Naples is a top flight golf destination for foodies

By Travel ArticlesMarch 27, 2012, 4:00 am

NAPLES, Fla. -- The self-proclaimed 'Golf Capital of the World' takes itself very seriously as a town for foodies.

Eateries for all budgets and taste buds rock the entire strip of U.S. 41 for more than 20 miles from Estero to Naples. It seems that every major chain has a presence on Tamiami Trail and every strip mall has a secret place worth discovering. A handful of top independent restaurants have banded together to form Naples Originals, where locally owned translates into something special on the table. Fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico remains a local delicacy.

A new Naples Food Tour ( provides guided tours of the area's best finds, including off-the-beaten-path markets, local chocolatiers, restaurants and custom caterers. Special Farmer's Market tours are offered on Saturdays.

Four annual food festivals highlight the calendar -- the Everglades Seafood Festival (always the first full weekend in February), the Marco Island Seafood Festival, the Taste of Collier (featuring the best taste treats from local restaurants) and the Stone Crab Festival.

There's even a popular restaurant guide, 'Where Should We Eat' by Sharon Kenny, which recently released its fourth edition ( with an insider's take on more than 100 area restaurants. It all adds up to quite a dining scene for such a small seasonal community of roughly 22,000 people. When I asked Sue Phelps of Connecticut what she loved about Naples as a golf destination, the first words out of her mouth were 'the proximity to great restaurants.'

Like everything else, dining out in Naples can be expensive. That doesn't stop snowbirds on vacation from splurging during high season. It doesn't hurt to make a reservation or call ahead during peak times from mid-January to mid-April.

My party wisely called Carrabba's Italian Grill in Bonita Springs ahead of time to tell the hostess we were on our way. She put us on the wait list, which had grown to more than an hour, but we got in relatively quickly while dozens of others were stranded outside. Two nights later, looking for reservations at Seasons 52 in North Naples at, we only had two choices, 4:30 p.m. or 9:30 p.m.

Planning ahead can make all the difference in making any night out a good experience. But if one place is booked, never fear. There's a place just as good, or better, nearby.

Dining in downtown Naples

Downtown Naples is a place to see and be seen. It's a Rodeo Drive clone, where boutiques, art galleries and restaurants all intermingle for a pleasant park-and-stroll.

Many of its restaurants are a part of the Naples Originals, notably Bleu Provence for French cuisine and Stoney's Steakhouse for meat. Others include Bistro 21, Dock at Crayton Cove, Mangrove Cafe, Ridgeway Bar & Grill and Sea Salt.

Bonefish Grill, Chops City Grill and Roy's have locations here and farther north along U.S. 41. All are local favorites. I've heard good things about Tommy Bahama's Restaurant (just don't spill any on your Tommy shirt!). Campiello, Cafe Luna and Pazzo! compete for the business of Italian food lovers. Just off downtown is Tin City, a unique enclave on the water with Pincher's Crab Shack and Riverwalk at Tin City (another Naples Originals member).

Relatively new hot spots are the Osetra Champagne & Caviar Bar, Alberto's On Fifth and Barbatella.

Tamiami Trail dining

Just driving up and down U.S. 41 introduces all sorts of choices, such as P.F. Chang's in North Naples. Of all the meals on my recent five-day visit to the area, my favorite was the asparagus and scallops dish at Seasons 52 in North Naples. This unique chain serves wonderfully fresh healthy meals, bookended by treats: flatbread pizzas as appetizers and mini-deserts in large shot glasses after the main course.

The Promenade, a stylish outdoor mall in Bonita Springs, features the other Roy's location and the Silver Spoon Cafe, where its ribs or salmon go down smooth.

Veering off the path in Naples is a good idea to find The Village on Venetian Bay and the M Waterfront Grille, where cutting-edge continental cuisine utilizes fresh and organic ingredients.

Coconut Point

This outdoor shopping mall in Estero is littered with dining options, from the fast-food king, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, to the high-end Ruth's Chris Steak House. Most are chains, but it's a convenient place for a date night with dinner and a movie. Some to try are the California Pizza Kitchen, Hemingway's Island Grill, Johnny Rockets, Blue Water Bistro and Ted's Montana Grill.

Resort dining in Naples

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club offers HB's On the Gulf -- the only beachfront restaurant in Naples. It serves up the latest fresh catch with a view to match. The Sunset Bar & Grill, with bar stools overlooking the beach, is a favorite hangout of both locals and resort guests. It's been named 'Best Place To View A Southwest Florida Sunset' and 'Naples' Best Beach Bar' by the Travel Channel.

Global and Lemonia, an American Bistro, feed the spoiled guests at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, next to Tiburon Golf Club. Its sister Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort, a high-rise with 450 rooms three miles away, includes the Gumbo Limbo (on the beach), The Grill (a steakhouse) and The Sushi Bar.

The Strip House, an upscale steakhouse, emerged during a rebranding of the Waldorf Astoria Naples. Tanglewood and Tarpon Bay (seafood) are found at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs.

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Two-time major champ Pettersen pregnant

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 7:14 pm

PHOENIX – Suzann Pettersen is pregnant with her first child.

Pettersen’s husband, Christian Ringvold, confirmed the news with Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz.

Pettersen, 36, who married Ringvold in January of 2017, is due in the fall. The 15-time LPGA winner and two-time major champion has yet to make her first start this year. She’s an eight-time Solheim Cup veteran.

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Watch: Woods rips iron from sand, makes birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 17, 2018, 6:10 pm

Tiger Woods didn't bogey the first hole on Saturday like he did the day prior - but he did drop at a shot at the par-3 second when he failed to get up and down from the bunker.

Luckily, it wouldn't take him long to get that stroke back. One hole later, at the dogleg-left, par-4 third, Woods ripped a 2-iron off the tee, hit a less-than-stellar approach long and right, and poured in this 38-footer for birdie to get back to even par on the day.

He followed with another at the par-5 fourth, smoking a drive 313 yards uphill, short-siding himself with his second shot, and playing this deft pitch to set up a tap-in 4.

After a par save from the bunker at 5, Woods missed the fairway right at the par-5 sixth, laid up with his second, spun a wedge to 15 feet with his third, and rolled in this third birdie of the day to move to 6 under for the week.

Woods' momentum was slowed by a bogey at 8, the product of an errant tee shot, and a missed birdie try at 9 left Tiger to make the turn in 1 under-35, minus-5 for the week.

He quickly returned to 6 under for the championship when he hit an approach from 186 to inside 10 feet at the par-4 11th and walked in the putt:

Following four straight pars, Woods for the second day in a row made an unlikely birdie at the par-5 16th after missing the fairway to the right and declining to layup.

(More coming...)

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

It was a 3-under 69 on Saturday for Tiger Woods for a 7-under total through three rounds. We tracked him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.