CAPTAIN CRAB’S ON A ROLL

Port Charlotte’s two-month-old Captain Crab Seafood Sushi & Bar started shaking up local custom as soon as it opened its doors, serving the shaken-in-a-bag seasoned seafood boils that had already caught on nationwide. It was the first restaurant between Bradenton and Cape Coral to offer what eloquent diners have described as yummy balloonfuls of seafood. And Captain Crab continues to push the envelope — this time with sushi.

It recently rolled out what amounts to all-you-can-eat, not-a-buffet, endless sushi like that offered by GinZa sushi and hibachi in Fort Myers.

Looking out for its clients’ bellies and budgets, Captain Crab laid some ground rules. Your first all-you-can-eat order is limited to two 6- to 10-piece rolls, so you can start out slow. After that, it’s no-holds-barred, but you will be charged for gross excesses: $5 for every six rolls left per plate.

“We have a wastage charge because we don’t want people to over-order,” co-owner Lin Zheng explained.

But when ordering endless, it pays to go big and pick from the fancy end of the lunch menu or from the showy special rolls for dinner. Two Crazy Rolls, for instance, run $19.90 on the regular lunch menu, but only $14.95 as an endless lunch. Two Godzilla special rolls run $29.90 on the regular menu and $24.95 endlessly.

Bet you can eat only two anyway.

The big question, of course, is how sushi chef Jake Zheng plans to keep up with Port Charlotte sushi fans.

You should take advantage while you can, because Captain Crab’s endless sushi might not really be endless. It lasts through the month of November, then continues only if everybody likes it.

Captain Crab ($-$$), 941-625-6888, 2746 Tamiami Trail (formerly Whiskey Creek), is open Sunday to Thursday noon to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 11 p.m. Endless sushi is $14.95 from noon to 3 p.m., $24.95 from 3 p.m. to close. Kids 11 and under can eat endlessly for $8.95 and $12.95.

OPENTABLE ELEVATES THE UNDER-RECOGNIZED

Everybody seems to know, love and widely review Punta Gorda’s acclaimed Italian eatery, Carmelo’s Italian Ristorante, now housed in a sprawling new location on W. Retta Esplanade. In fact, Carmelo’s landed on OpenTable’s 2019 list of 100 Best Al Fresco Restaurants in America, based on diner reviews collected between April 2018 and March 2019.

The world’s leading provider of online restaurant reservations analyzes more than 400,000 new diner reviews each month, sorting the results by region and category to help people find new favorites.

In the monthly rankings for October, Carmelo’s continued to be recognized, for Best Food, Best Value, Italian and Most Booked.

But you might be surprised by some of the other local bests on OpenTable’s Southwest Florida lists for October. Under-recognized, under-reviewed but, when reviewed, not usually underrated, these local hits range from hidden gems to Smugglers Enterprises icons.

All of the recognized restaurants had a few things in common, besides excellent reviews: Reservations are a must, OpenTable handles them, and the platform reminds diners to leave a review.

If you don’t see your own highly rated and reviewed personal favorite here, don’t be upset. It might not be on OpenTable’s radar.

The Captain’s Table ($$-$$$), 941-637-1177, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade (Fishermen’s Village), Punta Gorda. Great for Brunch, Scenic View.

Carmelo’s Italian Ristorante ($$-$$$), 941-621-4091, 321 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda. Best Food, Best Value, Italian, Most Booked.

JD’s Bistro & Grille ($$-$$$), 941-255-0994, 1951 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte. Hot Spot, Vibrant Bar Scene.

Laishley Crab House ($$-$$$), 941-205-5566, 150 Laishley Court, Punta Gorda. Outdoor Dining, Scenic View.

Rossini Trattoria Gastronomica ($$-$$$), 941-766-6111, 18101 Murdock Circle, Port Charlotte. Best Restaurants Fit for Foodies, Hot Spot, Romantic.

WE’RE NOT IN CALLALOO ANYMORE

As of last Thursday, Punta Gorda’s Callaloo Caribbean Restaurant & Bar was officially no more.

Ophelia and Bob Rosen‘s renamed Alligator Creek Bar & Grill has reopened with a new look and a Creole-influenced new menu that lets the casual good times roll. It’s got everything from gumbo, seasoned lobster roll, flatbreads and a tangy mystery sauce called “Bob-bob” (hint: it’s Mr. Rosen’s favorite) to, of course, gator bites and other fried delights.

Alligator Creek Bar & Grill ($-$$), 941-639-2633, 5500 Deltona Drive, Punta Gorda, is open Wednesday to Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., with live entertainment Friday and Saturday, happy hour daily until 3:30, and special $5 hot-dog-and-a-draft Wednesdays, $14 AUCE peel-and-eat shrimp Thursdays, and $5 taco Fridays.

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.

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