Date: October 31, 2012
by: June LeBell | Contributing Columnist | june@junelebell.com



+ Selva service sets the bar
Sarasota has many excellent restaurants for the variety of tastes among its citizens, but, in my book, Selva Grill wins the award for its combination of great cuisine and exceptional service. Having been out of town for part of the summer, we’d been away from Selva since last spring, but, when we made our reservation for dinner we not only got the table we requested (a banquette along the mural wall), we also wound up with Ivan, a young waiter we’d met only once before. Ivan is an exceptional young man.

He remembered what we drank more than three months ago — Stoli blueberry vodka on the rocks for me and “an exceptionally-arid” Tanqueray gin martini, with a twist of lemon, straight up, with the ice on the side for my husband — and then proceeded to boggle us with his memory of some of our favorite dishes.
How you’re treated in a restaurant is as important as the food and setting. And Selva seems to go out of its way to keep its staff happy and well-trained, so they do their very best for us.

Ivan’s been at Selva for several years. He started there “polishing glasses” when he was still too young to serve the wine. Now, some years later, he’s a gracious part of Selva’s fine wait-staff, cheerful, available to serve but never hovering or in the way. It’s the Ivans of the world who keep us coming back to the great restaurants.

+ Fleming’s wines and dines
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, on Siesta Drive, is offering special wine tastings from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Saturdays. Wine Manager James Shea invites guests to explore wines specially selected from Fleming’s “100 List,” paired with Fleming’s light fare. The cost is $25 per person, but, if you stay for dinner, you’ll receive a $25 dining credit.

+ Mozaic’s full dining experience
Meanwhile, MoZaic — the spectacular downtown restaurant shepherded by chef Dylan Elhajoui — is offering a place for you or your visitors to sleep! You read right. In addition to the incredible Southern French-Moroccan-Mediterranean-inspired cuisine in this romantic two-story restaurant, you may make a reservation for visiting family or friends to rent an adorable one-bedroom, one-bath, 700-plus-square-foot pied-a-terre that sleeps four right in the heart of downtown.

Visitors who don’t feel like using the newly-equipped kitchen can call downstairs and order a sumptuous dinner from MoZaic, delivered and served in the privacy of their own apartment. This pad is beautifully decorated and features all the up-to-the minute electronic necessities including FIOS. And, you’re right around the corner from the Opera House and just a block from Florida Studio Theatre.

Chef Dylan, by the way, is available to cook, host and serve specially-planned menus in your home or in one of the private rooms in the restaurant. We attended a fundraiser for the Sarasota Opera in a private home last year that was not only cooked by chef Dylan but also served, indoors and out, on original Moroccan tablecloths set up over authentic (and beautiful) Middle Eastern carpets. Chef Dylan brought his own crew, a belly-dancer and more than a dozen caftans, so the diners would feel as if they were nestled in an opulent gazebo in the desert .


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