Sarasota's 10 Best - January 2009

Photography by Matt McCourtney By Su Byron January 1, 2009

Not by Bread Alone

What if you get a sudden, serious craving for a hot pastrami sandwich from Katz’s Delicatessen on New York City’s Lower East Side but you’re 1,200 miles away? Get thee to TooJay’s, stat. Their scrumptiously seasoned pastrami sandwich may not be strictly kosher, but it’s piled sky high on a sturdy rye and will cure those hot pastrami blues in a New York minute. Westfield Southgate, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; (941) 362-3692.

At Monterey Grill, the Reuben rules. Owners Michael and Julie Venafro offer both the traditional corned beef Reuben and some jazzed-up improvisations on the theme. Their Wild Mahi Reuben is a delicious affair of wild mahi-mahi (jerked, blackened or grilled) and house-made rémoulade sauce on marble rye bread. For added taste (and protein), order it with a side of red beans. 3800 S. Tamiami Trail, Paradise Plaza, Sarasota; (941) 366-0729.

Patrick’s Restaurant and Tavern is known for, as general manager Joe MacKay says, “real food for real people.” If reality is your thing, you’ll want to try their Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwich, a hearty party of grilled chicken, bacon, melted Monterey Jack cheese and velvety ranch dressing. “We don’t try to disguise it or fancy it up,” says MacKay. Real food—real good. 1400 Main St., Sarasota; (941) 952-1170.

What’s Sarasota’s most famous sandwich? The Main Bar Sandwich Shop’s Famous Italian, of course, a multi-layered legend of salami, ham, provolone, tomatoes, peppers, onions and a house blend of oil, garlic and spices—served on a toasted bun. Created in 1958 by the shop’s original owners, retired circus performers Antonio and Thea Borza, the sandwich is still a star in 2010.  1944 Main St., Sarasota; (941) 316-0272.

Aristotle said the circle is the perfect form. If so, the meatball may be the perfect food. Panini Press crafts its Meatball Sandwich with freshly made meatballs, fresh mozzarella and a rich tomato sauce passed down through generations of Sicilian grandmothers. The crispy ciabatta bread is grilled to a tawny gold and served up with more of that incredible sauce. Perfect! 301 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota; (941) 955-9505.

You’re up late and you’ve got a case of the munchies? No worries. Munchies 420 Café, open from 4:20 p.m. to 4:20 a.m., caters to insomniacs, night shift workers and maybe the occasional vampire. To quell your dusk-to-dawn hunger, try the Works Philly, a six-lane pile-up of a sub stuffed with steak, cheese, mushrooms, onions and peppers. 6639 Superior Ave., Sarasota; (941) 929-9893.

The grouper sandwich is the king of Florida sandwiches. If you’re looking for a reel royal treat, try the Sandbar restaurant. Their secret? They use only fresh Florida grouper. It’s either the real thing, or it’s off the menu. When the grouper is a go, get it grilled or blackened with some lemon and tartar sauce. Chew. Chill. Life is good. 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria; (941) 778-0444.

Liverwurst. You either hate it or you love it. In these parts, liverwurst lovers flock to Anna’s Deli, the home of the Fiesta, a pumped-up treat stuffed with salami, Swiss cheese, sweet onions and, yep, liverwurst, all slathered with Anna’s famous mayo-mustard sauce. Look at it this way: Liverwurst is just another way of saying pâté. 6535 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota; (941) 349-4888; 217 Avenida Madera, Sarasota; (941) 349-7790; 128 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota; (941) 330-2662.

The Turkey California has been Nellie’s Deli’s bestselling sandwich for the 17 years that Craig and Fredda Pohl have owned this venerated Sarasota delicatessen. The turkey in question is Boar’s Head, and it’s embedded in Nellie’s house-made croissants, which are as flaky and buttery as any this side of Paris. Add a slice of creamy Swiss and some sweet mustard and taste nirvana. 15 S. Beneva Road, Sarasota; (941) 924-2705.

If you want a ritzy hamburger, check out The Smokehouse Double at The Ritz-Carlton’s BayView Burger Bar, the Ritz’s new casual outdoor café overlooking Sarasota Bay. The Smokehouse is a towering structure of beef, bacon, cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce. Add a Tahitian vanilla hand-dipped shake and savor the good life. 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota; (941) 309-2008.

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