Osteria Tulia’s Grouper Aqua Pazza
Photo by Vanessa Rogers
At Osteria Tulia (239-213-2073), you get your first taste of the imagination and talent in play here at the bar. On a warm Florida day, the Fiori refreshes with passion-fruit nectar, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, muddled raspberries and limonata, a sparkling lemon-flavored beverage. Or you can order a classic Sazerac or Negroni.
The restaurant’s warm indoor-outdoor setting, combined with a cocktail that clearly celebrates the good life, immediately has a relaxing effect, like home. Rustic wood and repurposed bricks set the stage for Chef Vincenzo Betulia’s Italian farmhouse vision. His lovingly house-made ingredients complement the setting with hearty fare from the Italian countryside and old seaports.
With a few exceptions, much of the wine comes from Italy, as do some of the cheeses and charcuterie. Chef Betulia, however, makes some of his own sausages in-house, along with from-scratch pastas and other ingredients. Greens and other produce, meat and seafood come largely from local farms and fisheries.
All combine to bring Old World flavors to the table in new, exciting ways. Small plates of caramelized Brussels sprouts, crispy fried pig ears with fennel-chili salt, wood-charred octopus, and warm prosciutto puffs get dinner started. There’s wood-fired pizza and pasta for lunch and dinner. Try the Four Seasons pizza with sausage, mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs and olives. The garganelli pasta dish is intense—artisanal penne tossed with a braised-lamb Bolognese-type sauce and sheep cheese.
Caramelized Brussels sprouts
The local black grouper in “crazy water” is a winner on the dinner entrée menu. The Florida-sourced porchetta comes with braised white beans; the slow-braised Colorado lamb shank with fire-roasted peperonata and socca flatbread.
Leave room for such decadent, original desserts as roasted pineapple bread pudding with Champagne-vinegar caramel and spiced pecans, or chocolate red wine devil’s cake with marshmallow-peppercorn meringue.
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