Octopus is having a moment, and (mostly) Mediterranean eateries are adding the tentacled sea creatures to their appetizer options. Here are six top picks.
Apollonia Grill A whole tentacle, chargrilled to superb tenderness, is embellished with a tart-sweet lemon vinaigrette ($13.99). It’s a hearty dinner appetizer that could easily be a luncheon dish. 8235 Cooper Creek Blvd., Sarasota, (941) 359-4816.
Blu Kouzina Called “Xtapodi Shara,” this rosy, grilled tentacle is generously dressed with fresh lemon, seasonings and Greek extra virgin olive oil. The excellent table bread is perfect for sopping. $22. 25 N. Boulevard of Presidents, St. Armands Circle, (941) 388-2619.
Cassariano This lovely antipasti seafood salad joins octopus with shrimp, calamari and mussels, all tossed with fresh greens in a bright Mediterranean dressing ($15.50). 313 W. Venice Ave., Venice, (941) 485-0507.
Fins Gulf of Mexico octopus tentacles are braised over wood from the cork tree. Served with spinach, shallots and hibiscus-infused apples with a lemon-caper aioli ($15). 1600 Harbor Drive S., Venice, (941) 999-3467.
La Scarpetta For this warm octopus salad ($16.90), the tentacle is boiled, sliced into fat rounds and arranged atop arugula and other veggies, with a light, bright vinaigrette. It’s the truest taste of octopus around—neutral with good texture. 3809 S. Tuttle, Sarasota, (941) 927-8716.
Pino's Imported from Spain and Portugal, the large, succulent tentacles are steamed, marinated and then grilled, creating a light crust outside the super-tender meat—totally Mediterranean. Served with dressed arugula. ($15). 3800 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 366-1440.