From Florida, a local food critic reveals how Naples' sidewalk cafes multiply and conquer.
The reggae notes hang in the air like voodoo spells outside the open patio and doorways. They reel you in
as if you were the gigantic sculptured fish that hangs over the window that opens onto the kitchen for viewing. Everything's
open at Yabba Island Grill on Naples fashionable Fifth Avenue South. The bar is open to the dining room, pouring island fever
in the form of fruity, frothy concoctions and 40 brands of island rum. Open, young servers and hosts sashay around wearing
good looks, tropical sarongs, and bright polo shirts. There's color, there's movement, there's much ado.
Yabba is only one of a string of lively, open sidewalk restaurants that flowered in the wake of Old Naples
recent revitalization. Much like its Italian namesake, the southern Gulf Coast Florida town has developed an air of refinement
and vitality, where dining out is the day's highlight and where to dine the day's toughest decision.
"Naples has the second highest dining out per capita in the country, second to Long Island," said Richard
DAmico, explaining why he expanded his Minneapolis-based dynasty of Italian eateries to Naples four years ago. Like many of
the more successful in the recent influx, he chose to open his Campiello Ristorante to the near-constant sunshine, riotous
blooms, bustle, and street art of downtown Naples.
Besides Caribbean and Italian, diners who stroll the music-filled streets "shopping" for dinner choose from
an Irish pub, an Asian steakhouse, bistros, Argentine, French, New World cutting-edge, seafood, Floribbean, and more. The
perfect symbiotic relationship, Naples and its sidewalk cafes feed off one another. It's what social-butterfly Neapolitans
have always craved and with downtown's metamorphose, they've evolved into a archetypal café society. This article would visit
a dozen or so of Naples sidewalk eateries and examine the phenomenon that has redefined the town's personality.