This restaurant is closed
The Discriminating Diner had recently heard that What’s Up Southwest Florida was going to hold a Networking Bash at a new venue in Ft. Myers in December, and your Discriminating Diner wanted to sample this venue before the Networking Bash. Reason being, La Grotta is a fairly new establishment here in Lee County and not a lot has been going around the restaurant circuit about the food, atmosphere, service, they are virtually unknown by a majority of residents here in Lee County. Until now……now that your Discriminating Diner has “tested the unknown waters” of La Grotta!
My dinning partner and I arrived in the afternoon, close to 2pm. We wanted to be able to see and enjoy the restaurant outside of any lunch rush. We managed to do this as it was just us and only a couple of other folks inside, so this gave us a great opportunity to really take in the restaurant! We were warmly greeted by a staff member, welcoming us to La Grotta. Taking us inside the restaurant, we were asked if sitting in the bar area at a table would be fine, and we were absolutely fine with this choice. We were seated, handed menus, told of some Chef Specials and had our drink order taken. We perused the menu and were pleasantly surprised at the prices. Very middle of the road. Cold and hot appetizers were averagely priced at around $10 for such favorites as Bruschetta, Calamari Fritti, Polpettine and Burrata. Lunch prices were equally pleasing ranging from $7 to $12 for a variety of Salads to Pizza ranging from $11/$12 for a variety of 10” and $15/$18 for the same variety in 14” size. Stromboli from $10 for both Pepperoni and Spicy Italian and Calzone from $8 with each extra ingredient at $1.25. Full lunch entrees ranged from Cappellacci at $12, Chicken Parmesan at $14 Linguine al Granchio at $20 on the higher end of the pricing spectrum. All other full lunch entrees fall inbetween the $12 and $20 price range. Not to forget the “Grill side of the Menu”, prices range from Beef Burger at $11 to Chicken Breast at $16 to NY Strip (14oz) at $20 to Lamb Chops at $25. These are just a few of the items listed on the menu for your dinning pleasure. There truly is something for everyone’s taste at La Grotta, everyone should have no problem finding something they like to eat!
After allowing us ample time to peruse the menu, our waiter showed up asking if we knew what we wanted or had any questions. We indicated that we knew exactly what we wanted! My dinning partner ordered a full lunch entrée with Orecchiete ($12) and I ordered the Spicy Italian Stromboli ($10). While waiting for our meals to arrive we had the chance to look around and get a feel for La Grotta. We both commented on the grand size of the restaurant, with a large bar/bar dining area, a large dining room in the back with a private banquet area and then a smaller dining room area towards the front. I added that the restaurant definitely has the feel of a “Northern Lodge”, not a Northern Country Club as the feel was not stuffy or pretentious at all, but rather very warm and inviting, almost as if when you walked in you get an instant feel of being at your home of the home of a good friend and to come in and make yourself comfortable as you are truly among friends! Very nice feel, a feel that definitely makes you want to go back and enjoy again and again! The décor was also that of a “Northern Lodge”, not overly stated, but done in a manner that only adds to the ambiance and makes you look all around as again it welcomes you to the exploration of the eye as it is pleasing and in no way pushes you away with being over done! Very nice touch indeed!! Anytime a restaurant is not overly stated with its decorations and enhances the ambiance, it will truly enhance your experience to the fullest! From the floors, to the walls, to the tables, chairs and stools, it is all pleasing to the eye and all gives a great feel to your experience!
Drinks were always topped off, never letting them get even close to half empty! This is important to this Discriminating Diner, as when the wait staff falls short in this area, that lets us know right away that their attention is not on the small details at all, which usually leaves the guest falling short in every other area. Not the wait staff at La Grotta, always on top of all of the details, big and small alike!!! I would like to mention that rolls and an Italian Olive Oil and Spics were delivered for our enjoyment and my dining companion commented on the good quality of olive oil used for the dipping dish. Again, a nice touch as it is the little things that mean the most!!! Having enough time to enjoy a roll and more conversation, we then were presented with our lunch meals. My dining companion was thrilled with their Orecchiete, adding the aroma of the dish was divine and the appearance was delicious to their eyes. My Stromboli looked and smelled wonderful!! I knew I was in for a treat as right away I could notice large pieces of meat resting in a sea of scrumptious melt mozzarella cheese and I could smell the nicely heated banana peppers waiting inside for me to devour! Our taste buds were truly in for a treat with this lunch!!! My dining companion commented on how the garlic was superbly done, the anchovy was done to perfection as it was not at all over powering but a perfect back ground flavor that truly made this Orecchiete perfect on every level! And judging by the amount they ate, it had to be delicious as usually they bring more than half home and this time was less than a quarter in the to go box!! I usually never need a to-go box for my main meal and this was no exception! The Italian Spicy Stromboli was perfect! Just enough dough to enjoy it and lots of filling inside to really satisfy an appetite that sincerely appreciates good Italian food, and this was good Italian food!!!! Ingredients were fresh as you could taste the freshness, appreciate the freshness with every bite, looking forward to the next! Much to our surprise, while we were enjoying our meal, the Chef stopped by our table to inquire how we were enjoying our meal. We both indicated that it was beyond delicious, our level of enjoyment was more than we had expected and were truly enjoying our lunch experience!!! The Chef then thanked us for coming in and was happy we were enjoying his creations!! Now this was a great touch!!! More restaurants in Lee County need to take notes here, as when the Chef visits you table side, on his own, to inquire about your experience. That lets us know that he truly is looking for the guests to have a wonderful experience!! We have said this many times in many reviews, it is all in the details, both small and big and La Grotta definitely understands this aspect!!! When finished with our lunches, the waited came over to box up the small amount my dining companion had left and to ask if we wanted dessert. We asked what they had and the waited gave us a rendition of fine Italian delights! My dining companion decided upon the Tiramisu with Cappuccino and I decided upon the Chocolate Cake and regular coffee. Now this was the real test as I am not a big fan of Chocolate Cake as most times it is too chocolaty and rich beyond measure making it difficult for one to eat. But I thought with a meal this good so far let me chance it and see if the Chef and make this a “touch-down” or whether it was going to end up as a “fourth-down”. The order was in and we again both commented on the delicious meal we had just had. The Manager asked us if we enjoyed lunch and we indicated that it was simply delicious and thanked him for the outstanding meal and service! He graciously said that we were welcome!
Our desserts arrived and they both looked wonderful! My Chocolate Cake did not disappoint, it was very moist with a delightful chocolate flavor but was not over bearing on the chocolate and was not too rich at all!! It is as if they made this Chocolate Cake for my desired palette as I found it to be perfect!! “Touch-Down” as far as I was concerned! My dining companion was impressed with the look of the Tiramisu and could only find one issue, the bottom layer of Lady Fingers had more liquid in them than they cared for, but the flavor was perfection! So for them it was a “Field Goal”, which to me says that start to finish the experience was a great one!!!
So if you are looking for some good Italian Food and are near the I-75 corridor, then La Grotta Italian Grill is a place to try!! When you do dine at La Grotta, definitely let them know that you heard about them from the What’s Up Southwest Florida’s Discriminating Diner!!