carryout. Pre-order is required. 

Barbatella's famous 100-layer lasagna returns May 17.

(1290 Third St. S., Naples; (239) 263-1955; barbatellanaples.com)

Diana Biederman is the restaurant and food writer for Naples Daily News. Send your news to diana.biederman@naplesnews.com for consideration.