Continuing a notable string of Italian restaurants, MareTerra Ristorante opened Monday off U.S. 41 in Bonita Springs.
The address in Southern Exposure Plaza on Trails Edge Boulevard south of Bonita Beach Road most recently was home to Palladio Trattoria for five years, but during a 20-year span, the popular restaurant space also hosted Fabio Trattoria Italiana, Anthony’s Trattoria and Noodles Cafe. After serving northern Italian cuisine for five years, Palladio closed last July.
Longtime Naples restaurateur Sal Sinzieri is behind the new MareTerra, which translates to sea and land. Born in Sicily, Sinzieri moved from Italy to New York City in 1961 when he was 11. After working at Bice Ristorante in New York for about 15 years, he opened a restaurant by the same name on Fifth Avenue South in Naples about 20 years ago. Sinzieri later launched MiraMare and Fish at the Village Shops on Venetian Bay in Naples.
Although MareTerra’s menu is extensive, Sinzieri said it’s an abbreviated menu for the summer. In addition to the regular menu of starters, salads, pasta, main courses, pizza and desserts, MareTerra offers a special “first seating” three-course prix fixe menu from 4 to 6 p.m. Entrees include branzino, black grouper, beef fillets, prawns, chicken paillard, calf liver and roasted rack of lamb.
Sinzieri said the entire menu is excellent but pointed out some personal favorites when pressed to do so. “I like the paella, first of all. I did that at Fish. It’s my recipe. It did very good,” he said. “The Surf and Turf is good. The shrimp, we’re using the U4’s, big shrimp. The salmon tartare with prosciutto di tonno, the beef tartare is excellent.”
Other dishes Sinzieri highly recommends include Gamberi alla Siciliana, skewered shrimp with peppers, onion and lemon topped with Reggiano parmigiana and bread crumbs; and the Scaloppa di Vitello alla Milanese, a veal cutlet topped with baby tomatoes, arugula and parmesan. Plus, he says the pizzas are extraordinary. The signature MareTerra pie features broccolini, buffalo mozzarella, Italian sausage, anchovy oil and heirloom tomatoes.
A local diner on Wednesday night praised MareTerra’s linguine alle vongole—pasta with littleneck clams, garlic and parsley. ‘I’ve had linguine vongole for years and years and years and this is the best I’ve ever had,” said Hal “Max” Parrish, noting that the linguine was prepared al dente, as it should be, and it had just a hint of heat.
Parrish and his wife split their time between their Bonita Springs condo and a home in Manassas, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. “We’re back and forth all the time and looking for great places to eat. This is going to be one of them,” he said.
The restaurant’s interior was extensively remodeled to modernize the space. Brightly colored chairs and modern artwork punctuate a room with white tablecloths and a coffered ceiling. A full bar lines up with an open kitchen along one wall.
Sinzieri still plans to add bi-fold doors near the end of the quartz-topped bar to open up the space to the outdoor bar seating. On the other end of the front patio is space for outdoor dining. The restaurant has about 170 seats, including 18 on a raised area at the rear of the dining room.
MareTerra, 28340 Trails Edge Blvd., is open 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and closed Mondays for now. In November, the restaurant will be open every day for lunch and dinner with a late-night menu.