Many of chef AJ Black’s devoted fans would be surprised to learn that he ended up in Naples by mistake.
In 1995, Black was heading to Miami when he got on the wrong plane. “I was tired,” he admits, “and the gates were next to each other. I got off the plane and discovered I was in Fort Myers. I asked someone in the airport where I could find a good restaurant, and he told me to go to Naples. When I got here, I sat on the beach and realized I was home.”
Black opened Amore in 1997, which he operated for nine years before moving to Il Tesoro on Sanibel Island. When the pandemic forced him to close, he went looking for his next career chapter and found it at The Blue Heron restaurant on Isles of Capri.
“I was fascinated by the location, the way the island intertwined with the water,” he says. “I wanted to have a place where people could get a great meal, based on local ingredients, without spending a fortune. But the restaurant had been there for 40 years and needed a facelift.”
He gutted and remodeled the space, then opened it in October 2020 as Osteria Capri. Black imported a pizza oven from Italy, and he specializes in pristine local seafood. Some of his signature dishes include lobster agrodolce (whole lobster tempura in a sweet and sour sauce) and pan-seared wild salmon finished in a sauce of Dijon mustard and Prosecco. He’s also partial to his grandmother’s recipe for beef short ribs, which he serves with homemade gnocchi.