Steaking Out in Naples: The Best Places to Beef
By Chelle Koster Walton
Naples Local Expert
In the past decade, the number of steakhouses in Naples, Florida, has shot up. Not only has the quantity improved, but the quality has shot up over the top. The towns of Bonita Springs, Naples and Marco Island have a nice mix of name brand, high end franchises such as Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar and homegrown, family operated favorites such as Preston's Steakhouse. They all excel in preparing prime beef cuts in the most flavorful and tender manner possible, but this is Southwest Florida after all, so seafood is not forgotten.
Most of the steakhouses adhere to the New York style ideal of a steak and potatoes bastion with handsome clubby and masculine ambiance. Others make a departure with more modern and stylish looks. This list culls the best of the steakhouse herd from all parts of the region. It scans styles from old school to contemporary places where steak is only one of the house specialties. It reviews restaurants so clearly obsessed with steaks that they do their trimming and dry aging processes in house.
The range of prices, as beef costs continue to rise, is mostly at the top of the scale, but you will also find a few more affordable options among them.
10 Chop 239
With "chop" in its name, there's no doubting that the focus here is on meat. (239, of course, refers to the region's area code.) Choose from the standard cuts of steak, including a porterhouse for two. Pork rib chop or short ribs are more affordable options. Maine lobster is another specialty, and it comes on the surf and turf, whole or in ravioli. The menu also appeals to light and adventurous appetites with small plates. Given the restaurant's marina location and view, local seafood naturally has its place among the entrees. Try the black grouper with fennel pollen and Meyer lemon sauce. (239-394-0212)
One in a team of steakhouses owned by football legend Don Shula, this popular steakhouse at the Hilton Naples scores a touchdown with every sizzling steak that comes out of the kitchen. The award winning Shula Cut beef is the trademark of the center cut Angus beef served at the restaurant. Cuts include filet mignon in three sizes, New York and Kansas City strip and cowboy (bone in) rib eye. Lobster is also in high demand, and patrons can select their own from a tableside cart. The menu offers other seafood and, at lunch, sandwiches and salads. The steaks are substantial, but try to make room for classic sides such as crab mac and cheese or truffle fries. (239-430-4999)
8 Andre's Steakhouse
In light of the new generation of steakhouses to hit Southwest Florida, Andre's is old school; it has been in operation for more than 20 years. And although it's down from three local operations to one, it is still a local favorite. Andre's apparent mantra for success: Uncomplicated. No tablecloths. No place mats. The menu fits easily on one side of a sheet. Its dry aged steaks include strip, porterhouse for two or three, T-bone and filet mignon. There's also lamb, pork and veal chops; plus lobster, fish and chicken. The salads are fresh with house made dressings and the desserts worth every calorie.
7 Truluck's Seafood, Steak & Crab House - Naples
Part of a small, Texas-based chain of restaurants, it is anything but cookie-cutter. The dining room seems oversized at first, but its popularity fills the warm, welcoming space at the back of Inn on Fifth most nights. They come for their fix of various varieties of crab, lobster, New Orleans BBQ shrimp, miso-glazed sea bass, Scottish salmon bearnaise, cioppino and Idaho trout amandine, plus fine steaks and chops. The restaurant professes a commitment to sustainable seafood. The "Chilean sea bass," for example, comes from South Georgia. Its date night pre-fixe menu for two offers three courses for $39 a couple. ((239) 530-3131)
6 Chops City Grill
Chops City Grill has two local locations - one on Fifth Avenue South and a second in Bonita Springs. Its name is a double entendre for its fine steaks and its chopstick (Asian influence) fare. Chops fancies itself as the most spectacular steakhouse in the city, and there's a good chance the claim is right on. The atmosphere is fun and upbeat, from the Art Deco décor to the eclectic menu. Dishes include braised short rib, grilled sea bass, lamb sampler and Hawaiian Tuna, but the standouts are clearly the reasonably priced, dry aged and flawlessly prepared cuts of prime beef. (239-262-4677)
