If you’ve heard an uptick in the private jet traffic overhead this week, it’s with good reason. This weekend welcomes the annual Naples Winter Wine Festival, a charitable event of international acclaim that has contributed more than $135 million towards Collier County children’s charities since its inception in 2001. Ridgway Bar & Grill is pleased to be a contributor to the event. The Wine Festival’s online auction features a private wine and hors d’oeuvres reception for 75 people in our courtyard. We are proud to be associated with this event that brings so much good to our community, and wish the organizers the best of luck!
Tony’s Off Third News
Did you know that Tony’s Off Third wines are available for purchase online through the Tony’s website? We always love to see you in our store, and Sukie, Wayne, and Kevin are available to help with your selections in-person, but it’s nice to know your favorite bottle can also be had with only a few clicks!
Keep it in mind for your off-season travels, or browse our inventory now and plan your next trip into the shop.
At the Table with Tony
With the holidays safely and successfully behind us and full season swinging into gear, I wanted to update our followers on what’s happening in and around Ridgway Bar & Grill and Tony’s Off Third.
Garden: The garden looks great again. We did our regular schedule of planting in mid-October, which lasted into mid-November and early December before the continuing summer-like heat and humidity took their toll. We’ve replanted and everything is green and thriving. The salvia has been considerably trimmed and should be blooming again soon. Happily we were able to source beautiful new plantings, including this year’s best color, Savannah Blue Geraniums (which, interestingly enough, are bright pink).
You may have noticed our beautiful queen’s wreath took a detour west following the recent major storm. The vines had taken a significant liking to the large avocado tree on the neighboring property, and the 20 or so feet of the tree that went down during the storm took the queen’s wreath right over the fence with it. Hopefully it will rebound back to us when the avocado tree is removed from the property! I’ll keep you posted.
Menu: You will see lots of small changes and a few more substantial ones. I’m adding items to the lunch menu to attract the young and hungry set who love great deli sandwiches. New this year are the Cuban and our house-cured pastrami. These are great additions to our very popular BLT, our USDA prime burger, and the always reliable roast beef stack. Sometimes simple is the best way to go. Here are a few reasons why these are all terrific.
The burger is made with fresh-ground USDA prime beef, griddled and served on a toasted brioche roll with house-made onion rings to garnish. It’s best medium rare to medium.
Our pastrami is made using a 10-day brine and a 12-hour in-house smoke. We make our own rye bread that is griddled to add another flavor dimension. Coarse mustard, slaw and fries complete the meal.
What can you say about the BLT? It’s a classic, and our preparation enhances all pieces of the puzzle. House-made ciabatta bread is buttered and griddled, the bacon is crisped in the oven, then add sliced, ripened tomatoes, crisp lettuce and salt and pepper and mayo and you’ve got simplicity at its best!
New dinner items this season include the sautéed salmon with a seasonal vegetable succotash and the fried chicken coq au vin-it’s not a traditional coq au vin, but it’s not designed to be, and it makes for a perfect marriage of classic and comfort!
Tony’s Off Third: Clifford Parris, now well into his second year as head baker, and I had tons of fun this fall and the entire last year creating new recipes and techniques. Our pastry dough for the galettes has achieved maximum saturation of butter! The blueberry and the frangipane and fruit varieties have been very well received, along with our timelessly popular apple galette. The yellow butter cake is so good it needs no frosting but we add that anyway. I always prefer my cakes fully at room temperature to maximize the textures and flavors.
Two new desserts were tested at our most recent pastry tasting. The lavender and vanilla-scented dried fruit marmalade cake (now that’s a mouthful to say) and our flourless and chocolate and hazelnut torte were hits. They should be in regular production by the time you read this.
Two new tortes have hit the case in recent months and are fabulous. One has layers of chocolate mousse, flourless chocolate and almond cake. The chocolate mousse is the same we use for our mousse cake, and is made in a classical preparation in the French baking manner, meaning it contains no gelatin. Gelatin seems to have become the pastry chef’s new best friend, and while it has its uses (homemade marshmallows, for one satisfying example) we tend to do things a little more old-fashioned here at Tony’s, and are confident in the quality our techniques deliver.
Ridgway restaurant news: January has been rainier and colder, and while good for the aquifer, the weather has not been conducive to outdoor dining, and we are looking forward to a return to the warmer temperatures that helped us set records on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Business looks good for the next few months. The Naples economy is still strong, and the national economy is good, even if it seems that attitudes about the market are a lot like the weather these days, variable to partly cloudy.
How are we all doing at Ridgway? We have terrific new servers and bartenders along with the usual familiar faces our regulars will recognize. Personally we are well, and are working hard to recover from some serious personal issues these past months. We are practicing the belief that we can move forward without forgetting, and are thankful for the support so many of you have shown us.
I’d say my health is fully back to normal after my surgery 13 months ago but the truth is I feel 20 years younger! Sukie is in great shape from her own health scare this summer. She and I collectively have the younger set on the run!
The courtyard bar is awaiting sun and warm days, the garden will be fully greened and awaiting diners as the sun reappears. We are primed and ready and we’re having way too much fun. Hope to see you soon and talk wine, food, family and flowers.
Other thoughts: People frequently ask me for dining recommendations around town. While naturally I hope you choose Ridgway and Tony’s for regular visits, a couple of my favorites are Keith Casey at KC American Bistro and Alex Bernard at Alexander’s. I’m happy to support all local chef-owned and operated restaurants. Send me your favorites and I’ll try them and mention them some time.