The Coyne family didn't forget their heritage when they left Ocean City, Maryland, to move to Sarasota, Florida. They took their native region's recipes with them and their love for local, fresh food, and the menu at Coyne's Pier 28 stands as evidence with jumbo lump crab cakes, crab pretzels, and a raw oyster bar. Their entrées feature fish from every sea, including items such as big island ahi tuna and the North Atlantic codfather, found in Francis Ford Coppola's pool. They also hosts events such as trivia night, ladies’ night, and hospitality night.
A flash of silver glimmers in Little Sarasota Bay, mere feet from the lush, tropical patio of Ophelia's on the Bay. It could be the belly of a leaping dolphin, the petals of a water lily, or the shiny lures of fishermen as they reel in the evening's catch. No matter its source, this sparkle reminds guests that simple pastimes such as nature gazing and family dinners are among life's greatest riches. Owner Stanley Ferro has honored this sentiment by naming Ophelia's after his grandmother, an epicure who has lived in Sarasota for more than 40 years.
In the kitchen, chefs use black grouper and tuna to showcase recipes from Florida's coasts and seaside countries such as France, Nicaragua, and Japan. Maine lobster tails morph into Mexican-inspired rellenos, and New England sea scallops bask in an emulsion of caramelized shallots and dill. Within the dining room, floor-to-ceiling windows frame views of the bay, where sea captains dock their boats or play Marco Polo with the nearby nesting herons. As the evening sky dims, moonlight casts a romantic glow over the patio's white tablecloths, and guests raise glasses of French champagne to a lovely evening under the stars.
At Selva, Latin America meets the United States atop plates splashed with "Peruvian cooking reinterpreted with polish and sophistication," according to the Herald-Tribune. Dubbed Nuevo Latino cuisine, the menu's signature ceviches and seafood entrees hint at eastern origins due to Peru's influx of Asian immigrants. The Ceviche de Ostras, for example, is tinged with ginger and rocoto, a Peruvian pepper, divided into "three white espresso cups…each containing oysters floating in leche de tigre, or tiger's milk." Joined by more familiar dishes such as chili-glazed Chilean salmon and bone-in veal chops, the ceviches claim a large chunk of the menu. The wine list contains exotic offerings from Argentina and Italy.
The dining room vibrates around an aesthetic centerpiece, a glass wall glazed with chunks of color that conjure imagines of a swirling mosaic. With auburn walls and plush couches, the lounge area facilitates chatter and nickel-filled pillow fights as live DJs spin tracks until 1 a.m. on weekends. Outside, water spills over a wall beside the patio seating.
At O'Maddy's Bar & Grille, chef Wade Parrish takes ownership for more than the menu; as the man who built O'Maddy's, Wade takes credit for the waterfront view. When construction wrapped up more than 20 years ago, Wade tossed his tools into the Boca Ciega Bay and became a full-time executive chef, cooking starters such as gator bites with Guinness breading ($7.95) and clams with cilantro pesto and toast ($8.95) for soaking up juices or dabbing away drool slicks. From the entrees, Gulf of Mexico red grouper ($15.95) arrives grilled, blackened, or fried, and a 6-ounce grilled Maddy's filet partners with fontina cheese, fresh basil, and a Marsala demi-glace ($17.95). The drink menu promises refreshment with a multitude of wines, beers, and cocktails. An aromatic and fruity glass of Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc ($6) plays well with ocean fruits, and a Gulfport Guava Breeze tropical cocktail gently whistles down gullets. Decorating the restaurant's walls, a beach mural serves as the backdrop for nightly karaoke. When the microphone comes out at 9:30 p.m., guests can belt out a classic or croon "Just the Two of Us" to the last remaining clam.
When searching for the perfect place to open up their new eatery, Fish Tales Seafood & Steak House owners Dan and Peggy Wesner got all the way to the edge of the ocean, threw up their arms, and said, "good enough." Today, their endeavor has paid off, and diners from near and far come to feast on the restaurant's flaky fish sandwiches. Each day, the kitchen releases its bounty of freshly caught whitefish and tuna onto plates, serving it in steak, fillet, or sandwich form. Chefs also assemble steak, chicken, and salmon into skillets, which arrive to tables chock-full of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and green beans.
Fish Tale’s marina-side location attracts visitors from water and land, with room to dock your sailboat or warmongering naval flotilla. Wooden benches and tiki accoutrements adorn the dining room, and bartenders at the eatery’s two waterfront bars dispense a bevy of frosty brews.
At Fresco's Waterfront Bistro, guests lounge on an expansive wraparound patio looking out over elegantly plated dishes of shrimp and calamari to consume views of Tampa Bay. Dockside diners can pair seafood entrees with martinis, margaritas, or draught beers. As night falls, eats will be illuminated by colorful lights, which will also reflect off the water and treat local marine life to a free laser-light show.