This casual cafe is stocked with impressive dishes that are all prepared fresh daily. The pizza is so good at Café Epicure that some loyal locals swear they would request it as a last meal if they were on death row. The salads, sandwiches and wraps are also extremely popular, as is the olive tapenade. Sit outside, and enjoy Café Epicure’s happy hour as you watch shoppers stroll by on Palm Avenue.
Bar Tab: Café Epicure stays classic
The Main Street and Palm Avenue corner may have some fresh faces, but the veteran Café Epicure continues to be as one of downtown’s best bars for cool martinis and hot stilettos.
All summer long, the 13-year-old hotspot with its adjacent 4-year-old martini bar is hosting “Le Donne Della Notte” (ladies’ night) from 6 p.m. until closing, with cocktails, wines and beers at half price. The same deal applies to the daily happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m., and this two-hour block also features complimentary small plates at the bar. When a $10 gourmet martini becomes $5, with free food to boot, flocking is a no-brainer.
“We have always focused on the quality of the food, the drinks and the experience here,” says owner Giovanni Migliorini, who hails from Genoa, Italy. “Food is such a big part of our culture, and people who have been to Italy say it’s just like what they experienced there.”
That experience includes slow sips, rich bites and free-flowing conversation, and Migliorini’s team keeps the ambiance conducive to this European ritual. The mixologists are as stunning as the libations they concoct, such as the grapefruit, clementine, cucumber, apple, watermelon, raspberry, cucumber and strawberry-basil martinis.
Favorite long drink cocktails are the Grapes Fall with lychee liqueur, the Spicy Bangcok with mango-cinnamon infused rum, and the Frisky Bison with fresh lemon and mint. Menu-wise, the prosciutto with melon, beef carpaccio with arugula and Parmesan cheese, and white four-cheese pizzas lead up to gelato and cannoli desserts.
On Mondays and Tuesdays at all hours, 100 wines priced at $100 or less are 50 percent off, including selections from Tuscany, Sicily, Abruzzi, Lombardy, Veneto, Trentino, Puglia, Lazio, Campania, Piedmont, Sardinia, the United States and Chile. Later this month, Epicure will roll out a new charcuterie bar with hanging meats and imported cheeses, available for perusing in the restaurant room.
Sometimes, in the middle of the new bar whirlwind, you need to revisit the pioneers. You can taste the longevity in the long drink cocktails.
After over a decade, Café Epicure still lives up to its name…..
Located on the corner of Palm Avenue and Main Street, the new “restaurant row” for downtown Sarasota, Café Epicure has been a steady fixture in the local streetscape for over 12 years. Started as a simple Italian trattoria, Café Epicure has evolved into a “go-to” casual dining destination. In a significant remodel and expansion a number of years ago, Café Epicure added a stylish martini bar, more upscale dining space and comfortable, chic, South Beach-esque outdoor furniture. After this transformation, Café Epicure became the place to be seen in downtown Sarasota, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
It’s true that success in any business always invites competition, but this is perhaps most true in the restaurant business. Café Epicure was not immune to this reality. With new restaurants trying to improve upon the model, Café Epicure’s unique ambience was quickly challenged. A number of people commented on the various alternatives, stating, “Café Epicure needs to step up its game.”
So, we were delighted recently to check out Café Epicure for ourselves and share our thoughts on the dining experience with you. For our meals we had the following:
Jessica Pizza: Shrimp, mozzarella, fresh tomato and garlic. $14.95
A very thin-crusted pizza, crispy and baked to perfection, showing a bit of bite in each chew. Big chunks of shrimp and pieces of tomato; sweet with a hint of garlic. Delicious.
Carciofo Ripieno: Artichoke stuffed with smoked mozzarella and salami. $8.95
A very flavorful, earthy, rich and filling dish; can easily be shared with others.
Tartare Di Filetto: Beef tartare. $14.95
A beautiful presentation of rich macerated beef, tender and lightly spiced, topped by a raw egg which added a creamy texture.
Duo Di Pasta: Pasta combo: ½ rigatoni with eggplant and ricotta, ½ fusilli with peas, ham and cream. $16.95
A wonderful presentation. The pasta was cooked al dente. Sweet, salty, earthy and a great accompaniment to all the food. Loved the dish in which it was served.
Anatra Al Forno: Half of roasted duck with herb sauce. $26.95
A very simple yet elegant presentation, deliciously cooked … super moist on the inside, crisp on the outside. Definitely wanted to pick up the bones with my hands and keep on eating!
