There are a select few restaurants with delicious food and welcoming warmth where I am always happy to send or bring friends. These delights become their new “favorite spot”, and they in turn will bring their friends. Like a ripple upon a pond's suface, "the word" spreads. Such “finds” are consistently very good to excellent in food, service and ambiance. Café Alfredo has earned its place on my select list of “casual and delicious”restaurants. With its indoor-outdoor bar, great bartender, date night and family-friendly attractive setting and fresh, fresh food, it's a slam-dunk to recommend.
|Dino Preparing and Serving Dover Sole|
I like to order a drink from the full bar and sit on the shaded patio in the evening in comfy chairs with friends. This outdoor setting is perfect to come "as you are" casual. When it gets warm out, you may want to enter the air conditioned dining room. Take in the copper clad tall wood-burning oven, the copper bar top, stone work and tall ceilings.
We enjoyed chatting with the lovely bartender before we went to our table, and tried several wines through the night. Start with a nice Chianti, Chianti Classico Riserva, Barolo, Zin, Merlot or Malbec-it's a good selection of wines. The pricing is very wallet friendly-there's delicious ones to be savored for under $30 as well as ones in the $70's. I favor the $11 super Tuscan, and a $7.50 Chianti Ruffino (somehow I forgot the names!) We were happy with wine quality and the good sized pours for generally $7-10.
|Cousins Gino and Alfredo al Fresco!|
If you're in a light dining mood, choose from cold or hot antipasti, a personal pizza, or a variety of homemade pastas. Entrees of chicken, veal, and seafood are generous. Most are priced under $17. This is wallet friendly for "date night" or families alike in the lovely setting.
We started with the freshly tossed thin crust, $12 Neapolitan pizza-add a variety of toppings at $1 each. We watched the ball of dough repeatedly tossed high again and again, transformed into a thin oven-ready disc.
Salmon carpaccio ($10) is a lovely presentation, topped with cilantro, capers and a deconstructed bruschetta of bold tomatoes, lemon juice and olive oil.
Pappardelle e fungi, or Porcini and Portobello mushrooms sauted in a rich brown sauce ($14), was my favorite of the evening, full of the mushrooms rich earthy flavor.
Clams casino ($9) are elevated to a crisp savory ambrosia; a molluscan and porcine surf and turf -Chef Alfredo style. Eight fresh meaty clams on the half shell are topped with crisp flavorful pancetta, herbs and panko, baked and served over a subtle white wine sauce. We went wild for these tender bite-sized treats! Highly recommended.
Some entrees can be ordered as half portions; perfect for trying a good variety of selections. We ordered and were and were very happy with the ravioli that way. Each pasta pillow is amply stuffed with a four cheese mixture, bathed in a light pink sauce then sprinkled with tender peas.
Dover sole is rarely found under $35-40 these days, and the "alla Mugnaia" preparation ($33) is worth every penny.
Dessert was a wonderful thick creamy orange panna cotta ($7), with a goodly sweet and slightly tart Florida citrusy nip, that's fine for two or three to share.
at the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt, 2359 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 416, Naples,431-8605, www.CafeAlfredoNaples.com
|Chef Alberto and Chef Matteo by the Brick Oven|