In a new home off Naples Bay that previously hosted Mereday’s Fine Dining new 1500 South restaurant quietly opened Tuesday (March 8th) by reservation only for breakfast and dinner every day. Look for the grand opening in early April. It may possibly even add brunch down the line.
Internationally known chef Art Smith, and two-time James Beard Award-winner, owns upscale restaurants in Chicago, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., and plans to open another in Disney Springs near Orlando this summer; co-developed the menu for the LYFE Kitchen fast-casual restaurant chain; operates an after-school, healthy kids cooking program charity called Common Threads; travels the world as chef ambassador for the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership; and he and his husband recently adopted four children.
To create the menu for 1500 South, Smith took into consideration that Naples attracts a diverse crowd of people from all over the world. His Southern accent and farm-fresh vegetables flavor international tastes.
Although the actual menu has yet to be released, a special tasting menu for a private event over the weekend provides a sneak peek at what is in store at 1500 South. An emphasis on Southern-inspired dishes is apparent.
Entrees included Chef Art’s famous fried chicken with buttermilk dressing, house hot sauce and rosemary biscuits; herb-roasted chicken and ricotta dumplings in white gravy and served with roasted root vegetables; grilled shrimp and octopus grits; and pan-roasted black grouper with “beans and greens” — boiled peanuts with lamb sausage and baby kale. Hoecakes — a cornmeal flatbread — were available in two varieties: a 24-hour slow-braised oxtail with caramelized onion, Gorgonzola and arugula; and tea-smoked salmon with crème fraiche, black truffle pearls and baby zucchini.
Pizzettas also featured two choices: one with lamb and fennel sausage, ricotta and pomodoro sauce; another farm-to-oven selection with roasted seasonal veggies, Parmigiana, and saba — an Italian syrupy reduction made from unfermented grape juice. Smith raves about the fresh pasta Chef de Cuisine Dagan Stocks is making at 1500 South: “He’s making the most perfectly, delicious, al dente bucatini with this delicious oxtail. It’s just wonderful,” Smith said. “Oxtails are historically a more Southern, soulful dish, and you put it next to this beautiful semolina pasta made fresh.”
The menu also featured snacks of upscale deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes, and “Three Little Pigs” — prosciutto di Parma, Benton’s country ham, and La Querica prosciutto with pickled mustard seeds, pimento cheese and butter pickles on a ciabatta. Starters included a baby greens salad with apples, candied pecans and Gorgonzola dolce; a country-style pasta e fagioli soup with heirloom beans, macaroni, smoked ham hocks and Tuscan kale; and fresh whole milk burrata with pickled heirloom beets.
Where: 1500 Fifth Ave. S., Naples
When: Open now by reservation only for breakfast and dinner daily, although hours of operation will not be set until after the April grand opening.
Information: 239-530-5105; 1500southnaples.com