This weekend marks the seasonal return of Saturday brunch at Ridgway, among our favorite weekends of the year! Our brunch menu features several new enticements. If you saw our last newsletter, you were possibly tempted by our Grilled Brioche with Banana and Nutella, a worthy indulgence! On the savory side, the most popular new item so far has easily been our sweet corn grits cake served with sausage and pepper hash, avocado, pico de gallo and over-easy eggs. It hits all the right notes and we hope you try it soon! A new omelet on the menu was inspired by Tony and Wynne’s annual travels to Vermont and features our house-made ratatouille and ricotta cheese – so light and satisfying! All the usual favorites are still there for your enjoyment, as well as our standard lunch menu. After you’ve worked up an appetite strolling the Third Street South Farmer’s Market, stop by for brunch at Ridgway! Starting at 10am and running through lunch, and of course in addition to our year-round Sunday brunch.
There’s a lot going on around Ridgway and Tony’s! A few events and dates to remember:
– Hopefully you received our notice about the Tony’s Off Third wine tasting on November 9. A second email will go out tomorrow in case you missed it. Our wine tastings are always crowd-pleasers, with Sukie personally curating the wines offered.
– On Wednesday, November 16, Tony’s Off Third is hosting a complimentary pastry tasting from 2-6pm. It’s our little way of saying thanks for your support of our business, and introducing you to some of the new things we are working on.
– November 21 brings the annual Third Street South lighting of the Christmas Treeright in our Courtyard. It is always a very popular event and we highly recommend making reservations if you hope to join us that evening.
– Thanksgiving is also just around the corner, on November 24. Our traditional turkey dinner as well as a limited selection from our full dinner menu are available all day. Ridgway is beautifully decorated for the holidays and it is a lovely setting to celebrate with family and friends.
At the Table with Tony
Let me start off positively. I love Food and Wine Magazine, and read it eagerly each month, when it finally arrives on my desk. I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and saw the headline, “World’s Top 10 Life-Changing Restaurants.” A quick look and Google search confirmed it was a real article, and in fact a subject which Food & Wine magazine has written about for years.
I have no issue with the restaurants named. They are extraordinary and I’d enjoy dining in any and all of them. Where they lost me was the premise that a restaurant meal can be “life-changing.” My forty-five-year career in the restaurant business has not changed my life. It has been my life. My visit in 1977 to three Michelin-starred restaurants did not change my life, only my waist line, a struggle I continue to face! I’d like to, with respect to the editors at Food and Wine, offer a little perspective on what is important.
As much as I truly love what I do and want you to come dine with us, I hope we all recognize what restaurant dining is and the purpose it serves. So here’s my take on restaurant dining: It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it can and should be the best family time, the best time with friends or one’s partner. It should be wonderful food and service; great is even better. But, in the simplest terms, it’s just food and liquor and wine without all the trouble of shopping, cooking and cleaning up.
I think we all know what life-changing events are, and they can vary from one to the next. Restaurants can be great places to discuss them, celebrate them and, yes, mourn them, but never (or, at least only very rarely) will a meal be a life-changing event in the true sense of the word.
In the summer of 1972, I ventured over the pond to Florence and London, where I spent three weeks walking the cities and dining. For the old-timers of Naples, this preceded the opening of The Chef’s Garden on Fifth Avenue. I dined well, I visited butchers, bakers and fish mongers. I took voluminous notes and spoke almost daily with the chef and managers at Parke’s at #4 Beauchamp Place. My love of food had always been there; this trip only affirmed that passion and, yes, did give me the confidence to race forward.
These decades later I still love food and still have a passion for my work. In some ways I feel I am better at the game than ever. Perspective will do that. Life’s tragedies, actual life-changing events, can make you stronger. Discussing all matters in YOUR special restaurant – dining with those who are most important to you – it’s not the décor, it’s not the food or wine; like all of life it’s not the things that matter most, it’s the experiences we address in our special places that can soothe our souls and equally excite every fiber in our being.
I am lucky. I get to do what I love every day. There’s a wonderful baseball movie, the specifics of which I can’t remember, but the gist is simple: an old rookie says to the younger guy, “you know what we get to do today, Brooks; we get to play baseball.”
Well, you know what I get to do each day. I get to come to Ridgway Bar & Grill. I get to work with the bakers and cooks and service staff. I get to work in the garden with Wynne. I get to talk with my partner Sukie about the day and the future for Ridgway, Tony’s Off Third, Bayside and Sukie’s Wine Shop. My days are rich and full and I am blessed to still be so genuinely excited about what we do.
And after the day’s work, I can sit at a table in Ridgway, or in any other restaurant in Naples, or around the U.S. or in Europe, and dine and talk and discuss the pleasures and trials we face each day.
And from time to time I and all others sit in those restaurants and talk – about true life-changing events in the safety and warmth of a place that is designed to welcome all.