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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 8 months ago

Zota's food and beverage team cooks up own flavor

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The trio aims to make Viento Kitchen & Bar a culinary retreat.
by: Katie Johns Community Editor

When you mix the concept of steakhouse and a seafood restaurant with hints of Italian and Mediterranean tastes, you get Longboat Key’s new restaurant on the block.

Situated on the second floor of Zota Beach Resort overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, Viento Kitchen & Bar wants to be a go-to spot for Longboat Key residents and visitors alike.

And to do so, the resort recently announced its food and beverage leadership team.

David Miller, the food and beverage director, comes to Zota from other Ocean Properties hotels, resorts and affiliates, including Treasure Island Beach Resort and Sanibel Island Beach Resort. He also managed the restaurant and catering planning for the Peabody Hotel Group in Memphis, Tenn.

Jason Pellet, executive chef, joins Zota after serving as executive chef at Brio Tuscan Grille in Sarasota. He studied culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America. Jeremy White, sous chef, graduated from L’Ecole Culinare in St. Louis and previously served as executive sous chef at Racquet Club Ladue in Ladue, Mo.

With their backgrounds, the trio has the expertise to lead the 72-member team, which includes seven cooks.

“We don’t want to become a specialty dining excursion,” Pellet said. “We want to be where you can come once a week, twice a month at least, where when you think about going out to dinner, you can keep us in mind because it doesn’t bankrupt you.”

But that doesn’t mean they are letting their standards fall. The newly appointed team knows Longboat Key and surrounding areas are home to family restaurants, grab-and-go stations and beachfront restaurants. They want Viento to be a culinary retreat.

In the new year, managers plan to revamp the menu to include seasonal items and specials. They will keep staple items, such as steak and potatoes and pastas, but want room for specials so that when 100 pounds of fish is caught, for example, it can be featured.

This way, Pellet said, people can either choose from new items or order their favorite entree, like the popular espresso bone-in ribeye, every time they visit Viento.

But the menu changes are a way for the team to highlight their capabilities.

“Leave it out of the box as much as possible,” White said. “We want people to see what we do. We don’t want to just open and reheat things. We want to put our stamp on what we do here. Let the diners and guests see us and what we do. That’s the biggest thing — freshness, and, ‘Hey, we do this.’ We take pride. Every day we show up.”

Miller said they want to emphasize that Viento, as well as the resort’s Cascades Pool Bar, is open to the public. Miller puts the price range at $8 to $15 for appetizers and entrees between $18 and $40. Viento also has an extensive wine list with a bottle prices ranging from $32 to $400 for Opus One.

“We have a wide variety for each person’s taste and affordability,” Miller said.

Viento also has a private dining room for small parties. In the future, the team hopes to host wine and beer dinners with off-menu entrees.

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