Either you're a Third Street fan or a Fifth Avenue person: that’s how they roll in Naples. Even though the two shopping, dining and entertainment districts lie only blocks apart in Old Naples, locals – especially those who live in and around the downtown area – take sides.
When it comes to entertainment, Fifth Avenue South has always tipped the scales slightly. That may change, however, with the opening of The Continental on Third Street South.
Like most downtown nightlife establishments, it serves a dual purpose as a fine dining restaurant. A break-out-of-the-dining-room-box kind of steakhouse that bends all the rules, the cleverly designed indoor-outdoor restaurant turns into a lively dance floor in the late hours.
The outdoor bar and craft cocktail orbs at The Continental — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
“Building a steakhouse that isn’t tied to that formula of being a dark box and all indoors, we had the opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done here before,” says Michael Smith, director of operations.
That sense of freedom shows in a menu that takes risks, but with confident aplomb and expertly preconception-shaking culinary masterworks.
The groundbreaking boldness extends to live music that starts during the dinner hours in the restaurant’s bougainvillea-wreathed courtyard. The stage occupies one in a row of cabanas; the others are available for seating, with a measure of privacy.
Upbeat music builds in liveliness as the dining hours turn into wee hours. Diners from other neighboring restaurants drift in to join The Continental diners at the bar or on the dance floor.
The former, an al fresco bar, draws a convivial gathering lunch, dinner and beyond. It specializes in Prohibition-era classic cocktails and tipples of its own invention.
“We were the first here to do full-blown craft cocktails,” says Smith. “It adds to the attraction.”
The Continental redesigned the old Handsome Harry's for an experience quite out of the ordinary — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
As a novelty, the bar serves five of its signature craft cocktails from hand-blown glass orbs that hang over the bar. They include The Continental Innovation, blended with Death’s Door gin, Cocchi Americano Bianco, Carpano Bianco and grapefruit bitters.
Made-to-order craft cocktails include a Sazarac – stirred with Old Overholt rye whiskey, yellow chartreuse, absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters – and The Church Key, Four Roses small batch bourbon, blueberry-sage shrub and lemon.
The Continental’s savvy wine menu lists 25 by the glass and devotes one page plus each to “Chardonnay in Every Style,” “Burgundian Descendants” and “Reserve List” bottles.
Take note that Thursday night is Half-Price Wine Night for bottles under $100.
The bar menu serves appetites from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. (and until midnight Thursday through Saturday), with the best burger you will ever bite. The Continental Burger uses scraps from all the restaurant’s top beef ranch cuts – from the richly marbled Japanese Wagyu A-5 to the lean and tender Piedmontese.
Or sample the equally decadent Caviar Parfait, layered with egg salad and crème fraîche.
In the off-season – summer and fall – The Incorrigibles Band plays blues, country, rock and R&B Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
In high season, there are usually three bands interchanging daily, including during Sunday brunch. Link Montana and the Rough Riders are one headliner.