Grigliata Mista Di Pesce: Grilled shrimp, calamari and scallops. $24.95
What a great dish for the seafood lover! All the seafood was fresh and cooked perfectly. A beautiful presentation. Not mentioned on the menu, the dish included a delicious organic arugula salad … a complete meal on a single plate!
Café Epicure offers a full bar service, beer, a very nice wine list and soft drinks to accompany your meal. We found the wait staff to be very professional, friendly, attentive and genuinely interested in how we liked the food. In addition to the food items above, Café Epicure offers an array of fine homemade Italian cookies, pastries, cannoli and gelato.
With all the new options for dining in downtown Sarasota, it might be easy to overlook a longtime original like Café Epicure. However, that would be a mistake. With a relaxed, casual yet upscale ambiance, a wide range of quality food and regular drink specials, Café Epicure is still a place to be seen.
SRQ Reviews, the restaurant guide you need to find the best dining in Sarasota, Florida.
At-a-Glance: Cafe Epicure
Taste: Healthy and delicious!
Service: With a smile
Price: Priced to please
Attire: A little of everything
Type: A-Listers: Out & About; Bars; A-Listers: Deli; A-Listers, Italian: Out & About; Pet friendly
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2013, by jberg
Down on lower Main Street, a block or two before you cross Mound Street/US 41, is a popular cafe, where — if you closed your eyes and listened to the accents of the waiters and staff — you’d swear you were in Italy or France. But you’re not. You’re at Cafe Epicure, an unpretentious bit of coziness on one of the best corners in town.
Cafe Epicure has become a local institution, of sorts. Featuring a large central dining room, ample seating along the sidewalk, a vibrant deli/dessert counter, and a slick, sexy bar area, Cafe Epicure will appeal to you for different reasons. Looking for a ‘be seen’ locale to enjoy your coffee in the morning, a leisurely lunch or a glass of wine at night — try the outside seating area. Too warm or raining? There’s plenty of room inside, with two dining rooms to pick from. Wanting to snuggle up for quiet conversation with someone special? Head to the back dining room and bar.
This blog covers two lunches your SarasotaFoodies enjoyed at Cafe Epicure. The first was enjoyed outside, the second inside the main dining room. I say this only because I don’t want anyone to think I ate all that food myself. . . but I did enjoy it!
Our outside lunch at one of the popular bistro tables found Mart and I enjoying complimentary slices of Epicure’s delicious warm bread, one a sourdough, the other an olive loaf, served with an accompaniment of virgin olive oil and an olive tapenade. Don’t you love it when something so simple is incredibly delicious that it’s irresistible? (And here I am trying to cut down on carbs . . . what was I thinking asking for more!)
Our original thought was to order a sandwich and share it, so we both focused on the appetizer menu, with Mart ordering Cafe Epicure’s Insalata Di Mare, a seafood salad of shrimp. octopus, calamari and mussels. Believe me when I say it was every bit as sumptuous as it looks.
I hadn’t enjoyed a truly delicous carpaccio in quite awhile, and just knew that Cafe Epicure would do it right. So, with that in mind, I ordered the Carpaccio con Rucola e Parmigiano, which is paper-thin raw beef with arugula and shaved Parmesan. Delightful! And being mostly protein, I want to think it made up for the second order of bread I scarfed down when I sat down.
Oddly enough, these two light courses satiated both of Mart and I, meaning we’d have to come for a repeat visit to order one of Cafe Epicure’s pizzas or sandwiches. And that’s exactly what we did. Second visit – same as the first – we gobbled up the bread and even asked for seconds on the olive tapenade. Will I ever learn? (Don’t count on it!)
This visit we shared an order of the Prociutto E Melone. Now I have to ask you . . . What could be more refreshing on a warm spring day than fresh, cool cantaloupe melon and parma prosciutto? That bite of sweet melon taken with a bite of slightly salty prosciutto brings to mind one word . . . “Bellissima!”
A big fan of fennel, which you rarely see on a sandwich menu, Mart was excited to try the grilled sausage, provolone and fennel sandwich on Epicure’s fresh ciabatta roll. Again — the taste was everything he’d hoped for, but this ample sized sandwich (after all the bread and the shared appetizer) was enough that he wrapped up half to enjoy later.
