Thursday, December 27, 2007
Gaja Ristorante -Truly Authentic Italian Restaurant in Naples Florida
***NOTE: AWARD WINNING EXECUTIVE CHEF GINO SCIALLIS HAS BEEN HIRED AWAY TO OPEN BIANCHI'S AT BAYFRONT, 1/09, AND BIANCHI'S IS ALREADY PACKED! GINO'S LOYAL CUSTOMERS HAVE FOLLOWED HIM. GET THE SAME AUTHENTIC ITALIAN FOOD, THE PRICE IS LESS, AND HAVE A WALK ALONG THE WATER FRONT. TELEPHONE- 331-8233
SADLY, IT IS A MAJOR LOSS FOR STRUGGLING RISTORANTE GAJA. BIANCHI'S IS OWNED BY CHRISSY BIANCHI-RABIL AND FADI RABIL, WHO ALSO OWN THREE CHRISSY'S RESTAURANTS.
THE BELOW IS LEFT FOR HISTORICAL INTEREST, AS CHEF GINO, AND HIS STYLE, ARE NO LONGER AT GAJA.
Chef Gino Sciallis opened Gaja in October, 2007, where Il Posto was located in the 3rd Streen Plaza, just west of bustling 3rd Street.
He cooks authentic Italian, hailing from Italy's Piedmont region, then moved to Sanremo, in Liguria, on the Mediterranean Sea. (No wonder he'd feel at home next in Naples, Fla, with it's , um, abundance of Italianate-morphed-Tropical Style architecture.) All of the staff, his grown children from Italy, take care of the "front of the house" with their attentive service, warm smiles and wonderful accents.
He cooks with a "light touch", a high compliment, meaning that food is cooked just right, and not 30 seconds too long. The spicing is just enough to accent the food, be it Calamari Alla Griglia, or Grilled Calamari, served over mixed Greens with Capers, Lemon and Virgin olive oil ($12.95), a Fettuccine Dell "Orto, or the Shrimp, Zucchini, Eggplant, and fresh Tomato and Basil ($21.95). I went for the bouillabaisse style Zuppa di Pesci, with tender clams, fresh mussels, sweet shrimp, calamari and fish in a savory seafood tomato broth with crostini ($28.95). Each morsel of seafood was so tender, and complemented by the rich, yet delicately seasoned tomato broth. A peek in the kitchen revealed no cans of food, just fresh produce and lush herbs from his own garden, and, yes, it tastes just as refreshingly typical as the food I had in Italy. I usually take home a portion of my food-here I was all too eager to savor (and devour) all these fruits of the sea while hot, and with extra crostini! It's a pleasure to dine with a glass of wine, linen tablecloths, and abundant fresh food, quietly close by Naples 3rd Street shopping.
I will try the Saltimbocca Alla Romana next time- a Veal Scaloppine sauteed with prosciutto, sage, and white wine, served over spinach ($24.95). For dessert, I quickly "disappeared" the naturally sweet, yet slightly tart Orange Sorbet, served in a frozen orange, with a sprig of basil and a dusting of confectioner's sugar. Mmmmm!
I've had several people from this blog enjoy Gino's, and call me to say so. Gino will soon have a line forming as word gets around that Naples finally has a Great Italian Restaurant that stands above the other 40 or so "ok" Italian restaurants that have been resting on their basil leaves. If you are salt-conscious, this cuisine may salt a little generously, true Italian style, which is a little bit more salty than Naples restaurants may serve. Let your server know if your diet merits a lighter hand on salting. Gino, you've received enthusiastic votes for "The Best Italian Restaurant in Town", after only a few months cooking at this site. Mangia!
The Dining Room - Opening Time
Grilled Calamari over Mixed Greens and Capers
Zuppa di Pesce in Tomato Broth
A Flight of Wines
Chef Gino with Veal Scaloppine
Chef Gino and Family, Direct from Italy
Orange Sorbet in Frozen Orange
There's live entertaiment outdoors, Thursday to Saturday. Chef Gino also sings Rolling Stones songs while in the kitchen- your call- eat al fresco, or be serenaded by the kitchen. Such a choice!
Gaja Ristorante 3rd Street South Plaza, 1170 3rd Street South, Naples, Fl 239-261-9677