By the time he was 20, Christian Zebier was serving as maître d'hôtel for a prestigious restaurant in Belgium. After a five-year stint teaching primary school, he realized that his heart lay in hospitality, and that children have terrible table manners. The first business Zebier began, Air du Temps, deployed an elite staff to serve such distinguished parties as the Belgian royal family.
Zebier stuffed his fine-tuned sense of hospitality into a suitcase and brought it to the United States, where he opened Brasserie Belge. He felt that Sarasota's open-minded, well-traveled residents could appreciate the traditional ambiance of a brasserie. The restaurant's attentive staff serves a menu of Belgian cuisine, such as Prince Edward Island mussels delivered fresh every morning and served with one of 12 styles of belgian fries. On the leather couches of the piano lounge, patrons enjoy Belgian beers, specialty martinis, and small plates.
You'll never find a packet of dry spaghetti noodles, nor a bag of frozen ravioli, in the kitchen at Giuseppe's Ristorante. That's because the restaurant's Italian-born chef, Eduardo, insists on making every piece of pasta from scratch. He rolls out thin layers of eggy dough to make fresh ravioli, butterfly-shaped farfalle, and long, flat fettuccine noodles perfect for sopping up sauce or lassoing morsels from your date's dinner plate.
After Eduardo has cut and shaped these pastas, he serves them up with proteins such as calamari, salmon, or tender veal, and sauces such as marsala or creamy b?chamel. Just-baked pizzas, salads, and a selection of gluten-free pasta dishes round out the menu. Servers prepare coffee drinks, pour wine, and serve beer?including Italian imports such as Moretti La Rossa. For dessert, try the made-from-scratch zeppole pastry or the affogato, which pairs rich espresso with creamy ice cream.
Nina Lakatos and Lynn Morris, two actual girls, wanted to live healthier lifestyles. They tried combining juices and raw, plant-based vegan foods and discovered that they "made them feel fantastic." Their friends took notice of the duo's improved health and energy and became curious about how to live such a lifestyle. Being a professional chef and professional photographer, the two knew how to make good food and how to make their good food look good, too. So, they started Two Girls Food, making fresh juices and vegan entrees each morning from scratch and delivering them to customers around town. They also offer pickup service in the morning at two locations.
Former pro baseball player Shane William Rawley helms Shaner's Restaurant, where an arm that pitched 12 seasons in the major leagues now hoists menus of Italian and American food. The menu features burgers and sandwiches such as italian sausage and roast beef, alongside thin-crust pizzas such as the five-cheese white pizza and the supreme, boasting a medley of meat and vegetables. Sports games play on 14 high-definition televisions throughout the dining room, which also makes way for dancing powered by the tunes of a live DJ on Friday and Saturday nights.
Oftentimes, those who find success in a given venture continually try to replicate their initial victory. But when Sean Murphy and Susan Timmins, owners of the award-winning Beach Bistro, were conceptualizing a new restaurant, they decided to go in a brand new direction. That direction was Eat Here, a more casual eatery with chef-crafted food in a charmingly stripped-down atmosphere. Instead of elegant stemware, there's mismatched cutlery from vintage stores; rather than fresh roses, there are sunflowers in old wine bottles.
The approach is working?Eat Here has emulated its big sibling's spot in Florida Trend's Golden Spoon Hall of Fame by winning Best New Restaurant awards from the same publication. The menu has a definite sense of humor (see the Better Than Any Frenchman's onion soup) and exciting presentations of luxury ingredients, such as lobster tacos and ice cubes shaped like gold bars. Complementing the selection of wild-caught seafood, wood stone pizzas, and revived American favorites are handcrafted cocktails, including lemongrass caipirinhas and watermelon mojitos.
Each morning, Word of Mouth Downtown greets the sun with a breakfast of homespun comfort food. Everything from homemade corned-beef hash with sliced tomatoes and eggs to buttermilk pancakes topped with fruit, nuts, or chocolate chips joins a mountain of freshly baked scones and croissants. "Go for the muffin and order it grilled," recommends Sarasota Magazine. "Sounds odd, tastes delicious."
When lunch rolls around, orders shift away from omelets and coffee to soups, salads, and sandwiches. BLTs appear alongside specialty snacks such as a Cuban-style panini and the 8-ounce WOM burger. The best setting to enjoy these bites if you're a dog owner? On the canine-friendly patio, where dogs can munch on a handful of treats, drink a bowl of ice-cold water, and wear a napkin folded up to look like a little hat.