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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dinner at Bravo

Bravo/Brio is a restaurant chain of about 120 restaurants operating under the Bravo Cucina Italiana, Brio Tuscan Grille and Bon Vie Bistro banners.

There is a Bravo Cucina Italiana (Bravo) in Naples, FL in the mixed use commercial/residential space, Mercato.

I was recently contacted by a PR firm about their 2 course menu that runs through the end of September.

I thought it as very nice of them to reach out to me. I had been here a few times for happy hour (a great value by the way) but never for dinner. The menu looked ok so why not?

Bravo has a number of venues to dine in. You can be outside (a great place to people watch),

and either outdoors

by the bar or indoors there.

They also have a more traditional indoor dining area.

My dining companion (DC) and I were treated to a couple of appetizers from their regular Menu.

The crispy shrimp Napoli was brought out to sample

and something I really liked, the ricotta and ciabatta.

This was a great starter, with in house made ricotta, marinated red peppers, Sopressate, arugula and grilled Ciabatta bread. Very good and a great presentation!

We then got to choose a couple of things from their promotional menu.

The starters from here were a Bravo chopped salad

and the antipasti salad.

I liked the latter salad better because of the meats incorporated into it and the more robust greens. The chopped salad had a surfeit of iceberg lettuce which got a bit soggy.

We then ordered the grilled chicken with sun-dried tomato goat cheese

and the shrimp scampi pasta.

Both of these were very good and worth the maximum charge of $20.00 depending on what you order.

Bravo is a casual dining chain with food that, in the context of casual dining, is quite good. The venue, at least in the Naples, FL market is nice and is a pleasant dining experience. Their promotional 2 course menu through September is a good value, and I hope it brings them business in the off season.

That's that for another post on Forks.

Bravo Cucina Italiana
9110 Strada PL.
Naples, FL 34108

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Monterey Bay Aquarium and Lunch at The Haute Enchilida

Monterey, CA is a city with an interesting past. Alta (Upper) California was a territory that included Monterey. It was owned by Spain and was acquired by Mexico after their independence from them. 

By Samuel Augustus Mitchell - This file was provided to Wikimedia Commons by Geographicus Rare Antique Maps, a specialist dealer in rare maps and other cartography of the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, as part of a cooperation project.

Monterey Bay was the sole entry place for goods in the entire region. After the Mexican-American War, Alta California became part of the U.S. Shortly thereafter, in 1850, California became a U.S. state.

Monterey Bay is a very picturesque area in Northern California.

It has an abundance of sea life, in no small part due to the Kelp Forests in the area. A robust commercial fishing industry spawned here. The most notable part of this industry was the large number of sardine canneries here. The canneries collapsed in the mid 1950's due to over fishing and other factors; the last cannery closing in the early 1970's. The cannery area of Monterey became famous with the publication of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row.

Today Cannery Row is a commercialized tourist area with shops, for the most part, full of quite unmemorable gee gaws such as t-shirts, fudge and sea shells.

There is one diamond on Cannery Row that makes this area worth a visit, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA).

MBA was opened in 1984, largely through the largess of the Packards of Hewlett-Packard. Their daughter, Julie, a marine biologist, is currently Executive Director.

As you enter MBA, there is a large entryway with a gift shop and information center,

but the first thing you notice are the crowds that are there

to view the sea otter exhibit.

MBA had the first kelp forest exhibit of any aquarium.

The viewing area of this exhibit is 28 feet high, and the exhibit is in part made possible through the use of water from Monterey Bay. It is filtered for viewing clarity during the day but not at night allowing plankton and other organisms through which the kelp need to grow.

The Open Sea exhibit is also of note. Schooling fish

and a 1.2 million gallon tank with one of the world's largest single panes of glass

make this a very impressive display.

There are also a variety of interesting sea creatures at MBA including sea nettles (jellyfish),

tube worms,


tube anemones

and other sea life.

There is also a wave machine. It's pretty impressive to see the waves crashing over you from the observation area.

Looking at all this sea life made me hungry.  After a tip from another local,

we headed north up the coastal road to eat at The Haute Enchilada. There are 2 proprietors here, one is a chef and the other is a visual artist.

They have a very nice outdoor dining area

and if you go into the restaurant, a strikingly colorful indoor space.

It was a nice day out, so we ate outside. My dining companion and I decided to try a few things for lunch off their Menu.

We shared a bowl of artichoke bisque.

This was a first for me and it was very good. They use mostly a vegetable broth base for this bisque and just a minimal amount of creme. This preserved the delicate flavor of the artichokes. A reduced beet puree tops off this dish for color.

I ordered the tamale trio.

Mini artichoke/cheese, chicken and carnitas tamales were covered with salsa verde, mole and roasted Poblano chili sauce, respectively. This dish was very good.

Dining companion ordered the Haute Enchilada al Mole.

Chicken, rice, beans and locally grown veggies made the filling The enchilada was topped with a delicious mole sauce, sour cream and cheese. This dish was literally as good as it looks and absolutely delicious.

After this wonderful food, a short walk was in order.

Going around the interestingly landscaped property

behind the restaurant

was a nice collection of one of the proprietor's art.

The restaurant and gallery is almost like Frida Kahlo meets Rick Bayless.

For those who may venture to the area, these venues were a very intriguing mixture of nature and biology and the culinary and visual arts. MBA and The Haute Enchilida are both highly recommended.

That's that for another post on Forks.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA 93940

The Haute Enchilada
7902 Moss Landing Rd.
Moss Landing, CA 95039

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dinner at Cibao Grille

is a restaurant in the Neopolitan Way Shopping Center in Naples, FL.

As you approach the restaurant, there is ample outside seating.

As you enter the Cibao Grille, there is a nice bar area where you can dine

and a more formal dining area

with very well appointed dining tables.

Some very good multigrain and multigrain/raisin rolls are brought to the table while you are perusing the Menu.

My dining companion (DC) and I tried a couple of starters.

I ordered the crab cakes.

I generally do not order crab cakes out as they more often than not seem to be short on the crab and long on the cake.

The crab cakes here were not bad, better than most.

DC had a Cibao Salad, generously provided gratis by the restaurant management.

Mixed greens and watercress were served with a citrus vinaigrette and topped with tomato, Orange Supreme, and hearts of palm. Again, not bad.

For an entree, I ordered the walleye. It was dressed with marinated artichoke hearts, tomato and Bearnaise Sauce

Asparagus and mashed potatoes accompanied the fish. Delicious.

DC ordered Chicken Piccata.

It had been many moons since I have tried this dish and was on par in terms of deliciousness with my fish.

This was a traditional Chicken Piccata with breaded chicken breast, lemon caper butter and mushrooms. It was served with Rapini and in house made linguini dressed with olive oil and parsley. The pasta was very basic and was excellent.

On the whole our meal was very good. The starters were not bad and the entrees over the top delicious. The food served at Cibao is not edgy or experimental. It is good solid food that is very well executed with exceptional service and will keep you happy and coming back for more.

I cannot wait to go back and try a couple more of the entrees.

That's that for another post on forks.

Cibao Grille
814 Neopolitan Way
Naples, FL 34103