At least a dozen new restaurants opened post-season this spring in Collier and Lee counties. Considering that the seasonal surge of visitors and snowbirds in Southwest Florida usually ends by Easter, which was April 17 this year, these restaurants missed the sweet spot for 2022 but still hope to attract year-round residents.
Most of the new dining destinations that have opened since Easter are in the Naples area. The cuisines represented include Argentinian, American, Asian, French and Mexican. The new selections, ranging from casual to fine dining, include neighborhood hangouts, pizzerias, sandwich shops and brunch spots.
Olympia Pizza just opened today in the Davis Boulevard unit that previously was home to Red’s Pizzeria and Twisted Cheesery, which recently closed at the end of the season. Olympia Pizza is owned by the same family who operated Olympia Bar Restaurant for many years across the street. In addition to pizza, the pizzeria’s menu has Greek favorites such as gyros, spinach pie, hummus, stuffed grape leaves and baklava.
EJ’s Meridian Café and Jet’s Pizza both opened Thursday in North Naples. It’s the second location for EJ’s, where Eric Becker has served his popular eggs Benedict varieties and more at EJ’s Bayfront Café for 10 years in Naples. The new restaurant replaced Meridian Café, another local breakfast-lunch spot in Meridian Marketplace, fronting Pine Ridge Road just east of Livingston Road. The Jet’s chain, especially known for its Detroit-style pizza, brought its third Collier location to Vanderbilt Commons retail center on Vanderbilt Beach Road just west of Collier Boulevard.
Earlier this week, both The 239 Naples and El Nido Mexican restaurant launched at Mercato in North Naples and Coconut Point in Estero, respectively. Both full-service restaurants with full bars undertook extensive and detailed renovations of previous dining spaces at their regional, mixed-use retail centers. The 239 is a locally sourced farm-to-table concept with an extensive menu for food and cocktails, while El Nido offers Latin American cuisine, classic Mexican fare, top-shelf tequila and single-origin Latin American coffees.
Winfield Sandwich Shoppe launched its second area location May 4 in North Naples, less than a month from when it introduced its first in Naples. The newest shop from Naples resident Breno Donatti replaced a Subway franchise on the corner of U.S. 41 and Old 41 Road. Winfield shop offers breakfast, lunch and catering daily.
Another half-dozen area restaurants opened in late April. Among those are Mila Bistro, which specializes in a variety of traditional Argentinian empanadas and milanesas—the South American variation of a wiener schnitzel breaded cutlet. Mila moved into the North Naples space where Old Europe Bistro operated for 18 years in Naples Walk on the southeast corner of Airport-Pulling and Vanderbilt Beach roads.
The Sen Asian Noodle Bar opened at Restaurant Row in East Naples. The locally owned restaurant is operated by Naples residents Wattana Suvapong and Thuy To in the former Pei Wei restaurant space next to Chipotle Mexican Grill. The restaurant features a variety of Asian noodle dishes and menu items such as stir fry, crab rangoon, pad Thai, shrimp fried rice and sushi.
K.C.’s Parrot 41 Bar & Grill and Le Martinique French Cuisine & Bakery also debuted in late April. Parrot 41, Patrick Daly’s spinoff of his former Parrot Bar & Grill in Naples, moved into the former space of That Taco Place at Courthouse Shadows, where Airport-Pulling Road meets U.S. 41 East in East Naples. Le Martinique opened across U.S. 41 from Wynn’s Market in Naples with a menu of Caribbean galettes, quiche, roti wraps and more.
Two sushi-based restaurants started rolling on April 20 in the North Naples area. The second location of Fuji Sushi Bar & Asian Bistro from Jon and On Augsondthung opened a newly developed space in The Pointe at Founders Square on the southeast corner of Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard. The fifth location of Sushi Thai Too was launched by Naples residents Torong and Chef Sathit “Todd” Boonyavairoj in the former space of Cirella’s Neighborhood Bistro and Bar in Vanderbilt Commons near the northwest corner of Vanderbilt Beach Road and Collier Boulevard.
Many new eateries are still gearing up to launch within the next week or two, so expect more new dining opportunities this month. In addition to Twisted Cheesery, other local restaurants that recently closed include Beach Box Cafe and Mangino’s Pizza Bar in North Naples and Mastello’s Ristorante in south Fort Myers.