Located on the corner of Palm Avenue and Main Street, the new "restaurant row” for downtown Sarasota, Café Epicure has been a steady fixture in the local streetscape for over 12 years. Started as a simple Italian trattoria, Café Epicure has evolved into a “go-to” casual dining destination. In a significant remodel and expansion a number of years ago, Café Epicure added a stylish martini bar, more upscale dining space and comfortable, chic, South Beach-esque outdoor furniture. After this transformation, Café Epicure became the place to be seen in downtown Sarasota, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
It's true that success in any business always invites competition, but this is perhaps most true in the restaurant business. Café Epicure was not immune to this reality. With new restaurants trying to improve upon the model, Café Epicure’s unique ambience was quickly challenged. A number of people commented on the various alternatives, stating, “Café Epicure needs to step up its game.”So, we were delighted recently to check out Café Epicure for ourselves and share our thoughts on the dining experience with you. For our meals we had the following:
- Jessica Pizza: Shrimp, mozzarella, fresh tomato and garlic. $14.95
A very thin-crusted pizza, crispy and baked to perfection, showing a bit of bite in each chew. Big chunks of shrimp and pieces of tomato; sweet with a hint of garlic. Delicious.
- Carciofo Ripieno: Artichoke stuffed with smoked mozzarella and salame. $8.95
A very flavorful, earthy, rich and filling dish; can easily be shared with another.
- Tartare Di Filetto: Beef tartare. $14.95
A beautiful presentation of rich macerated beef, tender and lightly spiced, topped by a raw egg which added a creamy texture.
- Duo Di Pasta: Pasta combo: ½ rigatoni with eggplant and ricotta, ½ fusilli with peas, ham and cream. $16.95
A wonderful presentation. The pasta was cooked al dente. Sweet, salty, earthy and a great accompaniment to all the food. Loved the dish in which it was served.
- Anatra Al Forno: Half of roasted duck with herb sauce. $26.95
A very simple yet elegant presentation, deliciously cooked ... super moist on the inside, crisp on the outside. Definitely wanted to pick up the bones with my hands and keep on eating!
- Grigliata Mista Di Pesce: Grilled shrimp, calamari and scallops. $24.95
What a great dish for the seafood lover! All the seafood was fresh and cooked perfectly. A beautiful presentation. Not mentioned on the menu, the dish included a delicious organic arugula salad ... a complete meal on a single plate!
Café Epicure offers a full bar service, beer, a very nice wine list and soft drinks to accompany your meal. We found the wait staff to be very professional, friendly, attentive and genuinely interested in how we liked the food. In addition to the food items above, Café Epicure offers an array of fine homemade Italian cookies, pastries, cannoli and gelato.
With all the new options for dining in downtown Sarasota, it might be easy to overlook a longtime original like Café Epicure. However, that would be a mistake. With a relaxed, casual yet upscale ambiance, a wide range of quality food and regular drink specials, Café Epicure is still a place to be seen.
1298 N. Palm Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34236