Never one to turn down speck, another sandwich ingredient I don’t see every day, I ordered the Speck, Brie and Arugola Sandwich, also served on the crunchy ciabatta roll. Speck, if you’ve never heard of it, is a distinctively juniper-flavored ham originally from Tyrol, a historical region in Italy. Described as a smoked procuitto, speck can be compared to bacon in someways, though the taste is distinctly Italian. Neither sandwich came with a sauce, what with all that hot melted cheese, certainly wasn’t needed.
Being that both our recent visits were for lunch, we’re going to have to have dinner at Cafe Epicure in the near future. I look forward to relaxing in their lounge/bar area and sampling one of the delicious wines or cocktails on their bar menu. Lunch has been a pleasure. . . I’m confident dinner will be too!
Grazie, Cafe Epicure!
Café Epicure: The European Life
November 11, 2011
Reservations: Not required.
Parking: Parking availability in downtown Sarasota is often criticized, with spots hard to find in the core Main Street area around the restaurant after 10 or 11 a.m. Still, the restaurant benefits from a new parking garage the city recently built down the street.
One-hour lunch test: Sandwiches and salads came is less than 15 minutes. In and out in an hour.
See and be seen: A high see-and-be-seen quotient. Sarasota’s popular art galleries are across the street, so many art shoppers stroll by for lunch. Professionals, including attorneys and money managers, hold lunch networking meetings there. Tourists also dine at the restaurant, mostly for its European look and flair.
Privacy: Tables along the windows are better for intimate conversations. Tables in the middle rows and the circular tables near the bar are louder.
Ambiance: The crowd is an eclectic mix. People who shop for $10,000 paintings sit next to college-aged students from Europe who hit Café Epicure after Mac on Main, an Apple gear store across the street. Bright colors on the walls and big chairs add to the comfort.
Food: There’s a wide selection of salads, entrees and pizzas. Appetizers and salads are in the $7 to $13 range. Choices include prosciutto e melone, or parma prosciutto with melon, for $12.95, and a Caprese salad for $7.95. Entrées range from veal and grouper dishes for $22.95 to at least 15 pasta-focused options. And there are more than 20 pizza choices, with toppings from anchovies to olives.
Ownership: Business partners Daniele Baroni, Giovanni Migliorini and Alessandro Rossi co-own Café Epicure. They have owned the restaurant since 2000. Born in Italy, Baroni co-owns two other restaurants in downtown Sarasota, including Mediterraneo, also on Main Street.
1. Feel like a culinary stroll in an octopus’ garden? At Café Epicure, Chef Stefano Sasso’s Insalata Di Polpo features tender raw octopus, potatoes and green olives. It’s light, satisfying and looks great, too. 1298 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota (941) 366-5648.
Restaurant Reviews : Cafe Epicure Italian Restaurant in Downtown Sarasota, Florida
This is a favorite restaurant destination for several of our family members. Every year they escape the cold weather in upstate New York and spend some time in Sarasota. We visited them this past April to enjoy this section of Florida’s Gulf coast. It was almost mandatory that we visit Cafe Epicure during our stay. That was great with us because we love trying out new eateries especially in good company. We packed into the van and headed out on our way to downtown Sarasota.
Parking was easy to find on the street behind the restaurant. The restaurant itself was packed. Even though we did not have reservations, our party of six was seated promptly. The decor is modern and casual. There are large windows everywhere bringing the outside in and the inside out (so to speak). A large deli case takes up a sizable part of the dining room. It is filled with Italian delicacies. We would have gotten some if it wasn’t for the flight back to California. The waiters were well trained. They were quick, polite and asked the right questions. When our orders arrived, the food completely covered the table. We had several pasta dishes, some house wine, a pizza, few salads, and appetizers, not necessarily in that order. Everything tasted really good. Pasta was cooked right, the ingredients were fresh, flavorful and not overwhelming. Pizza had a thin crispy crust and perfect amount of toppings. Appetizers were served from the deli case and tasted great. It does get loud here and would not be suitable for a quiet dinner. The sound reverberates from the voices of happy customers (I say). It is kid friendly and many families come here in full force to enjoy their meals.
I am sure that we also created some of the noise. Our meal continued for an hour or two. In the end, everyone was happy and pleasantly full. Prices for most entrees are in the mid teens which we found appropriate for the quality of the food. If you are in downtown Sarasota and would like to get some very good Italian food in a casual, busy, colorful and airy environment than this is the place for you. I really liked it and do recommend it indeed.