Sarasota's 10 Best - July 2010
1. Ahhh, gelato. Even the word feels good on the tongue. Denser than American ice cream, with lower butterfat content and more highly concentrated flavor, gelato is a vital part of an Italian summer. In Sarasota, Jolly is famous for its galaxy of rich and silky-smooth, house-made gelato, including the ever-popular tiramisu. With 22 flavors to choose from, you’ll definitely emerge feeling jolly. 1296 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota; (941) 373-1269.
Too hot to stand over a hot stove? Ceviche Sarasota will cure that. Its bracingly tasty Ceviche a La Rusa is a blithe creation of oysters, lightly marinated in lime and lemon juices. The Russian connection? It’s served with caviar and dosed with a chilled shot of Imperial Russian vodka. Horosho! 1216 First St., Sarasota; (941) 952-1036.
Sure it’s hot, but who says you can’t have soup? Columbia Restaurant’s Gazpacho Andaluz is a perfectly cool beginning to any summer meal. This tangy and colorful mélange of ripe tomatoes, green peppers, onions, cucumbers and garlic will revitalize your palate, stir your soul, and fill you with the healthy vitamins you’ll need to beat the heat. 411 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota; (941) 388-3987.
Hot? How about cooling down with a mango lassi? What’s a lassi? It’s the South Asian version of a smoothie made with yogurt and, in this case, mangoes. At Chutney’s the lassi is chilled for two hours and served in a chilled beer mug with a straw. The perfect counterpoint to a spicy meal, this frothy and refreshing treat is also a delicious dessert. 1934 Hillview St., Sarasota; (941) 955-6969.
5. The average American consumes 48 pints of ice cream each year. Fulfill your patriotic duty at Scoop Daddy’s on St. Armands Circle by choosing from 32 flavors while enjoying the store’s collection of ’40s-’60s memorabilia. Get a double scoop of double fudge brownie on a house-made waffle cone and recall the sweet days of America’s past through photos of Elvis, Marilyn, Betty Boop and Superman. 19 N. Boulevard of Presidents, Sarasota; (941) 388-2444.
6. What would Mable Ringling sip on a humid summer afternoon? We think she’d have her chauffeur take her to Local Coffee and Tea, where she would find the Mable Rose Iced Rooibos Tea, named in her honor and sweetly flavored with rose and cherry. Caffeine-free and antioxidant-rich, rooibos teas from South Africa are thought to cure headaches, insomnia and digestive problems. Take a sip and feel like a swell from the Gilded Age. 5138 Ocean Blvd.; (941) 870-2671.
7. Whether you’re a beer buff, ale addict, lager lover or hophead of any kind, you’ll find that World of Beer lives up to its name. With a selection of 500 ice-cold brews, it’s a Homer Simpson version of the United Nations. Travel the globe with frosted mugs of Grimbergen Dubbel from Belgium, Magic Hat No.9 from Vermont or Kalnapilis from Lithuania. Bon voyage! 8217 Tourist Center Drive, Bradenton/Sarasota; (941) 306-5868.
8. Make this a sangria summer at, where else, Sangria. Refresh yourself and your sipping companions with an icy pitcher of this fragrant wine cocktail made with fresh fruits (peaches, mango, pineapple, orange and white cranberries) and white, red or rose wine. It’s sweet, potent and a surefire cure for the summertime blues. 1532 Main St., Sarasota; (941) 955-8272.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold. We think that honor should go to the classic French (although some say the recipe originated at NYC’s Ritz-Carlton in 1917) take on cold potato and leek soup—vichyssoise. In our humble opinion, Harry’s Continental Kitchens makes the best vichyssoise this side of Vichy. The luxuriously creamy concoction embraces tongue and palate with a chilled greeting that melts away the heat of any summer day. 525 Saint Judes Drive, Longboat Key; (941) 383-0777.
10. Celebrate the setting of that fiery ball in the sky with a Green Flash Shooter at the Sun House Restaurant overlooking Bradenton Beach. Although the ingredients are a closely guarded secret, you may detect a hint of rum, melon liqueur and crème de banana. Raise your glass, join in with diners and staff in a rousing rendition of You Are My Sunshine and give thanks that the sun is going far away for a few hours. 111 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach; (941) 782-1122.