Alas, we come to the end of a long, but very filling journey…

Darwin's on 4th - Sarasota Restaurants

This is it. At least for my Savor Sarasota journey. Please feel free to continue on your own. I think they call that independent study.

I can’t really think of a better way to bring this home than with Darwin’s on 4th. Chef Darwin Santa Maria has had a big hand in helping put Sarasota on the culinary map. And, now he’s looking to stand the craft beer world on it’s head too. I’m a fan of that.

So, I’m probably not going to tell you anything here that hasn’t already been shouted a thousand and one times. If you’ve ever read, Sarasota Magazine, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, SRQ Magazine or The Observer then you’ve seen the accolades in print. I won’t pile on.

Yes, we have a lot of Peruvian restaurants in Sarasota. Not sure why, but, I’m not complaining. And, yes, Darwin’s is a damn good one. He could probably open in any BIG city in America and be super successful. Selfishly, I’m happy he decided to open here. Can Darwin brew beer? Yes, again. You see a trend developing, right?

Given all of that, you would just expect that Darwin would put together a knockout Savor Sarasota menu. And, of course, he has.

Just like yesterday’s trip to Sardinia, Darwin’s is a dinner only affair. That’s not a problem with me. I love dinner. OK, here we go last one (for this year).


Dinner First Course (Choice of one)

“Lima” Chopped Salad
Lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, choclo, black beans, Queso fresco, orange chipotle vinaigrette.

“Maya” Shrimp Ceviche
Red bell peppers, avocado, cancha, plantain chips, orange juice.

Mango Gazpacho

Dinner Second Course (Choice of one)

Short Ribs
Malbec braised short ribs, truffle chive risotto, crispy yucca.

BBQ Guava Glazed Salmon
Aji Amarillo potato puree, tangerine beer braised collard greens.

Arroz Con Pato
Grilled duck breast, green pea and beer risotto, criolla roasted red pepper.

Dinner Third Course (Choice of one)

“Tumbao” Pot of Mousse
Bitter sweet dark and white chocolate mousses, chocolate “Pot”, cappuccino ice cream, mango and raspberry sauces.

Tres Leches
Extra moist cake soaked in three milks, strawberries and meringue, served with strawberry gelato.

Banana Flan
Banana Chutney, Banana ice cream, caramelized bananas, Brazilian nut praline.

I thought this would be easy. But, like all of the other menus we’ve featured in the past two weeks, choices are hard. I sound like I’m whining a bit. I should stop now. Alright, I’m ready. Dinner here I come!

First course, “Maya” Shrimp Ceviche. No brainer. Darwin’s has some of the best ceviche in town. Too tough to pass on. Second, Short Ribs. Who’s says NO to Darwin’s Malbec braised short ribs? Hands please.. Third, or as I like to say, home stretch, Tres Leches.

Now, here’s a little bonus for all of you. Since they brew great beer at Darwin’s, I’m going to recommend my own beer paring. Oh, forget that, they’ve already taken the time to pair them perfectly! Here you go. First course, Sirwisa, “Authentic German Pilsner Beer brewed with the best combination of noble hops from Bavaria“. Second course, Ayawasca, “Belgian Strong Ale – Ruby color, caramel, malty, Belgian yeast“. And, third (my pairing), Marron Ale, “Medium body, bready and toasty, biscuit, toffee“.

YES, now I’m satisfied! It’s been fun the past two weeks discovering some delicious Savor Sarasota food finds. You’ll be on your own through the weekend. I’m sure you’ll do just fine.

NOTE – We’re hoping to post a list of the Savor Sarasota restaurants that are continuing their prix fixe specials into the summer. Please check back for a list of those places.

ANOTHER NOTE – Great job Visit Sarasota on this years Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week. It takes a lot of hard work to pull off a culinary event that’s so great. Can’t wait until 2016. Cheers! to a job well done!

Download Our Printable Savor Sarasota Checklist

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If you look, you can usually find delicious things hidden in the strangest places.

Sardinia - Sarasota Restaurants


Just drive down Tamiami Trail and try and count them. On second thought you had better keep your eyes on the trail. What you’re counting (I mean, not counting) is the number of nondescript, unremarkable strip malls that populate “the trail”.

These retail centers house any number of businesses. And, it seems most of these tenants are pretty much interchangeable between addresses. Usually, each of these places houses at least one restaurant/coffee shop/cafe. And, there are a ton of culinary gems hidden in the midst of the fishing supply stores, nail salons and souvenir shops.

Just off Tamiami Trail. wedged in between Hollywood Boulevard and Southwood Street is one of these “strips”. As luck would have it, it house one of these previously mentioned culinary gems. Sardinia. As you can easily see from the logo above they boast “Traditional Italian Cuisine“. And, in a refreshing change of pace, that is EXACTLY what they deliver.

Sardinia’s Chef Dino Carta knows his traditional Italian cuisine. He’s taken a spin in some of Sarsaota’s best Italian restaurant kitchens. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that knows his work that Sardinia delivers. And in a BIG way.

Sardinia is a dinner only place. So, our work today is a half of our usual load. But, we must get to it. Let’s have a look at what Chef Carta has cooked up for Savor Sarasota.


