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.
Some restaurant owners prefer to stay behind the scenes. Achille and Massimo Nigri are not those people. At Cafe Amici, each guest is greeted “like a long-lost friend,” according to one happy customer. The homey eatery not only makes diners feel welcome, but also sates appetites with authentic Italian eats such as homemade lasagna, gnocchi with crabmeat, and wild mushroom ravioli. One whole wall inside the sun-soaked dining room is covered with framed accolades from local media outlets and taste buds with the ability to type.
MoZaic's head chef Dylan Elhajoui learned how to cook in his native Fes, Morocco surrounded by a family of chefs and restaurant owners, flavorful foods and fragrances, and bustling markets brimming with fresh produce. He infuses the recipes of his youth with abundant herbs and spices, organic meats, and fresh fish, depending on what can be found in that week's farmers' markets and fishermen's nets. The results are flavorful dishes, such as the seven-vegetable couscous spiced with ginger and lemon confit. Chef Elhajoui and his team also craft delicacies such as the sage-smoked duck breast, which they serve with a sweet side of poached pears, a goat-cheese polenta, and star-anise aigre-doux jus. Guests can conclude meals with one of the house's eclectic desserts, such as the Tangier—a flourless pear-and-walnut cake topped with a dollop of vanilla-bean crème anglaise and toasted-coconut ice cream.
The forecast at Tsunami Sushi Bar & Grill never changes: there’s always a heavy chance of sushi. More than 30 sushi and sashimi creations take up a good chunk of the menu, with ingredients ranging from smoked salmon to spicy scallop. Diners can set aside their chopsticks and slice into hearty orders of filet mignon teriyaki or Gal Be—Korean barbecued short ribs served with steamed greens. Tsunami serves its artful plates in a dining room that This Week in Sarasota calls “dark, rich, and casually elegant,” making the restaurant an ideal spot for a romantic date or suit fitting.
With its cheery red awnings, cool marble tabletops, and bustling coffee bar, Caf? Americano wouldn't be out of place on the narrow side streets of Europe's great capitals. Instead, it brings that same sense of continental sophistication to the artsy avenues of Sarasota's historic Five Points neighborhood. Here, diners pass the breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours with Mediterranean cuisine ranging from prosciutto and gorgonzola omelets to classic steak frites and grilled whole sea bass. As they dine, servers slip past them to a cellar brimming with 300 wines, sourced from renowned growing regions around the globe.
The locally inspired seafood at Duval's New World Cafe is freshly caught from the ocean. There's scallops rockafella, with crispy fried oysters and asparagus-mushroom risotto, and there's North Atlantic lobster tail that can be paired with chimichurri, stuffed with crab and shrimp, baked with drawn butter, or twinned with another lobster. And they cook up more than merely ocean-sourced fare: they bake lamb chops with cashew pesto and sizzle ribeyes and filet mignon until they are so hot meteorologists study it.