Keep your eye on Englewood. The sleepy beachside borough is alive with surprises these days, and the town seems ravenous for all of them.
With modestly little fanfare, chef/owner Joe Amedio (from New Jersey, but a 20-year Venice/Englewood native) and manager Erika Mitchell (from New York) quietly reopened the doors at the former Ole Time Café’s prime location on West Dearborn Street. They’ve spruced up the oak-shaded, 60-seat front deck with twinkle lights and blue sun sails, and created an all-new, 40-seat Blue Pineapple Bistro inside, serving breakfast and lunch, plus dinner Thursday to Saturday.
Things haven’t stayed quiet there for long. This couple is whipping up a flood of business with their 50 combined years’ varied restaurant experience.
“That’s why the menu’s so scattered,” laughed Amedio. “It’s a whole lot of different stuff that we’ve picked up over the years.”
Eclectic is the word.
In the third of the menu that’s currently available, Buffalo chicken fried ravioli, pork belly bites and chicken pot pie soup rub elbows with house-made guacamole and crab-shrimp ceviche, both served with wickedly addictive fried pita chips. There are wings, fried scallop and shrimp baskets, sandwiches and salads, as well as plant-based Beyond Burgers. For breakfast you get the usual egg platters and biscuits with sausage gravy, but also a hefty Brunch Burger; plain, Asiago and French toast bagels; and three kinds of hearty avocado toasts.
And in case you’re wondering, it’s pure coincidence that the bistro’s name echoes Blue Pineapple antiques, once across the street. Unaware of the now-shuttered shop, the owners only wanted to complement Dearborn Street’s future blue-and-sand sidewalk swirls.
Blue Pineapple Bistro ($-$$; CASH ONLY for now), 941-460-6537, 470 W. Dearborn Street (under the spreading oak), is open Tuesday and Wednesday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 8:30 p.m., Sunday to 2 p.m. Beer, wine and sangria. Live weekend music starts this month, with Zach Regan. And watch for the menu to grow in coming weeks.
The folks at the former Norma Jean’s in Lemon Bay plaza apparently enjoy keeping us on our toes. Not only do they have a new owner (Scott “Libby” Libertore), new chef/co-owner (Caroline Wright) and veteran manager (Danielle Reich). They renamed the place Libby’s.
Wait. Wrong. Now it’s Libby’s Sports Bar & Grill.
Oops, nope. Wait for it. Now it’s ... Libee’s Sports Bar & Grill!
Not trademark infringement, but customer confusion over the grill’s independence from the Sarasota Libby’s Brasserie, where Wright once cheffed, prompted a unique new name that will probably stick.
Good thing the sign wasn’t up yet.
Libee’s ($-$$), 941-460-8860, 1859 Englewood Road (Lemon Bay Shopping Center), is open Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday noon to 9 p.m., with all-day every-day happy hour.
Owner John McCallister swore up and down that his new Johnny’s Bar & Grill would open in September.
A man of his word, McCallister threw a soft-opening party swarming with locals on Sept. 20. Placida Road’s former Annie B’s Beef N Booze and Villa Capri opened to the public the next day, with fresh cream-colored walls and a menu that features the best from Chef Glen Wilson (also of Englewood’s Mini City food trailer): sliders, chicken livers and gizzards, smoked chicken, smoked ribs, pulled pork, brisket and a Sunday Soul Food Buffet. Along with other American bar-food classics.
Johnny’s Bar & Grill ($-$$), 8501 Placida Road, Englewood, is open daily 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
PUNTA GORDA ROCKS WEEKEND
We know that season will be fast upon us when Sandra’s Restaurant, at 111 W. Olympia Ave., lets loose with bier, schnapps and bratwursts at its annual Oktoberfest. This year, the event slap-dances through the whole weekend — Friday, Oct. 4 through Sunday, Oct. 6 — with live music, outside seating and an outside stage.
Cape Coral German band Hafenkapelle oompahs on Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. Friday night at 7 p.m. there’s country with Judy Love & Friends, and Saturday night at 8, popular local band Bandana rocks the house. Accordion Chris plays indoors most of the time, too.
Don’t be surprised if you run into the Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Four on the streets of Punta Gorda Saturday, Oct. 5. This year’s team theme in the Fred Lang Front Nine is “Be a Hero.” Nine holes of putt-putt are going on at nine locations around town: Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Burg’r Bar, Celtic Ray Public House, Dean’s South of the Border, Downtown Gatorz, Hurricane Charley’s, IceHouse, Orange House Wine Bar and TT’s Tiki Bar. Proceeds from those 81 holes benefit Charlotte Behavioral Health Care through the Fred Lang Foundation. Send restaurant and bar news and recommendations to columnist Sue Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org. Average price ranges are $ = inexpensive (under $10), $$ = moderate ($11-$30), and $$$ = pricey (over $30), including tip and beverage.