By Natalie Strom
Mango’s Dockside Bistro unveiled its new menu on September 22, and it was to die for! Fresh and inventive sushi, brand new entrees and mini desserts delighted palates at the colorful restaurant, equipped with beautiful saltwater fish tanks, outdoor seating, a sushi bar and even a waterfall.
The success of the new menu, according to owner Lauren Feinman, is due to the hiring of a new Executive Chef and a new Executive Sushi Chef, both of which worked in tandem with Chef Annie Feinman, Lauren’s mother and partner, to create the delectable dishes. The menu is based on an Asian and Caribbean theme with a twist; they call it “Florasian.”
Sushi Chef James McGonigal and Executive Chef Eric Delano have been with the Mango’s team for only a short time, but have already made quite the impression (and it’s not just for their looks, ladies). Both men have backgrounds that nearly mirror one another, and with the chance to combine their skills, have taken the caliber of Marco dining to a whole new level.
As Sushi Chef James explains, “I came in about a month ago, and Chef Annie and I discussed what direction we wanted to take the food. The idea was to blend the sushi with the main menu.” But before starting on the menu, James began to change up the sushi items. “I’m a little more of a ‘wow factor’ type of chef. From me, you’ll see a little more than just your average California roll. Here I have that capability,” he explains. His menu features different takes on certain favorites, but will also have seasonal offerings. “In a few weeks, we’ll be able to add more. The waters are getting colder so they’ll be bringing in different fish.”
James admits his favorite food is sushi and his palate is clearly quite discerning when it comes to raw fish. “As I’ve expanded, comparing different tastes, it’s almost like you know right where (the fish) came from.”
With a lengthy culinary career, beginning with cooking in his mom’s restaurant at the age of 12, James has been around the world cooking up more than just sushi. He graduated from both Le Cordon Bleu and the Culinary Institute of America and has traveled to work in high profile restaurants in Chicago, Colorado, Fort Myers and even Thailand. He can cook just about anything – from French cuisine to his favorite, sushi.
“Eric and I are looking to set the bar for cuisine in Southwest Florida. We have a common goal, and that is for this restaurant to succeed, and we enjoy working together, too,” he adds.
Executive Chef Eric Delano debuted his entrees at the September 22 party with only a few days under his belt in his new role. But that didn’t stop him from mingling with guests, getting to know Marco Island locals and showing off his beautiful edible creations. Tempura crab cakes, bone-in chicken with jerk teriyaki sauce, macadamia nut encrusted mahi mahi, cajun blackened grouper and a mouth-watering filet sat out for all to try, with many patrons taking a bite – then another, then another. (Or maybe that was just me…)
Surrounding a large martini centerpiece sat Eric’s new mini pastry line to be served daily. “It’s a miniature line of desserts, just three to four bites. At the end of a meal, it’s hard to eat a big dessert, but just a little something sweet is perfect,” he says. Every one comes with a pipette filled with extra sauce so the patron can squeeze it into the dessert as desired. The pipette – also used in some of the main entrees – is described by Eric as “interactive dining.”
Mango’s will offer mini desserts in flavors such as Key West key lime pie, a mini tiramisu, strawberry almond shortcake, espresso and chocolate mousse, and Eric’s favorite, chocolate pate with fostered bananas and frangelico cream. Don’t be scared off by the pate part; this is no liver, but rather a chocolate soufflé with fudge.
Of his experience at Mango’s thus far, Eric says, “When I met Annie and the night team, I knew this was a good fit. We share the same philosophy – fine food and fresh food. We all hit it off, and it’s been like home from day one.”
Eric, like James began his life in the restaurant industry at a young age. He began as a dishwasher in New Hampshire when he was just 11 years old. After graduating from culinary school, he was recruited to work with a team of 12, taking over management of 25 hotel restaurants on the east coast and redeveloping their entire menus. He also worked as a chef during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, feeding 35,000 people per day including athletes and guests. Eric then set off to Boston where he was the Executive Chef for the entire Royal Sonesta Hotel line – seven in total. He moved from there to work for hotels in Sarasota, eventually making his way down to 5th Avenue in Naples.
Of all the things he’s done, however, the most important one was starting up his own catering company, says Eric. Only a few years ago, he began SMH Catering, a non-profit company based in Naples where all proceeds go to St. Matthew’s House.
Joining up with the Feinman family, known for their hospitality, colorful atmosphere and fresh food and thoughts, both Eric and James seem to have found a new home. A home where they can express their individual talents while still working with the entire Mango’s team. Stop by and have a seat at one of the tables and the Mango’s family will not disappoint.
Mango’s Dockside Bistro is located at 760 N. Collier Boulevard in the Esplanade. For more information call 239-393-2434 or visit http://mangosdocksidebistro.com.