Rosati’s Pizza in Estero, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Rosati’s Pizza in Estero, Florida! You learn a lot about a business by talking to the owners. Perhaps that is why I sometimes visit a restaurant in the off hours of the day. You are more apt to find the owners working face-to-face with customers. Rosati’s Pizza is owned and operated by a family who not only strives for perfection, but also cares about the people who walk through their door. When they expanded their business in Estero for dine-in service, Covid hit with a vengeance and caused them to shift to delivery and carry-out service only. That takes a chunk out of overhead, which translates to selling a boatload of pizza. Yet, they endured. And thrived because they do things the old-fashioned way: like sourcing local ingredients, fresh mozzarella, and homemade crusts. Their story goes all the way back to the first pizzerias in Chicago; Italian roots to the core. So proud, they live by the motto, “We don’t cut corners, just slices of pizza.” Dine in, smell the aromas, chat with the staff, and over-order so you have extra servings for leftovers. Don’t forget to add a jar of the Hot Giardiniera. It is ah-mazing!

Mr. Big Fish Seafood Grill in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Mr. Big Fish Seafood Grill in Naples, Florida! When a city thrives bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, seafood restaurants are a natural choice. One glance at the menu brings assurance that the fish is either freshly caught by local fishermen or flown-in daily. The casual vibe invites patrons to gather around the bar, choose a table for two, or dine alfresco surrounded by activity. Either way, the wait staff is attentive. Specialty cocktails, like the Ultimate Bloody Mary, include fresh garnishes for snacking. Tasty. As for the menu selections…raw, seared, grilled, or smoked, each entrée is prepared to perfection. The Chilean Sea Bass is critically acclaimed and reasonably priced. You should try it. And before you leave, snap a photo of the big fish in the waiting area. It’s postcard-worthy.

Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai! If you’ve ever wondered how hula dancers keep that slim waistline, perhaps it has something to do with healthy choices. Hukilau Lanai offers farm-to-table fruit and local vegetables as well as fresh fish and seafood. They support local farmers and fishermen who are mindful of the environmental impact. A staff of gourmet chefs continue to be inventive in serving food that is as appealing on the plate as it is on the palate. Garnishes add beauty in addition to aromatic elements. It all adds up to outstanding flavor and top-notch quality.

The Green Room in Key West, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: The Green Room in Key West, Florida! When the locals tip you off with their favorite watering holes, you kinda pay attention. The Green Room takes pride in serving up thirst-quenching organic drinks in eco-friendly surroundings. Not only that, they believe is supporting the community as much as possible. It is an island, after all. Environmental sustainability is critical to survival. The bartenders are as laid back as a Florida sunset and the live music is cultural, no matter the performer. Stop by for a few. You’ll walk away feeling like family.

Kountry Kitchen in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Kountry Kitchen in Kapaa, Kauai. Tradition is served with local ingredients. It’s that simple. Here’s a place where breakfast is known as the most important meal of the day. Spam fried rice is a hit among locals. Carrot slivers and green onion snips work well with crispy fried Spam, cut-up into bite size pieces. Not your style? No worries. Omelettes, Loco Moco, Benedicts, or Pancakes and Waffles make a delicious substitute. There’s something for everyone. Aloha!

Dining Outside the Home: Garden Island Barbecue & Chinese Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Garden Island Barbecue & Chinese Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai. A true sign of a popular eatery is a full parking lot before you ever set foot inside the door. In the short time it takes to park the car, pay attention to the steady flow of customers clutching brown bag take-out orders. Proof positive something pretty tasty is going on inside. The wait staff is practiced in efficient service, yet patient enough to answer questions and offer suggestions. Another plus. Casual dining means a table for two as well as larger tables for friends and family-size groups. I’m not gonna lie. An extensive menu offers choices beyond your wildest expectations. Szechuan for a kick of spice, a healthy dose of vegetables, tasty barbecue combos, sizzling beef, mixed seafood platters, and more. Ample servings and portion sizes make sharing delightful. After all, who doesn’t enjoy nibbling a bite or two of something different? Get off the beaten path and mingle with locals.