The people spoke and like any wise businessperson, Sami Rahman listened. The end result of that decision is evident by venturing inside the doors of his restaurant, Sami’s Pizza, Pasta and Grill.
A new, expanded menu debuted in December. That enlargement is partially due to the addition of a meal the eatery is now serving breakfast for the first time. The changes also included discontinuing the Mexican fare that had been offered there. However, Sami’s still offers pizza, an array of pasta dishes and other Italian favorites, salads and sandwiches, burgers and gyros, kabobs, desserts and more for the lunch and dinner crowd.
“People have been telling me there was a big demand for breakfast because a lot of restaurants on the island have a long wait and the service has kind of subsided,” said Rahman. “So I said, ‘Let me give it a try,’ and so far it has done very well for me. I have two great chefs in the morning making breakfast and so far, so good.”
Rahman also added a new executive chef to his staff at the end of last year, Johnny Koroskoski. The native of Macedonia has headed kitchens at a number of fine dining restaurants in Collier County since 2001, including Vergina, an Italian restaurant on Fifth Avenue South in Naples that once had a location on Marco Island.
A chef for 44 years, Koroskoski trained with Italian chefs in New York and New Jersey and Italy in 1971. “I saw the pastas, cheeses and oils first-hand and that’s where I’m coming from,” he said.
Since his arrival, he’s been putting his stamp on the operation by adding some unique dishes to the menu. An example is one he created, which melds capellini pasta with shrimp and jumbo lump crab meat over arugula with fresh tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.
“I try to make a difference in the sauces,” said Koroskoski. “I’m preparing fresh marinara, the brandy cream sauce, the flavors from the sauces; we’re improving them every day.
There may be an emphasis on Italian cuisine, but not to the exclusion of all else.
“People coming into Sami’s, they always have a choice in what to eat,” said Rahman. “They’re not stuck with a menu where they don‘t have any choices. It’s about the quality and the quantity, price—keeping it reasonable, and the fourth thing is being sure to offer the best service in town. I’ve always emphasized feeding people like I like to be fed and making sure that my staff knows that they’re going to be feeding people just like they would feed their own family.”
Rahman said 80% of breakfast menu items are less than $10 and lunch offerings between $12 and $15, while most dinner entrees are less than $20. There are daily breakfast, lunch and dinner specials, and deliveries are available on Marco and to Goodland and the Isles of Capri.
The changes at Sami’s have also been cosmetic and physical, highlighted by the addition of patio seating and a reconfigured parking that has yielded 25 spots at the building’s front, side and rear.
Sami’s offers live music six nights a week, except for Wednesday’s where there’s a music trivia game. There’s also live music on Saturday and Sunday mornings for breakfast diners.
Sami’s Pizza, Pasta and Grill is located at 227 N. Collier Boulevard. For more information, including viewing the menu, visit samispizza.com/ or call 239-389-7499.