Thursday, April 22, 2021

Generations of Iterations of a Quaint Restaurant on Isles of Capri: Here’s the Story

Here’s the Story
Ruminations from the Rock and Beyond

Photos by Jory Westberry | As you relax into the sunset, let the peace seep into your soul at Osteria Capri.


 

I had the pleasure of meeting Alex Alexander about 10 years ago when she jogged the streets of Isles of Capri without breathing hard, while I felt fatigued just watching her run past my house. While doing her standard running miles, she noticed some developers checking out The Blue Heron property. In all probability, she thought thproperty and building would sell quickly, and sadly, be demolished so she bought the quaint, intimate restaurant to keep it on the Isles and continue the tradition it started.  

The previous owners were Denny and Ecky (15 years), Peter and Cookie (12 years), and next John and Alex (17 years) put The Blue Heron on the exceptional dining map. After its purchase, Alex immediately applied her unique flair to her new restaurant challenge and they had a faithful following ever since they opened. 

Alex was no stranger to fine dining as she managed the Bel-Air restaurant in Los Angeles for many years. Located in the oldest area of Beverly Hills, the Hotel Bel-Air has entertained the rich and famous, including stars, presidents and dignitaries from all over the world. In fact, Alex also managed 5-star restaurants in New York, Virginia, and Dallas, so you could say, “She’s a pro!” 

They rarely had foot traffic at the Blue Heron, unlike the other more casual dining choices on the Isles of Capri. Reservations were highly recommended because of the variety of entrees and extensive wine list, which was not what patrons first expected on their first visit. There were some entrees that were surprising for a cozy restaurant on an islandlike Lobster Thermador, Venison, Rack of Lamb and Crispy Duck. Domestic accompanied by foreign wines, served to perfection from California to France, Italy, Chile and beyond. Desserts were unique and delicious including white chocolate Trinity cream, rum cake and Belgian chocolate mousse. I can personally attest to perfectly seasoned Surf and Turf preceded by fresh salad tossed at the table. 

In the 17+ years that I owned and managed the Blue Heron, there were only five customers that were disrespectful and I’m not exaggerating because I kept track. We had hundreds of repeat patrons who requested the same table, ‘their table, each time. When regular customer makes a reservation and has a favorite soup, for example, our chef would make it to order even if it’s not on the menu that night. This special treatment was priceless to our customers, Alex explained. And that’s a reason why there were so many that loved to repeat their experience.” 

Her husband, John Rogers, added, “One of our customers frequently would drive over from Miami to have the ‘best Crispy Duck he’s ever had,’ his words, not mine. Our staff was the world’s greatest staff, bar none, and they served our guests with grace and expertise. We’ve become almost like family over the years that we’ve served them. Our high standards and the knowledge we have about their preferences, to them, was priceless.

 



 

Her most devoted supporter, her husband John, wants only the best for her. “At the end of this season, which is Mother’s Day, June 12, 2017, we’ll move on to a life with less stress and a myriad of possibilities. Right now, we’re not sure what it will be, but it will be enriching because that’s what Alex needs and deserves.” 

There were several offers to purchase that was presented to Alex, but decisions take time. John will keep the marina, but The Blue Heron will be under new ownership sometime after June 12, 2017. After the closing and purchase, Alex and John will be off to adventures unknown at this writing. My hope is that they find respite in nature and calm in daily events that soothe their souls. They both deserve it and can look back with pride in what they accomplished.  

Fast forward to September 10, 2017, when that special girl “Irma” roiled over Collier County and several others with 115 mile per hour winds. In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the Blue Heron building was devastated and needed substantial renovating, which took months to accomplish, due to the supply/demand issues and extensive rebuilding that had to be done state-wide. 

Finally, in October 2020, the newest restaurant, Osteria Capri, opened its doors with an Italianfocused menu and of course, a gigantic pizza oven along with the view of the boats, bay and sunsets. The restaurant is also open for lunch. 

Owner, Chef Black, formerly from Sicily, also has extensive experience in the restaurant business, ranging from Italy to Paris to New York City and now Florida. He studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and brings a wealth of knowledge to our little island. He’s a huge proponent of organic ingredients locally grown, along with his organic herb garden surrounding the outside patio, which helps season the wide variety of Italian favorites including several varieties of pizza. He’ll be importing specialty items from Italy that can’t be found locally, especially their famous Italian tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. 

The little restaurant on Isles of Capri has experienced several incarnations and each one has built a clientele of faithful repeat customers. If you want to know more about Osteria Capri, go to the website at www.OsteriaCapri for menus and more information. Did I mention that fresh pasta and specials are created daily to accompany any of their 100 varieties of wine from all over the world? Did I mention that Chef Black will cook your steak to perfection outside where you can bask in the aromas as you watch the birds, boats and beautiful sunsets with a sparkling glass of wine? Did I mention… 

 


 

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