Macaroons! That seems to be the big news at Sea Salt Naples on Third Street South this summer. The seven-year-old Old Naples darling recently debuted its summer menu and specials for 2015, with a big round of applause for its first-ever dedicated in-house pastry chef, Chelsea Phillips from South Africa.
Her precisely crusted macaroons come in seven different flavors, including passionfruit with white chocolate, pistachio saffron and the signature smoked sea salt with caramel. In addition for sweet toothers, there's the Genoa lemon and blueberry sponge cake with mascarpone, as well as a poached pear dish that transcends description.
Desserts are not all that’s new at Sea Salt, however. Fans of Chef-owner Fabrizio Aielli know that he has published a work-of-art coffee table cookbook that tells his story and shares his genius recipes. Titled simply Sea Salt, it's available for sale at the restaurant.
The summer's corn bisque features a bacon and smoked potato hash — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
In it, you learn about the chef’s journey from homeland Venice to the Caribbean, then on to two highly acclaimed restaurants that he opened in Washington, D.C. He finally landed at Sea Salt and Barbatella in Naples and, earlier this year, opened a second Sea Salt in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla.
That man is busy! And oh-so charismatic, along with his wife and business partner, sweet-as-macaroons Ingrid.
Sea Salt’s menu changes seasonally to take advantage of what’s growing and swimming in Southwest Florida at the time. Some highlights of the new summer menu include Zellwood corn bisque with double smoked potato hash and octopus with raisin tomato, smoked potato, crustacean sauce and summer truffle jam.
Chef Fabrizio Aielli at the Fisherman's Case — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
Also new, as a direct result of Aielli’s oyster bar focus in the new St. Petersburg restaurant, is an extended selection of raw oysters from around North America, served at by-the-oyster prices for those who wish to taste and compare.
As always, guests have the option to choose from Sea Salt’s Fisherman’s Case or reserve the Chef’s Table for the utmost in customized dining and foodie nirvana.
Dinner courses on the regular menu range from fettucini with Waygu beef ragu Bolognese and ora king salmon with marinated chickpea salad and smoked paprika shrimp with carrot-feta vinaigrette to two-bone elk rack with crispy eggplant blackberry gratin and Akaushi beef tenderloin with cocoa nibs and foie gras sauce.
Every ingredient used in the Sea Salt kitchen is made in house, or else it's the best and freshest possible farm and fish market product available.
At lunch, try the lobster Reuben sandwich or blackened ahi tuna medallions with avocado, mango and spicy balsamic vinaigrette.
From 3 p.m. to close, the bar menu offers black ink mango and crab ravioli, black truffle poached Kobe hot dog and other such extraordinary licks.
Summer nightly specials include $21 Steak & Fries every Monday; a three-pasta tasting experience for $11 on Tuesdays; half-price bottles of wine under $100 on Wednesdays; and $2 oysters and $5 Bloody Marys or house martinis all day on Sunday.