It’s easy to find veal piccata in Naples, but shrimp and grits is another story. Even in some self-described “Southern” restaurants, authentic dishes are few and far between. Some notable exceptions are The Rooster, which offers chicken and waffles; Cracklin’ Jacks, which serves catfish and gator tail; and Nana’s Diner, where you can start your day with deep-fried bacon, home fries, and a cup of gravy.
But those looking for down-home dishes in upscale, elegant surroundings should head for The Bay House and The Claw Bar (located in the Bellasera Resort). Owner Pete Tierney is a Charleston native, and he infuses his regional, low-country vision into these fine dining establishments. While The Claw Bar opened in 2018, The Bay House was originally owned by the Jennings family and has been operating in town for 35 years, preparing high-quality food from scratch.
“We have a unique operation,” says Jon Roberson, general manager of both establishments. “You don’t find Southern touches anywhere else in Naples in this type of setting. We try to stay true to our roots while putting our own spin on classic dishes.”
A good example is the Charleston Carpetbagger Steak, traditionally stuffed with oysters. At Tierney’s restaurants the filet is grilled, topped with fried oysters, and accented by a bayou remoulade with just a hint of spice. Both menus also feature Nashville hot chicken, and Bay House chef Jamie Knapp brings his New Orleans heritage to bear on dishes such as Oysters Bienville.
What about those elusive shrimp and grits? The Claw Bar combines Anson Mills heirloom grits—stone-ground and hand-milled—with grilled, jerk-spiced shrimp in a roasted-peach barbecue sauce. Your meemaw couldn’t have done much better.