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Arts and Entertainment Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022 1 month ago

New restaurants on Longboat Key focus on fresh ingredients

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Hugo II has been serving guests since April. LaVilla Mexican Restaurant will open its doors on Saturday.
by: Lauren Tronstad Staff Writer

Two restaurants have popped up on Longboat Key in recent months. Hugo II, which is located in Cedars East Tennis Court, has been open since April. LaVilla Mexican Restaurant is in its final days before opening Saturday, Aug. 27. Both restaurants tout the use of fresh ingredients prepared in-house. 

 

LaVilla Mexican Restaurant 

LaVilla Mexican restaurant, which will officially open its doors Saturday, is the first Mexican restaurant on the Key. 

Located at 5610 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Suite 5, it features authentic regional Mexican cuisine. All dining seating is indoors. 

“Everyone has been pretty excited,” owner Estella Villegas said of the resident reaction to the new restaurant. “I have had people calling me to tell me they want us to open already.”

She predicts their smothered burritos will be among their most popular menu items due to its creamy jalapeño sauce. 

“It really is so delicious,” she said. 

Menu items are always prepared fresh and the location rarely uses anything canned or processed, Villegas said. 

The family-owned business has another location in Valrico that has been open for about eight years. Villegas said it is likely that the location will close after the Key’s restaurant gets up and running. 

Villegas has also worked at the now defunct Estella’s Mexican Restaurant in Tampa. The location was open for 10 years. Before returning to restaurant work, she drove an 18-wheeler.

While she is excited for the opening, she said she asks that guests are patient with them as they get their feet underneath them and continue looking for employees. 

 

Hugo II

Hugo II is a new European restaurant on the Key, which opened April 8. The restaurant is located at Cedars East Tennis Court; 645 Cedars Court. 

Menu offerings, which change every 10 days, include a mixture of American and European favorites for lunch and dinner and breakfast on Sundays, owner Denisa Guttman said. 

Guttman runs the restaurant with the help of her mother and father Kika and Thilo Pietsch. The trio maintain a focus on the family-like atmosphere of the restaurant. 

“The people feel very welcomed and very warm because here we are like a family,” Guttman said. “We have always been very family oriented.”

Hugo II is closed for lunch the month of August and closed for vacation through September. 

Once they return in October, Guttman said they plan to return to regular hours of operation. Regular hours are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday. 

During the location’s modified hours, breakfast is served on Sunday and weekday hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. Guests are given the option of indoor or outdoor seating. 

All of the food is locally sourced and made fresh on site by Guttman’s mother. Fine wines, spirits and signature cocktails are also available. 

Restaurant staff encourage a drink from the tiki bar overlooking the junior Olympic-sized pool of the resort before dinner. 

Hugo II’s most popular dishes include schnitzel, soups and burgers, Guttman said. 

In addition to menu prices, dining memberships are also available through the resort for $10 annually. 

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Lauren Tronstad is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2021. Before moving to Florida, she worked for the Columbia Daily Tribune.

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