We're in Sarasota for a month. Here are some tasting notes, more to follow.
Gabbiano's on Siesta Key Late meal after arrival. Restaurant was nearly empty. Excellent shrimp dish on tomato sauce with spinach, plus house salad. Superb calamari fritti, crisp and greaseless, and eggplant parmesan. Courteous attentive service.
Carrabba's. Good of its sort. Big, noisy, large portions, knowledgaeable waiter. No reservations, but you can phone ahead to reduce waiting time. We started with a salad and (again) caklamari fritti, which were extraordinarily tender, then a simple petti di pollo dish and their Chicken Bryan, a fussy combination that included goat cheese, best scraped to the side .
Encouraged by the reviews on Chowhound, and seeking a light mostly veg meal, we went to Sweet Tomatoes. This is really an industrial salad bar, plus choice of soups, some pastas and breads. The atmosphere evokes a high school cafeteria, but with willing and pleasant help. Amazingly inexpensive.
Roy's, the Hawaii-based chain. Salad and lemon shrimp for one of us. Three appetizers for the other: charred ahi, pot stickers and spare ribs. All good- the ribs were the best- but no sparkle. It was Super Bowl night, so the place was nearly deserted.
Again, relying on Chowhound comments, we tried the barbecue at The Oaks. This was truly dreck, bearing no resemblance to the advertised pit barbecue (what is in the pit?). Flat, bland, colorless, nearly tasteless meat and sides. Barbecue sauce that seemed to be equally vinegar and ketchup. Feh !!
Met friends from Naples for dinner at Perfect Caper in Punta Gorda, half-way between Naples and Sarasota. This is a serious restaurant worth the trip to a town that unfortunately resembles a huge, abandoned parking lot. Butternut squash soup, pate, calamari fritti (a pattern emerges), a small filet, mahi-mahi, pan-seared scallops, all these on the $20 two-course prix fixe, leaving room for desserts. The room had good energy; the friendly, earnest waiter needed Ritalin