Izzy’s Fish & Oyster, 2282 First St., Fort Myers, (239) 337-4999, izzysftmyers.com
WHY WE LOVE IT: When Miami Beach-based chef Jamie DeRosa announced he was bringing his New England-focused seafood spot to Fort Myers, anyone who was crabby from the news that the French Connection had closed was uplifted by the idea of a sophisticated (yet casual) dining experience filling the vacated River District space. DeRosa is now anchored to the neighborhood. He has closed his Miami restaurant to relocate here and is opening an on-trend new bar in June, Downtown Social House, with his business partners, that’s a brisk walk from Izzy’s and the Caloosahatchee.
IDEAL MEAL: Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re steps away from Nantucket Sound, with a pick-and-choose raw bar menu in one hand (a tasty primer on Massachusetts waters) and a lobster roll (one of the best in the country per Zagat) in the other. Hungry for more? Beantown favorites like chowder and steamers are also there; plus a great sampling of the Chesapeake (crab cakes, baby, Maryland-style) as well as local staples like snapper snatched from the Gulf and a clever hogfish Reuben.
VIBE: We’re hooked on the pretty mosaic tiling that greets you as you walk in and the sea of driftwood-esque flooring beyond. Curl up in a quiet table after a long work day or slide onto a stool at the lengthy marble-capped bar to start a night of fun, sipping on one of the proprietary cocktails or craft brews from Narragansett and other towns with breweries lining the North Atlantic.