5 The Capital Grille
This fine dining franchise does its share of seafood, but steak is definitely its forte. Suave and sophisticated, the restaurant in Mercato shopping center has the classic, clubby steak house ambiance down to an art form. As it does the preparation of the best possible, juiciest, most flavorful and tender cuts of beef imaginable. Capital Grille trims and dry ages in-house, a rare occurence. It uses an infrared broiler to achieve a perfect sear. Signature is the porcini rubbed Delmonico steak with 15-year aged balsamic. The bone-in Kona coffee crusted sirloin with shallot butter also headlines on a menu that boosts steak a notch above the rest. The dinner and lunch menu both include seafood. The lunch menu also offers entrée salads and sandwiches. (239-254-0640)
4 Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
Despite the fact it is part of a fairly extensive steakhouse chain, Fleming's ranks as one of Naples' best, winning awards locally and at the state level. In addition to offering the finest cuts of meat dry aged for the best flavor, it takes some daring creative risks. Take the porcini rubbed filet mignon with gorgonzola cream, for instance. Pair it with the truffled poached lobster for pure decadent surf and turf delight. Small plates and seafood entrees offer dimension. Try the broiled Pacific swordfish with fennel cream if you are not in the mood for red meat. Fleming's award winning wine list is very progressive with sampler flights also available. (2395982424)
3 Manhattan Steakhouse
It's not all about steak here, but that's what Manhattan dares to do in competition with the big name chains like Fleming's and Ruth's Chris breathing down its neck. And with much better prices. The family-owned fine steakhouse has earned its chops, so to speak, with restaurants in New York City, Miami and beyond. Start with the Manhattan chop salad to go along with the addicting soft rolls embedded with crunchy bits of cooked onion. You can order an eight-ounce filet or porterhouses for two to four. There's also a grilled T-bone veal chop, grouper Oscar-style, Dover sole, grilled tuna steak, lobster tails, and lobster ravioli for entrees. For dessert, try the chocolate soufflé a la mode. (239-676-8687)
2 The Grill
Nothing beats a dinner out at the Ritz, where service, setting and culinary excellence combine to foment an experience that transcends mere eating by miles. The Grill excels in fine steaks, but also knows its way around seafood. Dry-aged cuts include New York strip, ribeye and Delmonico, plus filet mignon, veal chop and Colorado rack of lamb. Why not splurge further and add a side of foie gras or half a lobster tail? Signature entrees run the gamut from a decadent seafood stew with lobster, pink shrimp, mussels, octopus and clams to classic Dover sole meuniere. Despite its formality, the atmosphere feels relaxed. Live music, usually light piano, frequently entertains. (239-598-6644, 239-514-6001)
1 Preston's Steakhouse
A well-loved local standout, Preston's Steakhouse is a top notch alternative to commercial chains. You can expect a convivial but intimate and soothing atmosphere, a fantastic wine list, peerless service and, of course, incredible steaks. The Morton Bay Bugs (Australian baby lobster) or oak grilled shrimp make a great starter, and you can complement your cut of meat with an array of impressive sides. Try the tender filet paired with savory creamed spinach. Seafood too figures importantly on the menu, with a crab cake appetizer and entree, grilled swordfish, and fresh fish of the day. Dishes are generously proportioned and executed with perfection. (239-435-1986)
About Chelle Koster Walton
Chelle Koster Walton -- the Local Expert for Naples, Florida -- has been covering the destination for 30 years. Her top-selling Sarasota, Sanibel Island, and Naples guidebook (Countryman Press) is in its sixth edition. She also contributes to the destination's Web site and annual visitors guide. Chelle especially loves Naples' beaches, shopping, and restaurants. For more than 15 years she reviewed restaurants for Naples Illustrated magazine and continues to do so for Naples News. A veteran travel writer, Chelle has published thousands of articles for Miami Herald, USA TODAY, Latitudes; has written/contributed to a dozen guidebooks, and produces travel shows for the local PBS station.
Read more about Chelle Koster Walton here.