Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Mar Vista: Old Florida Charm on Longboat Key

Originally built a bait shop in 1913 but spared when a hurricane in 1921 wiped out large chunks of the Island, the Mar Vista is considered one of the twelve oldest surviving structures on Longboat Key, and currently undergoing a significant renovation to include a second floor outdoor dining area and fabulous new 4800 square foot kitchen. One of my parent's favourite spots for lunch, no trip to Longboat would be complete without a pilgrimage to this charming Old Florida dockside gem. Arrive by boat and moor at one of Mar Vista's private docks, and enjoy fresh Florida seafood, Grouper Sandwiches and cool sangria on one of the coveted tables on the beach, nestled under a canopy of majestic Buttonwood trees overlooking beautiful Sarasota Bay. Known more familiarly by locals as 'The Pub', Mar Vista is owned by Chiles Restaurant Group, which also owns the Beach House Restaurant on Bradenton Beach and the Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria. The menus at each of the restaurants are much the same, serving a vast array of fresh seafood, sandwiches and salads, but one feature in which they all excel are their sensational waterfront locations and spectacular views. Everything just tastes better when you can squish your toes in powdery fine white sand, soak up the sun and gaze longingly at the azure blue water. An ice cold beer doesn't hurt either.

Jack the blue parrot was brought ashore by one of the boats docked at Mar Vista

An iced cold Stella Artois on a hot humid afternoon - wonderful!

Burrata and Tomato Salad with fresh basil and an olive oil truffle glaze

'Tater Tots' made with mashed potato, onion, jalapeno and Monterey jack cheese, rolled into golfball size mounds, deep fried and served with a chipotle honey mustard sauce

Florida Smoked Fish Dip

1/2-pound Stone Crab Claws

The Seafood Castle at Mar Vista is new on the menu, 
a two tiered plethora of delicious, sustainable and locally sourced shellfish, crab and fresh fish

Coconut Shrimp Salad

The Mar Vista Burger topped with cheddar, tomato, red onion and lettuce and served with frites

The Mar Vista dock available for boats, kayaks and seaplanes to pull up and dine under the buttonwood trees or take advantage of the restaurants extensive tai-out menu

Capellini with Guanciale and Shaved Bottarga
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of chef George Quattromani

2 oz guanciale 
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Bottarga 
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
Fresh breadcrumbs
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 package dried capellini 

Slice the guanciale and sauté in olive oil until it is crisp around the edges. Reserve the rendered quanciale and save the oil. Boil the Capellini until al dente. Toss the hot pasta out of the pot, leaving a bit of pasta water in the bowl, and add the reserved oil and another dash of olive oil, along with a dash of red pepper flakes. Add the bottarga and Parmesan cheese, and toss. Sprinkle a little bottarga and crunchy fresh breadcrumbs on top, and serve.