Dinner First Course (Choice of one)

Octopus Carpaccio
With arugula and homemade bottarga

Brick Oven-Roasted Tomato
Stuffed with eggplant and mozzarella

Sardinian Pecorino Cheese
Brick oven-roasted over homemade carassau bread

Dinner Second Course (Choice of one)

Homemade Tagliolini
With salmon, zucchini and homemade bottarga

Homemade Veal Ravioli
With butter, sage and walnuts

Homemade Potato Gnocchi

Dinner Third Course (Choice of one)

Mixed Seafood Ciopino
In tomato-based lobster reduction

Mediterranean Seabass Fillet
With Sardinian fregola salad

Brick Oven-Roasted Sausage
With roasted fingerling potatoes and eggplant

First off, I will make one observation. Not being that much of a dessert person I will gladly take a third course consisting of more dinner food then a dessert any day. Now try not to wrinkle your nose at that. I like a fresh baked pie or a dish of homemade ice cream as much as the next person. But, If I had a choice, it would be cheese plate for me every time.

With that said, let’s eat! First course, gotta have the Octopus Carpaccio. Not only do I really like that dish. But, opportunities are not around every corner to enjoy it. Second, Homemade Veal Ravioli, the butter, sage, walnut combo is pretty killer. And, now for my “dessert”, third course. Mixed Seafood Ciopino. That was a tough call. I had to really watch that I didn’t blurt out, Brick Oven-Roasted Sausage without even knowing it. (That does happen sometimes).

So, what have we learned from our Savor Sarasota menu today? I’ll recap for you. When driving Tamiami Trail it would pay delicious dividends to have a hidden gem spotter assisting you on your hunt for great food. (remember you can’t do this yourself, you need an accomplice). Good luck and keep your eyes on the important stuff.

5770 S. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, Florida 34231

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Present day collides with childhood memories in a culinary explosion!

Apollonia Grill - Sarasota Restaurants

Greek food is fun! There I said it. And, it is. It’s food that a lot of times is celebrated with music, dancing and lots of laughing. It’s just fun, trust me.

I’ve got a soft spot when it comes to Greek cuisine. I grew up in Chicago and have brilliant memories of going to Greektown (The Parthenon in particular) with my parents. Being wide eyed and amazed at the white shirted waiters, their arms lined with smoking hot plates of Saganaki ready to ignite at any moment. The occasion always accompanied by a mighty, OPA!! The flames lapping at the waiters neck soon to be extinguished by an ever present lemon half. Yes, the sounds, the smells and of course the flavors!

When you’re young there is something uniquely exciting about the Saganaki ritual. The moment your server arrives at your table carrying that smoking platter, everyone stops what they’re doing to watch. The seemingly imminent danger of flames from the cheese reaching almost to the low hanging ceiling. Would this be the night that the whole place burns down?? (As an adult I wonder, “how do these places get insurance”). Thankfully, a kid NEVER thinks like that! Then, in an instant the fire is out. Expertly doused by the juice of exactly one half of a lemon. Even the largest Saganaki infernos have never taken two. Amazing…

OK, I’m back. What a fantastic walk down memory lane. Glad you could join me. But, we’re in the here and now of Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week let’s not forget that. We have a job to do!

Apollonia Grill. They swung open their doors in 2013. I wonder if an OPA! accompanied that? They’ve been packing them in at their University Town Center (Not UTC. But, located directly across University Parkway) restaurant ever since. I thought since we haven’t featured a place from the University Parkway Corridor that we should do it right now.

Without any further delay let’s take a look at what the Apollonia Grill is showcasing for Savor Sarasota.

Lunch First Course (Choice of one)

Soup of the Day

Tomato Salad “Horiatiki”

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Lunch Second Course (Choice of one)

Spinach Artichoke Chicken
Grilled Chicken Breast, goat cheese, topped with sautéed artichokes, tomatoes and spinach in white wine lemon sauce with rice pilaf.

Gyro Platter
Rotisserie spiced lamb, thinly sliced, served with roasted potatoes, vegetables, Tzadziki and pita.

Salmon Kale Orzo Salad
Grilled salmon filet, fresh kale, orzo, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, onions and feta in lemon dill vinaigrette.

Lunch Third Course (Choice of one)


Rice Pudding & Roasted Pear


Dinner First Course (Choice of one)

Saganaki, OPA!

Grilled Octopus

Lamb Meatballs

Tomato Cucumber Salad “Horiatiki”

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Soup of the Day

Dinner Second Course (Choice of one)

Rack of Lamb
Pistachio & herb crusted, vegetable couscous, roasted Campari tomatoes.

Filet Kebob
Spiced char grilled filet medallions, roasted potatoes, Greek yogurt, lemon oregano dressing.

Grape Leaves Salmon
Salmon filet wrapped with vine leaves leek-mushroom orzo and lemon herb vinaigrette.

Dinner Third Course (Choice of one)

With pistachio gelato

Rice Pudding with Roasted Pear

Looking over my selections I get the sense that choosing is going to be tough. I’ve been here before and know just how delicious some of these dishes are. But, I must be brave. A choice must be made. Here we go!

Lunch, I’ve got to have the Horiatiki Salad. This is one of my favorite salads of any cuisine style. Can’t pass on that. Second course, Gyro Platter. Dessert, I’ll have to pass it’s lunch and I just had a Gyro Platter, remember… Dinner, Saganaki (of course), followed by the Rack of Lamb and the Galactobureko to finish off an incredible meal.

Here’s an idea. If they have an ice cold Mythos Beer you should get one. It would go great with the flaming cheese!

We’ve only got a few days left of Savor Sarasota. I would strongly suggest you get it in gear and cross Apollonia off of your checklist. You can thank me later.

8235 Cooper Creek Boulevard
University Park, FL 34201

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