The Gulf Gate area is a unique business district. Located just south of Stickney Point Road, Gulf Gate is home to a multitude of small shops, bakeries, caterers, restaurants, bars, and late night spots.
This concentration of eating and drinking establishments poses a singular challenge for restaurateurs: How can they make their restaurant stand out from all the other dining options?
In the case of Adriatico, the answer is the food.
Located in the heart of Gulf Gate, Adriatico’s presence is simple and unassuming. The outside is marked by a large blue and white sign, and the restaurant’s interior is small, casually decorated and unassuming. There's a chalkboard listing the daily specials, including the fresh seafood, and a wall shelved with wine — the stage is set for an anticipated dining experience.
The menu at Adriatico is small, offering appetizers, salads, pasta, chicken, pork and beef. However, the primary focus is on fresh, well-prepared seafood.
For our meals we chose the following:
- Scallop Tartare: Tomato, avocado and citronette (special) $17.95 This was a very special dish — fresh and full of flavor with chunks of avocado and tomato. Tastes just like the sea. If you like scallops, this is for you.
- Insalata della Casa: Mixed greens, tomatoes, red onion, carrot and balsamic vinaigrette. $7.95 Very fresh. A generously sized portion and great beginning to a wonderful meal.
- Octopus Salad: Potato, celery, carrots, octopus, lemon and olive oil. $15.95 Served cold. A colorful presentation of finely chopped veggies with chunks of tender octopus; a great combination of colors and textures. Fresh, flavorful and easily shared by two.
- Impepata di Cozze: PEI mussels sautéed in garlic, extra virgin olive oil and white wine or steamed. $12.95 We chose to have the mussels steamed. So delicious. Very fresh and a generous serving.
- Orecchiette Fagioli e Cozze: Fresh orecchiette with cannellini beans, mussels and garlic. $17.95 This was such a delightful dish. Silky, creamy, great combinations and wonderful textures.
- Risotto Special: Served with saffron, scallops and a little celery. Topped with parsley. $27.95 A creamy, rich presentation. Caramelized seared scallops with a sweet, true sea flavor. Very filling. Another scallop-lover’s dish to consider.
- Pollo Trevigiano: Chicken-wrapped speck and radicchio with farro and asparagus. $19.95 An amply sized portion that was filled with flavor. I’m a big fan of farro, so this was a nice surprise as a side.
- Halibut Special: First poached, then grilled. Served with farro and asparagus. $34.95 Perhaps one of the best prepared fish I've ever tasted. Fresh amd moist with great color.
- Swordfish Special: Sautéed in olive oil, parsley and lemon with farro, with asparagus. $25.95 A thick cut of very fresh swordfish. Moist and tender with great flavor.
- Panna Cotta: Infused with mint. $6.95 A very light custard with subtle mint flavor. Delicious.
- Tiramisu: $6.95 One of the best — light, creamy and wonderful.
There is a bit of a language barrier and some cultural differences. At times, the wait staff's enthusiasm might come across as abrupt. However, we found the service to be very professional. Our experience is that the staff's intentions are focused clearly on the food.
There are many Italian restaurants in Sarasota. However, there are only a few that stand out on their own. If you're looking for an Italian seafood experience, I think I'll be adding Adriatico to my list of stand-outs.
6600 Superior Ave.
Hours: 5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
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