While we might think of flatbreads as a fairly new food trend that started in the past decade as a way to enjoy lighter toppings and less gluten and thick crusts, flatbreads have been a peasant food for centuries. In parts of Italy and most countries in the Middle East, flatbreads have been a part of everyday food stalls and street carts since forever. Here are four of Sarasota's best:
5070 Palmer Plaza Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 260-4100, piadamania.com
For the most authentic and one of the best I have tried so far, visit Piada Mania, a true Italian flatbread eatery that uses a 400-year-old family recipe. Their flatbreads are either folded over or serve as the base for a light buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto “pizza." The Piada Vegetariana “sandwich” uses flatbread grilled with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms and balsamic vinegar. The Bellaria, meanwhile, includes melted mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, Italian cooked ham and sautéed mushrooms.
1289 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, (941) 552-9688, tableseide.com/lemon-tree-kitchen
Lemon Tree Kitchen (formerly Louies Modern) had me on day one. The smoked salmon flatbread is divine, with red onion, cream cheese and capers, fresh tomatoes and arugula. The fresh lemon vinaigrette makes it light and refreshing.
170 University Town Center Drive, Sarasota, (941) 702-9652, seasons52.com
One of the most popular places for seasonal flatbreads, Seasons 52 offers a traditional four-mushroom and goat cheese flatbread with truffle oil and scallions. It's enough to share, but, trust me, you probably won’t.
2001 Siesta Drive, Sarasota, (941) 358-9463, flemingssteakhouse.com
Of course, steak is the feature here: filet mignon, sliced, with a tangy Danish blue cheese and balsamic reduction. Rich enough to share with a bold tannin-forward red wine. The flatbread edges are slightly crisp and the base is not too heavy against the richness of the beef.
Grilling flatbreads at home? Here is a delicious recipe from my Reflections & Recipes cookbook:
Grilled steak and herb cream cheese flatbread with arugula and blistered tomatoes
2 flatbreads (I use the Stonewall Kitchen brand)
4 cups herb cream cheese
2 cups organic yellow and red grape tomatoes, cut lengthwise
Zest of 2 lemons
4 cups baby arugula
3 pounds sirloin steak or leftover steak.
2 fennel bulbs, sliced very thin
Lemon vinaigrette (may be made ahead of time; refrigerate and shake before using):
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk together the ingredients or use an emersion blender.
- For best results, let the steak rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grill the steak to rare or medium rare. Let rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spread sliced tomatoes on a sheet pan and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast for 6-8 minutes until they “blister." Remove from oven and set aside.
- Heat flatbreads in oven until slightly crusty but do not over-bake.
- Spread garlic cream cheese over bread. Slice steak and place over herb cream cheese mix. Scatter blistered tomatoes.
- In a separate bowl, toss fennel with arugula and lemon dressing. Toss over flatbread pizza and add lemon zest. Cut into wedges and serve.
- Use blue cheese instead of garlic cream cheese.
- Add smoked salmon bits instead of steak.
- Substitute grilled chicken, artichoke hearts and olive tapenade instead of steak.