Our winner last year for Best New Restaurant, The Local (239-596-3276), continues to thrill Naples diners with its patent brand of fresh, healthy cuisine. Owner-chef Jeff Mitchell goes to great lengths to bring his customers locally sourced fare. He buys bushels of Florida peaches and turns them into icy granita. He loads up on seasonal vegetables and pickles them. Mitchell drives weekly to Sarasota to meet pork purveyor Palmetto Creek Farms and brings home a whole hog that shows up on the menu as pork chops, gnocchi with pork ragu, and charcuterie he cures himself.
Small and off Naples’ eaten path on Pine Ridge Road, The Local gets many of its fruits and vegetables from Inyoni Organic Farm in Naples and Worden Farm in Punta Gorda, where Mitchell will have the high privilege of appearing as guest chef on January 31 for Worden’s Outstanding in the Field dinner.
The Local’s lunch and dinner menus conscientiously cater to vegetarians and vegans, but also allow guests to splurge on lamb stroganoff made with crème fraîche, pot roast, and irresistible desserts, such as French toast cupcakes, tres leches cake, and peanut butter cake.
The lunch menu features flatbreads such as the Carnivore and the Local Garden Veggie. Mitchell puts dinner’s popular Cowboy Steak—grass-fed beef rubbed with coffee and brown sugar—between bread with avocado and roasted tomato salsa. At dinner, the shrimp comes from the Gulf, clams from a farm in Pine Island, and beef from Jackman’s Ranch in Clewiston.
The restaurant serves local and not so local craft beers, carefully selected wines, and cocktails such as a beet mojito made with beet juice, ginger beer, and Prosecco.
Photos by Vanessa Rogers
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