Even though Marco Porto and his staff had run a fully operational and bustling restaurant for five years at The Esplanade on Marco, they opted for a traditional soft opening when they changed the name from Tara’s to CHOP239.
“We basically listened to the people,” said Porto this week. “We added to the menu. We’ve kept our steaks, but also brought in a lot of fish. When people come down here they want fish, but it has to be local fish, which is why we’re doing snapper and grouper, for example. “The concept,” he said, “is to offer one menu with small plates within that main menu, along with our wine list, handcrafted beers and martinis.”
Porto said another initiative has been to offer 64 wines chosen from estates around the world by the glass, with prices ranging from about $9 to $19.
Chef Gary Minteer, a Johnson & Wales Culinary School graduate who’s worked at assorted Naples and Marco restaurants since 1981, was happy to showcase a couple of additions to the menu. They included smoked salmon prepared with caper berries, some pesto, red onion and flatbread; marinated lamb chops with a shepherd’s pie torta and rosemary sprig garnish, and macadamia nut-encrusted snapper with mango salsa and plantain.
Porto said the small plate idea is to satisfy people who’re not too hungry, but feel like some classy cuisine washed down with a couple of glasses of fine wine. Those plates run around $12 to $19, while the big steak dishes cost between $29 and $47.
Written by: Quentin Roux Marco Island Sun Times
Photo Credit: A new dish is smoked salmon prepared with caper berries, some pesto, red onion and flatbread. / Quentin Roux/marcoislandflorida.com