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May 21, 2018

Executive Lifestyles - Dining & Spirits

Northern Exposure

The D'Amico clan makes a move into Naples.

Robert W. Tolf | 9/1/2005
For many years there's been a constant influx of snowbird restaurateurs from New York, Chicago, even Boston, fleeing to the fertile and friendly shores of Florida to seek further fame and fortune. Latest to join the parade is an established team from the frozen flatlands of Minnesota, Richard and Larry D'Amico. If Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Companion show can draw standing room only audiences in Boca Raton's Mizner Park, then why couldn't a Minnesota restaurant draw standing room only customers on the other side of the state in another high-profile enclave like Naples.EUROPEAN STYLING: The Café and Bar Lurcat in Naples features giant chandeliers, Venetian plaster and woven saddle leather chairs from Florence.

The D'Amicos originally ventured from their family's successful Italian restaurant in Cleveland a couple decades ago, settling down in Minneapolis, where they opened a string of restaurants that prospered to the point where income exceeds $50 million annually. First was the informal D'Amico Cucina and then Campiello and Café and Bar Lurcat, which are the names selected for the partnership's missions to the provinces, all the way to Naples.

Campiello Ristorante & Bar
1177 Third St. S.

Campiello Ristorante & Bar was an instant hit in the Olde Naples historic Mercantile Building, converted to resemble something memorable in the old country with Florentine murals, polished Venetian plaster, imported leather chairs and Murano light fixtures -- an inviting setting for all the Tuscan country cooking in the display kitchen with wood-burning oven and rotisserie grilling. Enjoy spit-roasted chicken; pork loin chop with crimini mushroom risotto; caramelized Brussel sprouts and potato puree; and oven-steamed salmon with Sicilian pesto, couscous and grilled veggies. The farinaceous fare is as good as it gets, and you can snack on superior pizzas or get serious with all kinds of Tuscan treatments of meats and fresh fish while sipping special wines any day noon and night.

Café and Bar Lurcat
494 5th Ave. S.

Obviously believing that one good restaurant deserved another from the north, the D'Amico partnership opened the Café and Bar Lurcat, kind of a clone of the Minneapolis stunner with a menu that is proud of its American cuisine, in both the small plates bar and the more ambitious cafe with miso-marinated sea bass, gingered tuna tartare and good old pot roast with a rich red wine sauce.

At Bar Lurcat, the new American cuisine features crab cakes and brie-fig-ham-filled buckwheat crepes, broiled scallops with bacon and horseradish, pork tenderloin with fig compote and Gorgonzola-zapped onions, served noon and night seven days a week and at moderate prices -- appetizers $2.75 to $13 and entrees $6.50 to $25.

The real attention-grabbers are the burgers and the doughnuts. Yes! Burgers and doughnuts. But you can add french fries and cheese puffs as well, which have quality Vermont cheddar to thank for their marvelous flavor. The fries are indebted to the chef's orders to keep them thin and very, very crisp, and the genius who decided to add sauce béarnaise. The doughnuts are mini marvels lightly dusted with cinnamon. Impossible to restrain yourself to just a few bites, but that could be said about the whole menu.

Wine Rack

The Richard and Larry D'Amico partnership has assembled a fabulous wine list, spanning the world, with 230 bottles, including 22 half bottles, some 40 available not only by the glass, but uniquely, poured in two-, six- or 10-ounce glasses. The list is as straightforward as possible with category breakdowns such as Mediterranean-style Whites, Latin Reds, Rhone-style Reds, Zinfandel and Other Bigs. The Captain's List is limited to a very select 24, including nine California Cabs ranging from $205 for 1999 Montebello to $600 for a 2002 Abacus. There's great choice in all categories, making the Café and Bar Lurcat one of the best wine schools in the state.

Tags: Dining & Travel, Southwest

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