AOL Travel
Print

Best Naples Restaurants

AOL PICK from our Editors
Like other things in Naples, the dining scene has diversified and improved dramatically over the past decade. The clubby confines of hotel dining rooms—which still offer excellent fare—are now rivaled by a raft of local restaurants that embrace everything from regional Italian to world fusion to (a few) ethnic specialists. We wouldn’t suggest flying here for a culinary tour, but the nearby Gulf is a never-ending source of fresh, flavorful seafood, so focus on menu items that incorporate the fresh fish, shrimp and crabs and you’ll have an experience that’s tasty and local.

Bistro 821

Neighborhood: Old Naples Price: Expensive
Despite being located in the heart of the Fifth Avenue boutique district, Bistro 821 is hip, not stuffy and the food has garnered a loyal following. The menu is all over the map—literally—taking diners from the deep South (chicken pot pie) to southern Italy (veal scaloppini with lemon pecorino crust) to the South Pacific (ginger-, honey- and soy-glazed salmon) to Southeast Asia (sugar cane skewered prawns with Thai chili sauce) and back to South Florida (pot roast with mashed potatoes). Chef Jess Housman has an admirable history of cooking with hot-shot chefs such as Todd English and Jacques Pepin, and here he has carved a niche for himself with original, reliably good dishes of his own invention. If the temperatures are suitable, get a table outside on the street and people-watch while you down one of Housman’s awesome Ahi rolls.

More Details on

Bistro 821 »

Campiello

Neighborhood: Old Naples Price: Expensive
The original Campiello is in Minneapolis, but snowbird fans convinced the D’Amico brothers to open a branch in Naples so they wouldn’t have to miss their favorites while avoiding those frigid Minnesota winters. It wasn’t a hard sell. Setting is everything, and with a space in the historic Naples Mercantile Building, the brothers cooked up a gracious Florentine-inspired interior, complete with lush leather banquettes, Murano glass chandeliers and hand-painted Florentine murals. The D’Amicos are second-generation Italian and second-generation restaurateurs, and the food is reflective of their love for the Old Country—homemade pastas, wood-oven-fired pizzas, and seafood such as pan-roasted grouper with baby artichokes and potato puree. Typical fare from Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna runs more to hearty meats, so balsamic-glazed beef short ribs (stellar) and the osso buco are signature dishes. They also give a nod to the Sicily (they make a killer marinara) and to inventive dishes that mix in local ingredients, such as the brodetto, a seafood stew with Key West shrimp, and grilled swordfish served with Sicilian eggplant caponata. The wine list has outstanding regional Italian selections, from the $750 Barolo Riserva, Giacomo Borgogno & Figli 1961 down to the more-affordable Lodali Nebbiolo at $60. If you’re not in the mood to drop big bucks, the lunch menu has many of the same items in smaller portions (for smaller prices) and you can still enjoy the great atmosphere and the outdoor bar.

More Details on

Campiello  

Andre's Steakhouse

Neighborhood: Moorings Price: Expensive
If you’re a fan of Peter Luger’s in New York, this may be your place. This is straight out of their playbook: dark interior and great steaks, period. The owner, Andre Cottoloni, is from New York and for more than 15 years he’s offered a simplified menu of steaks, chops and lobster, along with the starters you’d expect, like lettuce wedges with bleu cheese. No one comes here for fusion cuisine or great innovation; they come for the meat. Have a porterhouse (for two) with a couple of glasses of the house cab and, if there’s any room left, maybe a slice of cheesecake.

More Details on

Andre's Steakhouse »

Fernandez the Bull

Neighborhood: Royal Harbor
Price: Moderate
It means something when a family-run restaurant builds a reputation for quality and consistency in a finicky town like Naples, particularly when it comes to specialized cuisine. And the Cuban fare that’s come to be expected here is special, even the staples like Lechon Asado (roast pork in garlic and lemon sauce) and Ropa Vieja (shredded flank steak afloat in tomato, onions and green peppers). There are places in Florida with a wider variety of Cuban restaurants, but Fernandez fills the niche in little Naples ably. The side dishes (yuca, black beans and rice) and corquettas appetizers are outstanding. Same for the platano maduros (ripe plantains fried in butter and oil until caramelized). Desserts are of the typical variety, Tres Leches and Flan de la Casa being the standouts. Try it for lunch and order the Media Noche—a different take on the classic Cuban sandwich.

