New restaurants await your tastebuds in Lakewood Ranch
The Lakewood Ranch region is attracting a host of new restaurants, including those with popular followings in downtown Sarasota.
| 5:00 a.m. August 15, 2023
Arts + Entertainment
Eat + Drink
Foodies, rejoice. After three years of pandemic delays, several new restaurants have come (or are on their way) to the Lakewood Ranch region. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s on the menu.
Like Owen’s Fish Camp in downtown Sarasota, the new Owen’s at Center Point is the place to go for flopping fresh fish, fish camp vibes and the brand’s inventive take on regional cuisine. The first inkling that this iconic restaurant was opening a second location was in 2020 when the Caragiulo family — owners of the original Owen’s — announced their Lakewood Ranch debut. What sparked their decision to get cooking here? According to co-owner Mark Caragiulo, it was their close relationship with Casto, Center Point’s developer. “The developer gave us the opportunity to do our own interpretation in a free-standing building,” says Caragiulo, adding that the biggest difference between the two venues is size and décor. The downtown Sarasota version is more intimate and reflects Florida’s fish camp history. The Lakewood Ranch-based Owen’s features an Adirondack-style lake house ambiance adorned with rustic canoes, vintage glass nautical lanterns, fishing poles and a schooner, and a spacious outdoor entertainment area and much larger kitchen. “That gives us the opportunity to create a broader menu,” says Caragiulo. Don’t miss: The vegan heirloom tomato tart.
Forked at Waterside celebrated its grand opening on May 31, although its long road to ribbon-cutting began in 2020. “I was looking for a place to live in Lakewood Ranch when I heard about Waterside,” says Michael Kemsley, the majority owner. He adds that he not only found the “perfect” place for Forked; he also found the perfect place to live — in Country Club East. What’s Forked’s secret formula? Breakfast, lunch and cocktails served up in a light-filled, welcoming environment. “The first thing you see when you enter is our neon message: ‘Be the reason someone smiles today,’” says Kemsley. Don’t miss: Fried chicken and waffles, starring Cajun-coated chicken breast, bacon and spicy syrup. Looking for something, er, strong to start your day? Forked’s Bourbon for Breakfast, made with Horse Soldier Bourbon, Lavazza cold brew and Amaro Montenegro will kickstart the morning.
If You Go: 7600 Island Cove Terrace, Waterside Place, Lakewood Ranch; 941-355-3672; ForkedEats.com.
Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar offers a creative take on traditional Mexican fare and a spirited 6,200-square-foot, open-air restaurant and bar to enjoy it in. There’s live entertainment, 300 varieties of tequila, and an all-you-can-drink weekend brunch menu. Fun fact: Owner Rocco Mangel (who owns nine other restaurants) didn’t want to open the “typical Mexican restaurant with a pinata, a skeleton on the wall, where you would be playing the Mexican Hat Dance. I’m half Italian and half Jewish, but I wanted to embrace the Mexican culture.”
If You Go: University Town Center, 243 N. Cattlemen Road, Sarasota; 941-477-8226; RoccosTacos.com.
Owner Gary Blake describes his Adolfo’s Italian Market and Pizzeria in the San Marco Plaza as a “one-stop shop for authentic Italian meats, cheeses, pizza, wine, beer and grocery goods.” Blake’s great-grandfather, Leopoldo Colantuono, came from Naples, Italy, and passed on time-honored family recipes that are used in Adolfo’s signature offerings, including the pastries, pizza dough and breads, which are made by Blake’s uncle in St. Petersburg and delivered fresh daily. Don’t miss: Paulie’s succulent meatball parm (yes, that Paulie).
If You Go: Adolfo’s Italian Market & Pizzeria, 8225 Natures Way, Unit 111, Lakewood Ranch; 941-388-8701; AdolfosLWR.com.
Worth the wait
As of press time, Osteria 500 had just opened. Co-owner Carmine Ussano says the initial delays were pandemic-related but adds that the slow pace is also because they’re importing key items from Italy, including the pizza oven, furniture and tiles. The menu offers up fresh seafood and pasta dishes, pizza and steaks cooked on a Brazilian charcoal grill. Fun facts: The owners flew a Fiat Cinquecento in from Naples, Italy, and placed a pizza oven on top of it. Oh — and the cocktail bar is a blue Citroen truck.
The first news about Tsunami Sushi & Hibachi Grill — the popular Japanese restaurant in downtown Sarasota — coming to the Ranch was in 2021. According to co-owner Jeffrey Karasawa, the opening has been delayed because of supply chain issues and Hurricane Ian, “when some of our contractors left to go do projects (on places with hurricane damage).” At press time, in June, Karasawa said Tsunami would open by the first of August. Don’t miss: The restaurant plans to transform from a family-friendly vibe during the day into a live music and entertainment spot at night.
In the works
The Mexican-inspired restaurant and tequila bar Agave Bandido will dish out contemporary Mexican cuisine in a lively space at Waterside Place, plus more than 250 tequilas and mezcals. AgaveBandido.com.
Slated to open sometime this year at Waterside Place, Deep Lagoon Seafood & Oyster House specializes in seafood. The restaurant will feature both indoor and outdoor bars, a patio with lake views, and spacious dining rooms. DeepLagoon.com.