What’s new chef like John Barrett at Placida’s Lighthouse Grill shakes up the menu to keep things fresh. Others refresh their menu every three months.

A whole meal — breakfast — becomes such hot new comfort food that people can’t get enough of it. Eateries from Port Charlotte’s All-Star Sports Grill to Punta Gorda’s Burg’r Bar oblige them by adding breakfast where there was none before.

Doug Amaral wants your memories

No, it’s not some sci-fi thriller.

River City Grill chef/owner Doug Amaral wants you to share your fondest childhood food memories with him.

That favorite dish of your mom’s that you continue to crave. That recipe from your cultural heritage, from the region where you grew up.

Befriend “Douglas Amaral” on Facebook, tell him the story of your favorite family food, add photos, attach a recipe if you have it.

He‘s going to invite a couple of you to test, taste and whip up your favorite dish with him at River City Grill. It’ll be like an Emeril episode.

Hey, if former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon can have a dish like Maddonini Chicken named after him, so can you.

He constantly goes back to his roots for inspiration.

Now he wants to go back to yours, too.

River City Grill ($$-$$$), 941-639-9080, 131 W. Marion Ave., is open Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 4:30 to 9 p.m.

Not in this family’s cookbook

The owners’ ancestors might not have had it, but you can nevertheless eat a St. Patrick’s Day meal of corned beef and cabbage at Punta Gorda’s Celtic Ray Public House, one of Florida’s few authentic Irish pubs.

Owners Kevin and Max Doyle have in this case bowed to public demand. As they’ll admit, the dish isn’t Irish. Jewish delis introduced it on the streets of New York, where it was adopted by everyone else.

But don’t even think about asking them to pour the abomination that is green beer.

The Celtic Ray ($-$$), 941-916-9115, 145 E. Marion Ave., is throwing a three-day SPD bash that closes out in style with Celt-rock band Shenanigan’s Wake tonight.

Profits, sunnyside upPunta Gorda restaurateurs Nick and Sue Randall know they have to fill every seat in the Village Fish Market during season, to make it through summer.

The same held true for their two-year-old La Fiorentina Steakhouse Italiana, which didn’t have quite enough seats to do that job. And when plans to expand their square footage proved untenable, they had to think fast on their seats.

There’s more ways than one to fill a chair. If you can’t add more of them, you make them available for more hours a day, starting at 8 for breakfast instead of 11:30 for lunch.


Not only did the Randalls’ longtime chef, Chris DiNunno, rise to the challenge of creating a breakfast menu, which he’d never done before; he and his team made it the classiest breakfast menu Punta Gorda has ever seen.

Hungry local diners now get buttery puff pastry holding their bacon and eggs, French toast en brioche, even a filet mignon Benedict, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

La Fiorentina ($$-$$$), 941-639-6500, 10361 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda, is open Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday to 8 p.m. Breakfast is served until 2 p.m., lunch 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Orange juice at The Orange House

Not to be outdone, Lisa Blanchard and daughter-in-law Bianca Blanchard have gone beyond wine and tapas to offer breakfast and lunch at Punta Gorda’s Orange House Wine Bar.

Breakfast includes quiche, healthy açai bowls and the somewhat less virtuous “do-scuits,” Blanchard’s killer combo of fried biscuit dough rolled in sugar, with lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote or peanut butter, Nutella and crushed pretzels.

Lunch now includes salad, flatbreads and panini.

The Orange House ($), 941-505-8233, 320 Sullivan Street, is open Tuesday and Wednesday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday to 10 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m.

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.


Load comments