All sorts of openings and events kept me tasting and toasting this week.
By Judi Gallagher
Honestly, I don’t know how the newspaper’s social columnist, Marjorie North, does it! I had four events this week, and I am pooped. Marjorie had 24 events and the other night at The Ritz-Carlton Beach Club looked as beautiful as ever, not one stain or dribble representing the numerous luncheons, cocktail parties and opening galas she was covering. I, on the other hand, had soy sauce stains, red wine blotches and a few crumbles from a dropped sushi en route to my mouth.
It was a week to celebrate. that is for sure, beginning with the grand opening of the Lido Beach Grille (formerly Christopher’s). Bravo to Anthony Puccio for enlisting Chef Mario Martinez as executive chef. Mario, formerly of the Disney Institute and Fred’s and Morton’s is a welcome addition, and the feast the other night represents a new Mediterranean influence for the restaurant. The paella pan was enormous and flavorful and a welcome addition to the new menu. Look for fresh flavors and a little hint of New England seafood. (388-5608)
One of the most meaningful events this week was the 25th anniversary celebration of JoTo’s on U.S. 41 just past the airport. JoTo’s pulled out all the stops, including traditional Japanese dancing and a sake cask-breaking ceremony that was literally a smash! While I prefer to dine on sushi at their Siesta Key venue, I appreciated the amazing number of loyal customers from Bradenton and Sarasota who helped celebrate at the teppan-yaki dinner afterwards, most of them regular diners for the past 25 years.
The Chef’s Table welcomed Christopher Covelli, who is taking over the sauté pans at the cooking demo location and MT’s next door. Quite a crowd showed up to nibble and celebrate Covelli’s new position as executive chef. Head chef instructor at Toscana Saporita Cooking School in Tuscany, Chris has been on the Sarasota scene during season for the past five years but looks like he is committed to settling into a more permanent state. He has a good charitable heart and will bring some welcome flavors and changes to the venues he now heads. Good luck Chris—“break a whisk” (as we say in the kitchen).
Chris Covelli loves to perform on the kitchen stage.