SIDE DISH with a VIEW
My friend Kirk asked me if I was up for getting a bite to eat on St. Armands Circle and after watch the sunset on Lido Key Beach. I thought why not have the best of both worlds, eat on the beach while watching the sunset; a picnic – after all there is no place you can go with a better view!
A picnic to me consists of several side dishes, so without hesitation I head to Mozzarella Fella, my go-to place for fresh homemade Italian food I can carry out or dine in. It’s as New York as you can get on Main Street in downtown Sarasota with prepared food in the deli case and even an area to buy Italian products. I’m always greeted with a smile by owners Michael and Victoria Calore.
I tell Michael I am going on a picnic with my friend who has never been to their spot and who happens to be mostly Italian. Michael tells me, “My wife and I have not been on a picnic in a long time,” so I suggest to him to pack me a picnic as if he were going with his wife.
Without hesitation he heads to the kitchen to prepare skewers of tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella over a bed of fresh greens and balsamic vinegar. He then makes a prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and basil sandwich on fresh Italian bread drizzled with balsamic vinegar and cuts it into four pieces that you can easily pick up and eat. From the cold deli case he scoops out fresh pasta salad with kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, artichokes and roasted garlic followed by a cold antipasto.
Victoria packs three of their homemade cannolis and tells me, “No Italian picnic is complete without these.” Just when I thought we were done, one of the experts from behind the counters heads over to the drink case and removes two Manhattan Special Soda’s one Orange Soda and the other Espresso Coffee Soda and tells me these will go perfect with our cannolis, he also throws in a sparkling Pellegrino. With Kirk bringing the wine, I think we are well stocked for our picnic.
Now I could have gone straight from Mozzarella Fella to Lido Key Beach since they included everything from straws, plates and cutlery , but it was a bit early which gave me time to bring out the Martha Stewart side of me. Since having a picnic is my absolute favorite thing to do, I wanted it to be perfect. I gathered a blanket, tablecloth, candles, two pillows, flowers, baskets for the food, matching napkins with orange cutlery wrapped in a pretty purple bow and glass jars filled with salt and pepper and spices.
Kirk picked me up at 7:15pm and we headed to North Lido Key Beach. We got a parking spot right by the boardwalk and headed to my favorite area by the dunes. It’s a bit of a walk, but the sand between our toes and the view call for no complaints. We find the perfect spot away from foot traffic with large sand dunes behind us and a few wispy ones in front with a view of the Gulf of Mexico you could not get in any restaurant.
By 7:40pm we have ourselves one hell of a setup with plenty of time to enjoy our Italian picnic while watching the unbelievable sunset right before our eyes. Kirk even got to use the wine case his daughter gave him which included two small glasses that were the perfect fit for our decor.
As for impressing this Italian (Kirk, not me – I am far from Italian and already impressed), Mozzarella Fella you have yourself a new fan. From the generous portion of prosciutto on our sandwich to the caprese skewers the compliments, oohs and aahs were flowing. The only suggestion Kirk has – put more hard cheese in the cold antipasto; little does Kirk know…. before the picnic, I tested the antipasto and plucked out most of the hard cheese – I am the culprit to blame not the Mozzarella Fella.
Whether you’re going on a date, a family outing, have an hour for lunch or a celebrating a holiday like the fourth of July – a picnic is the perfect inexpensive way to spend those special moments, as Kirk said to me, “It’s something I’ll always remember.” Our picnic was flawless, the food, company, setting to even a dip in the Gulf under the moonlight. Stop in to Mozzarella Fella and let them prepare your picnic Italian style – tell them Dayle sent you and receive a special gift.
Please do everyone a favor, always be sure to leave the beach the way you found it. Our beaches are precious help keep them clean.
Mozzarella Fella 1668 Main Street, Sarasota, FL 34236, 941.366.7600. You can also find them on Facebook