More Details on

Fernandez the Bull  

Mangrove Cafe

Neighborhood: Old Naples Price: Moderate
The international nature of the menu selections here reflects this restaurant’s motto of “Think Global, Eat Local.” Even the appetizer list is a mélange of Italian- and Asian-influenced items, like caprese di Parma and a duck confit spring roll. The entrée section is short and sweet, with approximately a dozen offerings on any given night—recently, seafood paella was offered alongside my sweet and sour snapper, pot roast and rigatoni Bolognese. Oftentimes when a restaurant dares to venture into international territory, it falters somewhere, but Mangrove Cafe does not. Its formula works, and has for decades. Be sure to make a reservation, as the small dining room fills up fast and early.

More Details on

Mangrove Cafe »

Little Italy

Neighborhood: Royal Harbor
Price: Moderate
This cozy restaurant has dishes on the menu that you normally would only be privy to in an Italian home, like piping hot homemade rice balls stuffed with meat and cheese and served with sauce for dipping. Indulge in mouthwatering offerings, such as veal Romana, medallions wrapped with prosciutto and cheese and served with sherry wine sauce, or our favorite, the country-style chicken—so popular, it’s been on the menu for over 20 years—which is simply chicken cooked with peppers, mushrooms, onions, potatoes and virgin olive oil and spices. Seafood entrees and pasta (try the cavatelli Bolognese) are also eye-rolling good. Portions are mountainous, so plan on sharing to get the optimum experience.

More Details on

Little Italy  

Naples Flatbread & Wine Bar

Neighborhood: Pine Ridge
Price: Budget
The Neapolitan pizza and Tuscan flatbreads are the headliners here and they deserve to be, but if you’re in the mood for crusty-topped Tuscan farfalle pasta with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes, gourmet mac-and-cheese, a crispy-yet-creamy grilled panini (try The Athenian—rich lamb and caramelized onion slathered with tzatziki) or even a salad (which seems like a rather crazy choice here, but hey, it’s your party), you’ve got plenty of options. There’s even a dessert flatbread, and it’s big enough to share: mascarpone cheese, chocolate-hazelnut spread, and crumb topping baked till gooey.

More Details on

Naples Flatbread & Wine Bar  

Old Naples Pub

Neighborhood: Old Naples Price: Budget
This is the perfect place to stop for lunch or for a casual dinner, followed by a walk to the nearby Pier. The atmosphere is lively and fun—a pianist seated at the old tavern piano cranks out tunes while diners indulge—and it’s family-friendly, lest you think the term “pub” means you shouldn’t bring the kids. The menu isn’t particularly innovative, though the excellent mahi tacos are a pleasantly unusual find among the crab cakes, fish and chips, baby back ribs and half-dozen kinds of burgers. The food is consistently hearty and good.

More Details on

Old Naples Pub  

Alice Sweetwater’s Neighborhood Bar & Grille

Neighborhood: Royal Harbor
Price: Budget
The original location for what’s now a two-store operation has been pumping out good food for 22 years in what looks like an old clapboard house. It's in a nondescript part of town, but the casual lunches and dinners get rave reviews from the regulars. As casual and inexpensive as it is, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find top-notch seafood on the menu, The grouper comes in fresh daily, the fried shrimp is crunchy and light, gator nuggets are as tender as cake, and the lobster BLT, well, is just plain yummy. But the choices continue, and they’re vast; everything from shredded barbecue pork on a bun to an open-face veggie sandwich to Mediterranean chicken linguine. 

More Details on

Alice Sweetwater’s Neighborhood Bar & Grille  

First Watch

Neighborhood: Coquina Sanda
Price: Budget
Open for breakfast and lunch only, the sun-dappled dining room is always packed, so expect to wait. But if you relish a hot, made-to-order stack of banana crunch granola pancakes or a fluffy omelet bursting with roasted peppers, spinach and Feta cheese to get your day started, you won’t mind. For lunch, you may have trouble deciding between heaping salads like a Pecan Dijon, with chicken breast, avocado, pecans, cheese and veggies, or one of the many overstuffed sandwiches, from the healthy—like the Not Guilty, Your Honor with veggies and feta on a wheat tortilla and hummus on the side—to the more decadent, such as a Cheese to the 5th Degree, with four kinds of cheese melted between Parmesan-crusted sourdough.

More Details on

First Watch  
See All Naples Restaurants »
ADVERTISEMENT