[Naples, Florida] The Local

Our hotel provided us with a copy of the local daily newspaper. Without spotting a mention of The Local in there, we’d never have come across it. It’s a fairly recent opening in a nondescript strip mall in North Naples. There’s a commitment to the farm-to-table approach and very much a commitment to using local produce wherever possible. Even the list of craft beers are almost exclusively Floridian.

There’s a shortish menu, supplemented by a few specials which change daily depending on product availability.

There was a thick lentil soup to start. Just the sort of thing we’d enjoy on a winter’s night in Northern Europe. And it was still pretty damn good in the warmth of a Florida autumn evening. By contrast, the other starter was a fresh and light watermelon, spinach and feta salad. Lovely citrus dressing.

For mains, there was porchetta. A pretty much perfect porchetta. Crisp skin, a thick layer of sweet fat, delicious meat flavoured with pine nuts, rosemary and sage. It was some of the tastiest bits of piggy I’ve enjoyed for a while. There were a few Parmesan coated scalloped potatoes. And an interesting saute of corn, onion, pepper and cauliflower. A really well crafted plate of food.

A cross the table, there was deeply flavoured beef pot roast, the meat cooked for so long it was, literally, falling apart. It was well seasoned with a lot of pepper, giving it something of a kick. A few veg and spuds helped it all along.

Desserts were something of a game of two halves. We both ordered ice cream, all made in house. Rocky road was excellent – a good chocolate, not cloying as it can sometimes be, studded with chocolate chips, marshmallow and other bits and bobs you’d expect. On the other hand, the “café au lait” flavour didn’t really work. Yes, there was a little background note of coffee but it was really all pretty mono-dimensional, tasting of a generic “sweet”. But, that aside, this had been a really enjoyable meal. It you lived locally, you’d be a regular. And, if you’re just visiting, make the time to eat there – places like this need and deserve as much support as possible.

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Nice write up (unfortunately I am far from Naples, FL). But it is amazing how it’s possible to just stumble into a great meal at a non-descript spot on a well-researched vacation. Quite often our best vacation meals are like this–based on a local ad that appears.