Gulf Shore Life’s food and wine editor’s favorites for 2019
After another year of dining, drinking and dining some more—springing out of bed at 5 a.m. with the pros and cons of a particular place weighing heavy on my brain—I’ve come up with my annual list of where you should be dining right now. As per usual, this is technically two separate lists, as we’re a tale of two counties—and the honorable mentions this year should make your itinerary, too. Your belly won’t have any regrets.
221 Ninth St.
It’s a Bay House 2.0 experience, with the classics making the cut—butter-soaked lobster “potholes,” coastal pan roasts and the sent-from-heaven Nashville chicken, a juicy hot-sauce-slicked breast on a bed of savoy cabbage sweetened by a honey gastrique. Chef Andy Hunter, of course, has added some proprietary dishes, including an excellent chipotle roasted lobster tail, his version of oysters Rockefeller with Parmesan and Pernod, and cilantro- and basil-studded street corn.
2110 Ninth St. N.
We shouldn’t have been surprised, knowing who was behind the steering wheel: the dynamic and philanthropic couple Fabrizio and Ingrid Aielli, who have had major success with Sea Salt and Barbatella on Third Street South. Although Dorona is what they’re calling their modern Italian steakhouse, it is so much more than phenomenal cuts of premium meat (and a mashed potato churned with burrata and rosemary that I’d give my right arm for).
There’s also a burrata-topped breaded pork chop with an heirloom tomato salad, salmon that’s seared to a perfect crisp and perched on a pea-flecked al dente cavatelli, and cheeses so fresh they taste like what we ate throughout Italy.
301 Fifth Ave. S.
On the corner where two of Naples’ toniest thoroughfares intersect sits this sumptuous ode to fine dining designed to appeal to the jet-setters with mega-mansions in Port Royal. But that doesn’t—and shouldn’t—mean it is not for you, too.
The Old World elegance is par excellence: all class, all the way. Even though I judge restaurants on their craft cocktails, I kind of love how there’s no cocktail list here—it’s as if you’re to order a Glenmorangie neat or a martini shaken, not stirred, just like a suave someone would in a movie.