The genesis of the Edibles’ monthly “Favorite Restaurants” feature was that it seems to be such an incredibly and indelibly popular topic in these parts. Yet, it can still be a surprising conversation. For example, Owen’s Fish Camp was an unexpected choice in last month’s round-up of romantic restaurants, but it’s not here today. Some old-time fish houses and places where you can’t find a parking spot are also missing in action. The question put to an all-male panel was, “Where do you want to go when you want a good piece of fresh fish?”
No matter where I am in Sarasota, Cosimo’s Brick Oven is always within a 10-minute drive. Grilled salmon is one of their house specialties, which is made with fresh, wild Atlantic salmon, and served over crispy polenta and roasted vegetables and topped with fresh tomatoes and artichokes. I’m not a big fan of dishes with a strong “fishy” taste, but the flavor profile of the fresh salmon and vegetables in this dish is absolutely divine.
When I’m in the mood for fish, I head to my neighborhood favorite, Kazu’s, for some yellowtail sashimi. The light, buttery flavor is exactly what fresh fish should taste like. I also go for one of the house specials, the Genji roll, which is Kazu’s creation of white tuna, spicy mayo and jalapenos — delicious!
Sam Snead’s Tavern has been my “local” since it opened. When it comes to eating fish, I adore the grouper Oscar, which is a big, 8-ounce filet of black grouper with crabmeat, asparagus and their own hollandaise sauce. I love the friendliness of management and staff, and not least, the fact that I’ve never eaten a bad meal there.
The best fish dish in town is Café Baci’s flounder. The red snapper is a close second. Roberto Mei is brilliant in his use of fresh ingredients. My wife, Deb, loves their fresh seafood over linguini, and their Christmas feast of the seven fishes is a magnificent tradition and a delight for anyone who likes fresh fish.
Mar Vista and Moore’s have always have been two of my favorites. I like the stone crabs and fresh oysters on the half shell, and the lightly breaded fried shrimp at Moore’s and pretty much the same foods at Mar Vista. I like the Old-Florida atmosphere at both places, especially the outside seating at Mar Vista. Downtown, I prefer Barnacle Bill’s.
My favorite restaurant for fish is, without question, Crab & Fin, on St. Armands Circle. They have a wide and varied selection of fresh fish every day, and the preparation and presentation are innovative and inspired. Grouper, halibut, Scottish salmon, mahi-mahi, rainbow trout — the choices are endless. The service is always friendly, personable and impeccable. No better place in town for fish.
IF YOU GO
Barnacle Bill’s Seafood
1526 Main St. and 5050 N. Tamiami Trail
365-6800 and 355-7700
4001 S. Tamiami Trail
Cosimo’s Brick Oven
3501 S. Tamiami Trail
Crab & Fin Restaurant
420 St. Armands Circle
2063 Siesta Drive
Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub
760 Broadway, Longboat Key
Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant and Marina
800 Broadway, Longboat Key
Sam Snead’s Tavern
1860 S. Osprey Ave., Suite 100