Take the long way to Grove City, down Gasparilla and Placida roads. You’ll find delightfully delicious new things along the way.

QUE RICO, TAKE 2

Six years ago, mother-son team Ruby and Ivan Tenorio opened the restaurant originally called K-Rico. Almost at once, it began winning kudos for owner friendliness and fresh, authentic Colombian flavors.

Que Rico Colombian Flavors became and to this day remains TripAdvisor’s number one North Port restaurant.

Given its name, how could it be otherwise?

In Spanish, “Que rico!” means, more or less, “How delightfully delicious!”

On Jan. 5, 2021, the Colombian cook who’d longed for her own special kitchen proudly opened Que Rico Express in 41 Chailett Road’s Plaza on the Cape.

Ruby’s next move was to acquire the adjacent space and expand what had been a breakfast/lunch express stop into a full-size second Que Rico Colombian Flavors for lunch and dinner.

Now easily twice as big as its North Port mama store, the interior is a joyful stroll down the brightly painted streets of Cartagena, Colombia. There, flowers cascade from balconies of contrasting colors. Here, parrots and monkeys peer from the greenery decking Ruby’s walls. Latin music flows from her speakers.

Everything here means something — signs celebrating Ruby’s hometown of Cali, her own drum kit and a corner dedicated to construction helper Juancho. Even the restrooms are works of art.

The menu, much the same as North Port’s, has additional appetizers and seafood dishes like shrimp ceviche and Cazuela de Mariscos, a creamy seafood stew.

To please American tastes, but including the uniquely Colombian touch of crushed chips, there are the towering Angus beef Colombian hamburger with melted mozz and the mouthwatering Super Arepa — corn cake topped with cheese, beans, those chips and a sunburst of orange and green sauces, with your choice of steak, chicken or pulled brisket.

Main dishes like roast pork, chicken stew, grilled or breaded chicken and pork loin come with rice, beans, salad and plantains.

“This is a really special place for me,” said Ruby. “I’m not planning to use all 150 seats. I don’t like to be squeezed in a restaurant. I want everyone to be relaxed, reading every detail on the walls and enjoying the meal, drinks and music. No phones allowed; I want customers to connect and have a nice time.”

Que Rico Colombian Flavors ($-$$, O), 941-214-8101, 41 Chailett Road (Plaza on the Cape, off Gasparilla Road), Rotonda West, is open noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a full-liquor bar and authentic Colombian sodas, juices and coffees. Happy hour 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday.

SHELLFISH RETURN TO GROVE CITY


Right before the start of Boca Grande Causeway beats the small heart of Placida. That’s where Gasparilla Road turns into Placida Road and bears northwest through Cape Haze before entering little Grove City.

Grove City has been known for hometown joints ever since 1972, when Angelo’s Pizza was the only restaurant on Placida Road and the only Italian eatery in town. Englewood had yet to get its first traffic light, but everyone knew Angelo’s.

Angelo’s might be gone, but another Grove City hangout has made a comeback of sorts.

Barnacle Bill’s was the kind of restaurant with two-hour waits every Friday during season, the kind of place where people came back year after year.

Located for 15 years on SandBar Tiki & Grille’s footprint at Englewood Beach, Barnacle Bill’s moved first to S.R. 776 in the early 1990s, then again to 2901 Placida Road in 2004, where it settled for seven more years before shutting down.

After 11 years, people wondered what would become of the abandoned Barnacle Bill’s. This February they found out.

Owner/manager Virginia Fey and her husband, Richard, transformed it into Steamers, a fresh-daily seafood restaurant serving (of course) steamed clams, shrimp, soft-shell crabs, crawfish, mussels, snow crab legs, fried baskets, hand-cut French fries, nachos, shrimp and grouper tacos, clam chowder, coconut shrimp and the famously shareable, eponymous Captain Rich Bucket of steamed seafood—much of it from Port Charlotte’s premier wholesaler, E&L Clam House.

The new owners also acquired the corner lot for future expansion.

“We needed a place like this here,” said Richard. “One customer even told me to raise my prices so we’d stay in business! How often do you hear that?”

Steamers Oyster Bar ($$, O), 941-214-5890, 2901 Placida Road (next to San Casa), Englewood, is open 3 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday to Sunday.

RICALTINI’S CHANGES HANDS

Just across Placida Road is Ricaltini’s Bar & Grille, a Grove City fixture for 14 years, recently enhanced with a new patio and nightly live entertainment.

On Mar. 25, co-owner/manager Lauri Ray announced: “It is with such extreme emotions that it is time to announce that Ricaltini’s is, as of today, under new ownership!

“Mike and I will never be able to express how grateful we are to all that have supported us these past 14 years and hope you will continue to support the new owner, Ryan Wall. Thank you Englewood for helping my dreams come true!”

Ricaltini’s ($$, O), 941-828-1591, 1997 Kentucky Avenue (just off Placida Road), Englewood, is open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday to Thursday, to 9:30 Friday and Saturday.

Send restaurant and bar news and recommendations to columnist Sue Wade at suewade47@aol.com.

Average price ranges are $ = inexpensive (under $10), $$ = moderate ($11-$30), and $$$ = pricey (over $30), including tip and beverage. Outside dining available = O.

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