NI’s 2017 Dining Awards: The Cuisine

Best Italian Cuisine: Campiello Ristorante & Bar

Campiello’s Spaghetti Nero, with Maine lobster, serrano chile, and tomato. (Photo by Michael Caronchi)

Inspired by the best kitchens of Tuscany, Campiello’s regular menu shines with the warmth of family-made pastas, wood-fired pizzas, rotisserie meats, and carefully selected wines. Monthly, the kitchen mixes it up with regional or specialty cuisines showcasing the nuances and vast variety of Italian cookery.

Honorable mention: Osteria Tulia

Based in the folk cuisine of Old Italy, the style of cooking at Osteria Tulia refines the rustic with the finest local and imported products and whimsical inventiveness.

Best French Cuisine: Bleu Provence

Bleu Provence’s Butter-Poached Lobster Salad. (Photo by Audrey Snow Photography)

Rooted in the cuisine of the French Riviera province of Provence, its menu explores modern twists and Mediterranean influences. Owners Jacques and Lysielle Cariot moved to Naples from Provence and here they re-create memorable meals from their homeland. Chef Lysielle brightens Old World recipes with local products and a certain je ne sais quoi.

Honorable mention: La Bazenne

A sidewalk café so Parisian, La Bazenne gathers Francophile foodies for tastes of crepes, lovely salads, sandwiches, steak frites, Wagyu bourguignon, coq au vin, fine cheeses, and decadent desserts.

Best Mexican Cuisine: Tacos & Tequila Cantina

Tacos & Tequila Cantina. (Photo by Vanessa Rogers)

Although tacos lie at the heart of its identity, this Tex-Mex cantina covers the popular bases you look for in an authentic Mexican eatery. There are taquitos, rellenos, and warming chicken tortilla soup. Taco alternatives include huevos rancheros, a Mexican burger, burritos, enchiladas, and fajitas.

Honorable mention: Masa

As contemporary as its decor, the menu at Masa adds style to Mexican cuisine with regional nuances and gourmet touches. Newest additions: chile relleno and braised lamb atop a veggie tamale.

Zen Asian BBQ’s twist on classic ramen dishes. (Photo by Michael Caronchi)

Best Asian Cuisine: Zen Asian BBQ

Modern Asian restaurants such as Zen address the rich confluence of cuisine across the continent. Its hallmark style includes Korean and Japanese barbecue, sushi, gourmet ramen specialties, fusion dishes like kimchee fried rice, and Asian classics with an American point of reference, such as tuna pizza.

Honorable mention: Sushi-Thai

Combining two favorite Asian culinary traditions, Sushi-Thai serves lunch and dinner with traditional entrées from Japan as well as sushi and Thai classics.

Best Seafood: USS Nemo Undersea Cuisine & Adventures

You may have heard the expression “if it were any fresher, you’d be under water.” Well, USS Nemo, with its tasteful submarine setting, takes you figuratively under water with seafood dishes that start with fresh fish and end with fine, creative presentations, such as its ever-popular signature dish: miso-broiled sea bass with a citrus-ginger butter sauce.

Honorable mention: Truluck’s Seafood, Steak, Crab House

With its own fisheries in local waters, Truluck’s has no problem promising “fresh.” Famous for its seasonal stone crab, it excels in seafood dishes from jumbo lump crab cake to Pacific swordfish steak.

Best Global Cuisine: Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro

Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro’s Joojeh Kabob, served with zereshk polo rice. (Photo by Vanessa Rogers)

Ancient and modern culinary traditions are combined in one of Naples’ most exotic restaurants. Iranian owner-chef Michael Mir cooks up delights such as lamb kabob, plum lamb khoresh, duck fesenjune, and pomegranate lacquered fresh salmon. The setting is equally exotic—think Arabian Nights meets Art Deco.

Honorable mention: Lamoraga International Cuisine & Tapas

While taking cues from the Spanish tapas tradition, Lamoraga also expands to offer a well-rounded selection of American, European, and global specialties such as sliders, paella, miso-marinated grilled pork, and fig tart.

Best Healthy Cuisine: Seasons 52

Season 52’s Winter Scallops.

A menu that counts your calories for you, but without depriving you of profound flavors and satisfying creations: That’s Seasons 52, whose menu is designed for portion control and good-for-you noshing, from the martinis to the dessert “shots.” A sampling: Pomegranate Margarita Martini, Blackened Steak & Blue Cheese Flatbread, Caramelized Grilled Scallops, and ending with a Belgian Chocolate S’More.

The Local’s variety of farm-to-table dishes.

Honorable mention: The Local

Besides sourcing locally, it procures as much organic as possible. The menu lists vegan and vegetarian selections, and the only thing frozen is the house-made ice cream.

Best Farm-to-Table Experience: The Local

Deeply committed to sourcing its produce, seafood, and meat from Florida whenever possible, The Local preserves seasonal crops, whole fish, and livestock in clever ways that include making its own charcuterie, pates, salsas, pickles, preserves, and frozen desserts. From kale to clams, ingredients come from local farms and end up in healthy, delicious dishes.

Honorable mention: Café & Bar Lurcat

Lurcat’s menu lists eight farm vendors with whom Executive Chef Mike Mueller has developed close relationships, particularly for the market/seasonal section of his menu.

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