Tables are structured for social distancing at the three restaurants that are open, but the waiting lists are still long. In alphabetical order, they are Capri Fish House, Island Gypsy Café and Marina, and Pelican Bend Restaurant and Marina. Could this be because their faithful patrons have been salivating while sequestering and fantasizing about the return of their favorite seafood? No doubt! It’s wise to call ahead and get your name on a list or sit outside with chilled beverages as you wait and enjoy the peace of the water, birdlife, sunset, dolphin, or all of the above. All three restaurants are situated on the beautiful, blue-green Gulf of Mexico water.
The Capri Fish House offers a diverse menu from a Mixed Grill of Grouper, Swordfish, Shrimp and Scallops, to Seafood Pasta, Sautéed Flounder, Bodacious baskets including Coconut Shrimp, Fried Clam Strips, Fried Grouper or Fried Shrimp. They have a variety of salads including a Garlic Caesar Salad, Shrimp Spinach Salad, Italian Seafood Salad, Cobb Salad Isle Capri and a Greek Salad. An 8 oz. New York Strip, several chicken dishes, a pork chop dish and pasta dishes are available. There’s a Maine “Lobstah” Salad Wrap and for contrast, another time you can order the Sausage, Peppers and Onions on a French roll. Some unique dishes include Jambalaya, Marinated Lamb Chops and Florida Lobster Tails. There are the usual children friendly meals and they have a full bar. There are some tables on the beach so you can soak your toes while enjoying cocktails.
Besides serving food, the Island Gypsy Café and Marina have a full bar, boats for rent, kayaks, tours and a gift shop; but let’s talk food! Incredibly, their kitchen is not attached to the bar/dining area and the servers practically run back with their trays full of food so it’s hot when you receive it. Their menu has something for everyone and has some gigantic portions of certain things that make your eyes bug out; i.e. the Onion Rings, “Locally World Famous” Grouper Sandwich and the Carrot Cake, which you could share between four of you. Food ranges from a variety of seafood to a Quesadilla, Thai Chicken, Caribbean Fish Tacos, Ribs, Wings, Peel and Eat Shrimp, and several unique salads and pasta dishes. The chilled Maine Lobster Salad is a big hit for $16.5. Servers are still masked, tables are distanced, and they are using one-use menus.
Pelican Bend and Marina is the restaurant old-timer on the Isles of Capri and has a faithful following that spreads the word about the delicate flavor of the sautéed fish, which by the way, is delectable every time it’s selected. There are many other favorites including Captain Birdie’s Seafood Chowder, which is consistently delicious with fish, clams, potatoes and onions in a creamy broth. Seafood baskets with a choice of two, fish, shrimp, oysters or clams, Quarter pound Black Angus burger, seafood wraps, grilled salmon and much more. There is outside dining with a view of the marina and it’s especially interesting when the Captains bring back their clients and clean the fish nearby, to the delight of the pelicans and local fish that linger in hopes of hand-outs. There is a large, screened Chickee outside on the water, with bar stools and tables and another small Chickee bar nearby for those who like to sit on stools outside in the sun and breeze. Pelican Bend Restaurant serves beer and wine only, but the wine is a healthy pour.
Guess what? There is a fourth restaurant that’s going to open on the Isles of Capri in the next few months. From a source who wishes to be unnamed, the very well-known and revered Blue Heron Restaurant was purchased before Hurricane Irma. People drove from the other side of the state to dine at the Blue Heron and Alex Alexander and her staff never let them down. If repeat patrons called ahead and said they were coming, she would inform the Chef and their favorite soup, entrée, or dessert was prepared for them.
Unfortunately, Irma took her toll on the restaurant and it had to be gutted and completely remodeled. The signs are up so it’s no secret about the name, Osteria Capri Italian Restaurant, and the type of cuisine, organic, the sign claims it will have, which will include fresh pasta made daily, steak and extraordinary pizza. The “source” was very excited about the new layout, bar, décor and lighting and as I peeked through the windows, I had to agree. It’s not nearly ready for business, but it’s going to be very special. The entire layout will be changed and, with the emphasis on Italian food, it will provide another great choice for the Isles of Capri residents and visitors from off–island.
The Isles of Capri offers many great opportunities for living, dining, recreation and fun. Boating is one of the main past-times. Joining the Isles of Capri Civic Association brings residents to informative meetings with speakers, fun-filled events for both adults and children, and participation on the Coconut-Tele, an e–newsletter that goes to residents frequently to keep them “in the know,” thanks to Ann Hall, local long-time resident. And although there are several events that were postponed, including the Bocce League, a large BBQ, Bridge, Ma Jong, Yoga, Mexican Train and regular meetings for now, the residents are distracting themselves with safe, social gatherings outside and staying positive. That’s what makes this community and the residents so special.