I just could not wait one more second to write about some very exciting news. Let me begin with MASA, the brand new restaurant in Mercato from the D’Amico family—the Minneapolis group who brought Cafe & Bar Lurcat, Campiello and D’Amico & Sons to Naples. Bob and I plus two friends were privileged to be included in the VIP soft opening last Monday. The place is gorgeous. Some brilliant person actually thought of decorating the walls with live plants and flowers. The bar area is spectacular, as are the chandeliers, which provide perfect lighting. By the way, we found out later that some of the “living wall”—herbs, specifically—are used by the chef as he creates in the kitchen.
Our roles, along with the other guests, were to be “guinea pigs” for new wait staff and to test the food and beverages. We were each given a choice of a margarita or similar beverage, one appetizer, one entrée and a dessert to share. Bob and I chose the Diabolical margarita because we were told it had some serious kick to it—and it did. We both love spicy stuff, so this delicious margarita was right up our alley. I had the guacamole appetizer, which was served with both fresh vegetables and chips to dip. The guacamole was so good, I mostly just gobbled it with my spoon. Bob had the calamari appetizer and announced it was by far the best appetizer ever. The entrées were equally wonderful—I had shrimp, Bob chose chicken—and we just loved everything. I was too full for dessert, so Bob took that task on, and he adored that too. It is thrilling to have a D’Amico restaurant in North Naples—especially in Mercato. For reservations, the phone number for MASA is 239-598-0887.
Part 2 of the exciting news also relates to Mercato. A new transportation service is starting on December 6 called JOE, for Jump On Express. It will be a complimentary service subsidized by local business owners and operators to transport folks to and from Mercato to Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South. JOE will operate Thursday through Saturday every 30 minutes, beginning at 6 p.m. and continuing until 2 a.m. The stops will be in front of Bravo! Cucina Italiana at Mercato, Third Street South at 12th Avenue, and Fifth Avenue South at East Lake Drive. There will be a JOE 1 and a JOE 2. To check out the shuttle’s exact schedule, log on to www.jumponexpress.com. Did I mention JOE is free? What a great idea—traveling to three fabulous destinations to party and not having to drive. Priceless … and safe.