Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A "round robin" of Sanibel restaurants.

As visitors and residents alike know, Sanibel Island has many wonderful restaurants and eateries. When you're a guest with Sanibel Holiday, you'll receive an arrival bag at check-in filled with information about the islands including the all-important dining guide, featuring menus from almost every eatery on Sanibel and Captiva. Whether you are looking for fresh local seafood, eclectic bistro fare or something in between, you can find it on the island; and, you'll find some of your favorites in new locations this year.

The Sanibel Deli and Coffee Factory recently opened on Palm Ridge Road; they're in the plaza across from CVS Pharmacy. With breakfast items such as fresh muffins and egg sandwiches available all day, plus a delicious lunch menu that is priced right (nothing over $7.50 here), organic coffees and fresh pastries it gets a "thumbs up" from my co-workers who have enjoyed lunch there. The same can be said for the Twilight Cafe, which received 4 stars from the News-Press's famous restaurant critic Jean Le Boeuf in January. The cafe, which used to be located at 751 Tarpon Bay Road in one of Sanibel's historic homes, reopened in November 2008 in the former Riveria restaurant location at 2761 West Gulf Drive.

When Twilight closed about two years ago, the Red Fish Blu Fish eatery migrated from Captiva to Sanibel and opened in at the same location. Chef Melissa Talmage took over the reins of Red Fish Blu Fish when co-owner Gaye Levine passed away, eventually changing the name to Sweet Melissa's Cafe and revamping the menu. She has now expanded the restaurant, which reopened on February 12th in the former La Vigna location at 1625 Periwinkle Way. The space has undergone a complete renovation and includes an outdoor patio, full bar and fresh decor.

Now you may be wondering if that cozy little historic spot at 751 Tarpon Bay Road is destined to sit vacant....the good news is that it has a new resident too! Il Tesoro Ristorante opened last week and is the newest dining establishment on the island. Translated, Il Tesoro means "The Treasure" in Italian. Owners A.J. Black (also the executive chef) and his wife Joelene plan to offer dishes with an emphasis on local and regionally available ingredients. The restaurant even has it's own herb garden which will inspire many of the selections. A.J and Joelene have owned and operated several restaurants including Il Fresco in Naples, Opera Ristorante in Bonita Springs and Villa Pazzo in New York City. Rumor has it that Madonna and actress Julianne Moore are regulars there. I wonder if they will make their way to the island to try the food at A.J.'s newest eatery?

Confusing? Perhaps a bit, but a drive around Sanibel will have you acclimated to the new locations in no time. Stay tuned, we'll let you know what other dining delights make their debut on the islands!