Here Comes Libby's Cafe + Bar

By staff September 8, 2008

A new restaurant is scheduled to open at the former site of Fred’s in Sarasota’s Southside Village.


By Judi Gallagher


The South loves someone sassy, and I sense Sarasota is going to love the new restaurant that is coming to the former site of Fred’s in Southside Village. Libby’s Café + Bar, Sarasota’s new “Florida cuisine” restaurant, is due to open in October, just across from my favorite gourmet store, Morton’s Market.


Chef Francis “Fran” Casciato has joined Steve Seidensticker’s team as executive chef. Seidensticker, formerly of the famed Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande, and his two sons, who are also involved in the restaurant, seem to be making all the right choices. Chef Casciato most recently perfected his craft at DeVito, South Beach. He led the hugely successful culinary operation of DeVito, which became a favorite of Hollywood celebrities and VIPS. He seems more than up for the challenge of restoring the once favorite Southside dining spot. I think you will find the bistro-style menu quite tempting.


This foodie was thrilled to get a preview of that menu and the restaurant’s décor. Look for toned-down colors and carpeting, a welcome addition to quiet the restaurant and put the focus as it should be, on the cuisine and yes, Libby’s biscuits. Grandma Libby, by the way, has inspired more than a warm oven full of goodness. Her son Steve and his two sons say they are passionately “Grandma influenced.” Steve likes to develop a “culture of hospitality,” which he did at the Gasparilla Inn for more than 20 years. He began as a bartender and waiter there and rose to general manager and eventually vice president and part owner. He definitely has the capability of infusing the entire restaurant with the  consistency and quality that Southside villagers have been waiting for. The work ethic and team atmosphere are already noticeable, and the paint job isn’t even dry.


Look for a very ambitious menu—here’s a sampling.


Classics: Beef tartare with green peppercorn-Dijon aioli

Contemporary: Asian pear salad with sherried fig vinaigrette

Small Plate: Barolo braised petite boneless Wagyu shortrib

Authentic: Libby’s Three-Cheese Biscuits.


I can hardly wait until October!


Libby’s Café + Bar

1917 S. Osprey

Sarasota, FL 34239

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