Food & Drinks

Prime dining at Naples’ Ocean Prime

Lee Herald Favicon 16Ocean Prime is an elegant dining location in the heart of Naples on Fifth Avenue adjacent to the Inn on Fifth. It is a meeting place for culinary enthusiasts who enjoy handcrafted cocktails and a scratch menu developed with local and regional flavors. I found this to be a perfect spot for a romantic rendezvous or post-shopping eats with friends in a relaxed setting. Ocean Prime now offers a seasonal lunch menu every day beginning at 11:00 a.m. featuring signature non-alcoholic beverages, cocktails, appetizers, sushi, salads, soups, sandwiches, raw bar items and select dinner entrees in lunch-sized portions.

My husband and I were fascinated by the remarkable decor and sensible layout of the restaurant. Most of its dining areas and private rooms are surrounded by folding glass doors that allow guests to experience the fantastic people watching and light breezes beyond the patio seating. The central circular bar brings your attention to the modern interior design and lighting with cushy barstools, private booths, tables and a large glass wine room that holds up to 5,200 bottles.
We had lunch in the sunny east atrium overlooking Fifth Avenue and the entrance to the movie theater next door. The opening act for our delicious meal began with the Berries & Bubbles Martini. It’s made with Belvedere Cytrus Vodka, Cassis, marinated berries, house made sour and Domaine Chandon Brut mixed in a shaker then poured at our table over dry ice to deliver a smokey and bubbly presentation that continued through to the last sip! Both the sweetness of the berries and champagne performed well with the flavors in the creamy Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli with Golden Oak Mushrooms. The raviolis were submerged in a rich sauce topped with basil and sun-dried tomatoes for a tasty and cohesive bite.
Next, we tried the beautiful Black Orchid Martini with Belvedere Vodka, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, hand squeezed lemon and white cranberry juice. The black orchid delicately melted inside a frozen round ice ball and was such a lovely display to see – and to drink. The partner in this dance was the Lobster Roll containing poached lobster tail, kiwi, pickled serrano, masago and spicy mango purée with jalapeño. The lobster was incredible. The plate was well balanced with the burst of tropical flavors merging together.
Launching in the second act was one of my favorite arrangements in an octopus dish. It was Ocean Prime’s Judith Calamari with sweet chili sauce and Thai chilis finished with black and white sesame seeds and the freshest bean sprouts ever. The waitress told us that the restaurant gets a delivery every day to ensure the freshest and highest quality in all foods including veggies and herbs – in addition to their selection of meats, pork, chicken, lamb and fish. A natural asset to calamari is of course lime juice, and it came in the form of a Tequila Cocktail containing Corzo Silver Tequila, fresh squeezed orange juice as well as lime juice and house infused Agave Nectar. The rim was covered in cinnamon and brown sugar. So YUM. This food and cocktail pairing tops the charts.
Like seafood? You get to custom build your own “Smoking” Shellfish Tower.” And, yes, it does arrive smoking with shuck and awe! Choose as many as you want from oysters on the half shell, chilled crab meat, giant shrimp, fresh and succulent lobster or Dutch Harbor King Crab Legs. Not one is backstaged by the other. The shellfish is stacked up high. In this supporting act, comes the delightful and refreshing Cucumber Gimlet made with Bombay Sapphire Gin, muddled fresh cucumber and hand squeezed lime.
Executive Chef Jason Mallon(Photo: Shana
Overhulser/Special to Naples Herald)

A grand entrance was made by two chef specialty entrees. The Chilean Sea Bass, which was tremendous in size and flakey, came adorned with glazed carrots, mashed potatoes and champagne truffle sauce.

The 16-ounce ribeye made a huge hit with a sensational au poivre sauce of cracked peppercorns and mushroom. Each bite was singing in richly flavored prime beef cords. The drink of choice: Old Fashioned Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel — Private Selection with Aperol and Angostura Bitters. The delicious finale was sky high eight-layer Carrot Cake. It all is a fantastic culinary performance by Chef Jason Mallon and his staff.
From bubbles, bourbon, and gimlets to lobster rolls, sea bass, raviliois and prime steak choices…Ocean Prime in Naples is the culinary hub to dine at time and again for every meal and every reason. It is exhilarating for the foodie in all of us and holds all the excitement and glory you’d expect in a dining experience.
609 Fifth Avenue South, Naples
(First Floor of the Inn on Fifth)
Reservations: (239)430-0404

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